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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cape May Point in Cape May County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Oil House

 
 
Oil House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 27, 2009
1. Oil House Marker
Inscription. This structure was built in 1893 to house the kerosene used to power the light. Until 1893, the Lighthouse’s oil was stored in the vestibule house at the entrance to the tower. Moving it to a separate building reduced the risk of fire in the tower. The Oil House’s roof is designed to draw oil fumes out through a vent in the peak.

Lighthouses were generally powered by Sperm Whale oil until its price rose dramatically in the 1850s. For about twenty years, lard was used as an alternative. In the mid-1870s, kerosene, which was less expensive than lard, became readily available, and was adopted by the federal Lighthouse Board as the official power source for its lighthouses.

Until that time, the Cape May Lighthouse’s oil was stored in the side rooms of the tower vestibule, an arrangement common to many lighthouses. Kerosene was much more volatile than whale oil or lard, and the Lighthouse Board, concerned for the safety of its keepers, made a recommendation to Congress in 1885 that a separate oil storage building be erected for each lighthouse. Storing the oil outside of the lighthouse reduced the risk in the tower.

The oil house was engineered to meet the special needs of kerosene storage. The unusual, pagoda shaped roof is capped with a vent so that the kerosene fumes would be drawn out of the building, preventing possible
Oil House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
2. Oil House Marker
explosion. Many oil houses were designed vents in the lower part of the walls as well. Originally, the oil house probably had interior shelves that held 5 gallon cans of kerosene. Later, a large tank was installed to receive oil delivered by tank truck. The tank was removed after the lighthouse was electrified in 1933, and the building was used for storage until being converted to an orientation exhibit and museum shop in 1990.
 
Location. 38° 55.991′ N, 74° 57.619′ W. Marker is in Cape May Point, New Jersey, in Cape May County. Marker is on Lighthouse Avenue, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is located in Cape May Point State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Cape May Point NJ 08212, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cape May Lighthouse (a few steps from this marker); All Shapes, Sizes and Materials (a few steps from this marker); Fragile Flyers (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Swarms of Dragonflies (about 400 feet away); Flipper and Friends (about 600 feet away); Shorebirds Galore (about 700 feet away); Ridges, Rivers and Coastlines (about 700 feet away); What is it? (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Cape May Point.
 
Also see . . .  Cape May Lighthouse.
Oil House image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
3. Oil House
The Oil House serves as the Lighthouse's Museum Shop and Orientation Center.
Lighthouse Friends website. (Submitted on August 28, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
 
Marker at Cape May Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 27, 2009
4. Marker at Cape May Lighthouse
The marker can be seen through the opening in the gate. The oil house is on the right.
Oil House at the Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 27, 2009
5. Oil House at the Lighthouse
The oil house is the structure to the right in the photo.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 565 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4, 5. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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