Lower Township near Cape May in Cape May County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Fire Control Tower No. 23
This tower was built to house a sophisticated system for aiming the guns of Fort Miles. From Fire Control Towers along the coast, soldiers would determine the exact location of an enemy ship using the geometric principle of triangulation. Each of these towers had at least two azimuths, which were binocular-like instruments that gave the precise angle between the ship and a base line. When the target was spotted, a bell would ring at regular intervals, enabling the reader and plotter working the instrument to predict the location of the ship a few seconds in advance. This coordinate was used to aim the guns at the battery on the beach. For larger guns, it could take as long as fifty-three seconds for a shell to travel twenty-six miles to its target.
This tower was one of 15 fire control towers that were built for Fort Miles, 11 on the Delaware side and 4 here in New Jersey. It is the only New Jersey tower that has survived intact. The towers in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest have been demolished, while the one in Cape May City has been engulfed by the Grand Hotel (where you can still see its top sticking above the roofline).
Topics. War, World II.
Location. 38° 56.615′ N, 74° 58.012′ W. Marker is near Cape May, New Jersey, in Cape May County. It is in Lower Township. Marker is on Sunset Blvd. (County Route 606), on the left when traveling west. Marker is located near the World War II Lookout Tower. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cape May NJ 08204, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. History of Coastal Defenses (here, next to this marker); The Top of the Fire Tower (here, next to this marker); Construction of Fire Control Tower No. 23 (here, next to this marker); The abrupt end of Fort Miles (a few steps from this marker); The Construction of Fort Miles (a few steps from this marker); Landscape (a few steps from this marker); Cape May during World War II (a few steps from this marker); All Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cape May.
More about this marker. The background of the marker contains a silhouette of the area showing Fire Control Tower No. 23. The marker also features a painting by Howard S. Schroeder showing an azimuth being used here at Fort Miles, and a map showing the distribution of Fort Miles’ Fire Control Towers, from South of Bethany Beach in Delaware to North Wildwood, NJ.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2023. It was originally submitted on August 20, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 789 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 20, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.