Highlands in Monmouth County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Twin Lights Mystery Cannon
The cannon is a twelve-pounder ship’s cannon of the third quarter, 17th century and of Dutch or Danish manufacture. A comparable specimen, although an eight-pounder, is in the Jøjhusmuseet Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark and was recovered from a 1679 Danish shipwreck.
A typical ship’s cannon of the era was a flat trajectory weapon with a point blank range of 300 yards, and accurate, effective range of one-half mile. Maximum range was one mile. The muzzle loading cannon used black powder, a mixture of approximately 75 parts potassium nitrate, 15 parts charcoal and 10 parts sulphur by weight. Projectiles fired included shot, hot shot, bombs, chain and bar shot.
The barrel is deeply incised with the markings “1756 xx J * LOPEZ.” The date and name led to speculation the gun was a “pirate’s” cannon. Subsequent research disproved such fanciful visions of buccaneers raiding in Sandy Hook Bay.
Joseph Lopez was keeper of Twin Lights Lighthouse when the cannon was dug up. Obviously, he inscribed his name on the
During the Revolution War, Sandy Hook was occupied by British and Loyalist troops. Wartime reports mentioned the lighthouse at Highlands for in 1776 it was noted that two Loyalists “found means to pass the Guard at the Highlands near the lighthouse.” Was the Twin Lights mystery cannon part of the defenses at Highlands?
Or was it a signal cannon fired at regular intervals in foggy weather to warn ships that they were approaching the shore? In 1909, author Thomas Leonard was told the “old field piece was cast in Spain, and used by the colonists as a signal gun.”
Pirate gun. Signal cannon. Defense weapon. It’s purpose at Twin Lights is still unknown.
Location. 40° 23.779′ N, 73° 59.134′ W. Marker is in Highlands, New Jersey, in Monmouth County. Marker can be reached from Lighthouse Road. Touch for map. Marker is located at
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Navesink Highlands Light Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Navesink Light Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Powerhouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Telegraph and Radar at Twin Lights (within shouting distance of this marker); Marconi at Twin Lights (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old North Tower (within shouting distance of this marker); Spermaceti Cove Lifeboat Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Highlands Doughboy World War I Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Highlands.
Also see . . . Twin Lights of Navesink website. (Submitted on September 23, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Categories. • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 23, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,060 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 23, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.