Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bunker on Cape May Point Beach

Posted by Stu On November - 20 - 2003

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11/03
Updated on 4/05

The lighthouse guide in Cape May told me a brief history about the bunker. It’s from one of the world wars (forget which one). Back then, it was actually under the sand, with 900 feet of beach in front of it. Think about that. That’s not a whole lot of time that’s passed since.
Unfortunately there was no way in, since the only entrance I saw was at least 8 feet off the ground.


The Bunker from the top of the lighthouse…


…and from across a sand dune.


4/27/05

We revisited all the Cape May places to get new photos and info. I was surprised to see the bunker with sand underneath it. A ranger told us they’ve been trying to reclaim much of the lost beach. Much of the beach was off limits at this time.

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2 Responses

  1. Marilyn Konrad Said,

    I remember in the 80’s there were steps to the top and fencing around so you could fish off the top always enjoyed going on top of bunker

    Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 10:07 am

  2. Stacey Gottlieb Said,

    My grandparents owned a summer home right across Lighthouse Avenue from the beach where this bunker is located, and I spent many ssummers the re, with my older sister and cousin, during the 1970’s. I was the snot-nosed little tagalong, but they never left me behind: ) back then there were *no* safety features installed at all. The structure had just been left to rot as the beach eroded out from under it. At high c tide it stood out in the surf on its timber pilings as the waves pounded over massive chunks of fallen concrete, rusty rebar and steel plating underneath.

    That beach and the bunker, along with the large tract of swampy undeveloped land stretching between the village of Cape May Point and the city of Cape May proper, is (or was) owned by the US Navy, and only residents of the nearest neighborhood were issued access passes. There was no municipal oversight of that area, and no lifeguard posted.ll )

    Meanwhile, we three were running wild on that mostly deserted, half-mile stretch of beach. When we got tired of swimming and horsing around in the sand, we would usually wander over to the bunker (this was during the Cold War, so we called it the “bomb shelter”). if the tide was out, we could scramble up to the lowest ledge on the landward side. I remember My ccousin had to give me a booSt. Then in order to get onto the roof, you had to crawl along the top of one of those steeply sloping outer walls that you can see in some of photos. They made very convenient, 12-inch-wide access ramps but you had to not fall off.
    No one was watching any of this. All view of the beach from nearby homes was blocked by the dunes, and in any case these were the good old days of oblivious parenting (“oh, the kids’ll take care of themselves. They were around here this morning so they can’t have gotten far. Say, could you hand me the Sunday Book Review And my gin and tonic?”)
    After we wandered around on the roof for a while, inevitably the older kids would egg each other on and we would all end up shinnying on our butts down a similar wall onto a different ledge on the offshore side of the bunker. From that narrow “ramp,” if you leaned too far to one side, you could fall 15 feet onto the concrete ledge. If you leaned too far to the other side, it would be a much longer drop onto some very nasty-looking construction debris. It was much easier climbing back up later, because then you didn’t have to keep looking down.
    Our reward for surviving was that from the offshore ledge you could actually get inside the bunker through a breach in the giant old steel double doors. I don’t remember ever staying long or going very deep inside. It was completely dark, it was chilly and damp, and it smelled like something rotting. There were random fallen objects everywhere to stumble over. I’m guessing that the local kids (who had been climbing around the place with spray paint and cigarettes since long before our time) would have brought flashlights inside, but that never occurred to us. In any case, it was thrilling and wonderful just to sit up there together in the sun and the breeze with our legs dangling over the side and the waves breaking so far down beneath our feet. And feeling extremely impressed with our own fearlessness

    There were some outlying structures farther out that must since have washed away. A cistern and a gun emplacement, maybe? I have a lovely memory of watching the waves crash into them and the spray rocketing upward one late afternoon when the tide was coming in and our stomachs were growling but we kept hoping to see one more roaring wave shatter over the cistern and shoot up high enough to slap us in the face where we sat.

    One summer (I couldn’t have been older than 9 or 10) we arrived to discover that a 5-foot high chain link fence had been erected on the roof all around the edge, presumably to keep those who were off of the bunker from climbing on and those who were on it from falling off. We didn’t hesitate to scramblet over it, though it could be more than thrilling to accidentally look down while throwing a leg over the bar and feeling your whole weight on that one bare foot now painfully wedged between the links on *wrong* side of the fence.

    The fence really just made stupider, not safer. Because of it, we were finally brave enough to approach the seaward end of the roof and look down over the side where there were no sloped walls or ledges, just a sheer 40 foot drop into the Atlantic. And then of course that got boring so one day we got it into our sun-baked brains that we should go the whole way around the building perimeter while clinging to the *outside* of the chain link fence. The older two must have felt some responsibility for my safety because they thoughtfully put me in the middle position. We were half way around, on the ocean side, shuffling along sideways and tightly grasping the fence, when my foot slipped and for an instant I was hanging just by my hands over that dropoff. I got my feet right back under me, of course, and I don’t remember feeling scared at all– but in that moment my sister and my cousin must have seen the face of a wrathful god staending before the fiery gates of hell, because for the rest of the summer they insisted we ride our bikes into town every day and hang out on the boardwalk.

    Posted on September 2nd, 2016 at 10:10 pm

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