The bounty of oysters and fish from New Jersey's ocean, bays, and rivers supported a brisk maritime industry for centuries. In the 1800s shipwrights used local timber to build a variety of working and sailing vessels.
Lighthouses had operated along the coast since the late 1700s, but more maritime traffic meant more shipwrecks. Mariners needed better navigational aids. The number of lighthouses increased, and by the 1890s lifesaving stations were located every 3 1/2 miles along the coast.
Defending New Jersey's coasts and harbors from military attack over the years resulted in an innovative array of defense systems, including disappearing guns. Their stories live on at Fort Mott and at Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook.