Old Time Travel Information and the Jersey Shore

Tourism Travel Books

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there were many touring books produced that were not associated with the railroads. These books focused on particular larger areas (New Jersey or the New England coast, for example). They discussed localized travel destinations by describing what was found there, what type of travel arrangements could be made to get there (the train to station x, then a local horse and carriage or boat, for example) and provided details about local hotels or accommodations. In smaller settlements the places to stay often included homes that would take in travelers, providing meals and a bed.

Here is an excerpt from a book called "Life at the Sea Shore." It was printed around 1880. This is a passage that discusses some Barnegat Peninsula areas (complete with strange spelling and punctuation):

St. Elmo

This place is seven miles below the head of Barnegat Bay, on Squan Beach. A party of Princeton gentlemen were its originators. It has been laid off in broad streets, and lots, 50 feet by 100 feet, running parallel with the sea and bay, and at right angles. The company own also an adjacent tract, on which are lots of larger size. The beach here is good, the sand firm, and the surf bathing fine. Excellent water abounds, and the place is very healthy. The adjacent waters of the bay, which is three miles wide here afford rarest opportunity for boating, sailing, fishing, still water bathing, gathering ice for summer use, etc.; and so is an invaluable adjunct of a sea side resort. The company's lands adjoin Chadwick's; a famous, and long established, hostelry, especially for sportsmen ; game, in its season, being very abundant. St. Elmo is reached by boat from Tom's River, or the head of the bay; and from stage, from Manasquan and Sea Girt, either to boat at the head of the bay, or direct down the beach. A railroad is to be built connecting with both New York and Philadelphia.

Lavalette City

This place is immediately south of St. Elmo. Its characteristics are similar. The company owns more land than does the St. Elmo. They have sold a great number of lots. A large fine hotel, fronting the sea, has been built upon the property. Cottages are being erected.

Sea Side Park

This place is about one mile below Lavalette. It was the pioneer of sea side resorts, on this beach. Two large hotels, Sea Side Park and Franklin, have been erected ; which, ever since they have been finished, have been well filled with summer visitors. It lies about opposite the mouth of Tom's River, and is a pleasant sail from Tom’s River Village, the county seat of Ocean, or from Island Heights, a new and thriving summer resort, on the river two miles below. The distance from Tom's River is about six miles. Connection is made at this village with Philadelphia and New York, by means of the New Jersey Southern, and Central, and Pennsylvania railroads. A steamer runs from the depot to the beach in summer time.

The above places, St. Elmo, Lavalette and Sea Side Park with some tracts between, owned by individuals ; but who are in accord with the companies, contain some 1,500 acres and a sea front of some five miles. Some day, they will form one large and popular, perhaps the most popular, of all cities by the sea. Barnegat Bay, on the inside, raises these places above all others, for the purposes of a sea side resort. The bay is from two to five miles wide. Its length is almost thirty. It is the largest body of water, of its kind, in New Jersey. Fish, oysters, clams, and game abound in it. The railroad being built will fully develop these places. Still, to those who have leisure far the purpose, a steamboat or yacht ride, across, or down, or up, the bay, as the case may be, is not to be deprecated—by many it may be preferred. It is, indeed, one of the pleasant experiences of a trip to the shore that a sail is necessary or possible.