When you step onto the remains of Fort Hancock, you may feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from a horror movie. The crumbling remains of historic structures dot the New Jersey coast, and many have spooky tales that can send chills down your spine.
If you choose to visit Fort Hancock, don’t be surprised if you experience some paranormal activity. Many have experienced some supernatural events beyond explanation. Are you brave enough to visit Fort Hancock? Let’s learn more.
What Is Fort Hancock?
Fort Hancock is a former military fort that served as the primary defense along the Atlantic coast and the entrance to New York Harbor. It remained operational in varying capacities from 1896 until the military decommissioned it in 1974.
While many buildings and structures lie in shambles, the National Park Service now manages the fort and hopes to salvage and preserve it as much as possible.
Where Is Fort Hancock in NJ?
Fort Hancock is in Sandy Hook, N.J., which sits along the Atlantic coast. It separates the Atlantic Ocean from Sandy Hook Bay. It’s approximately seven miles from Gravesend Bay which borders Brooklyn, N.Y.
What Is Fort Hancock Famous For?
Fort Hancock played a historically significant role in protecting the country for around 100 years. In addition, the fort houses Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It has become a popular historical tourist spot for guests to explore and learn about its unique history.
The fort was bustling with life in its prime. It had a YMCA, theater, bakery, chapel, and tailor shops for those residing there. While few structures remain, the National Park Service has made an effort to revitalize them and bring back some of their beauty and charm.
Can You Visit Fort Hancock?
The National Park Service allows visitors to explore Fort Hancock. However, the activities change throughout the year, so you must call the visitor’s center or check their website for the most up-to-date information regarding the activities at the fort.
If you visit, first stop at the visitor’s center. They’ll provide you with maps and brochures to help you see and learn more about the fort and its history. It also has restrooms and a gift shop.
Traveler’s Tip: Are you brave enough to Walk the Shark Bridge in NJ?
Year-Round Attractions at Fort Hancock
There’s so much to see and do at Fort Hancock. You can easily fill your schedule by exploring the fort and learning how important it was to keep New York Harbor safe. Don’t miss these things when visiting.
See the Lighthouse
The lighthouse at Fort Hancock is the oldest working lighthouse in the country. And if you’re over 48-inches tall, you can climb inside it. You can also join tours on a first-come, first-served basis that start at noon at the Keeper’s Quarters.
For those who don’t meet the height requirement or don’t want to climb the stairs, you can watch a video tour of the lighthouse shown in the small barn behind the Keeper’s Quarters.
Check Out the History House
Stepping into the History House can transport you back into the 1940s during Fort Hancock’s prime. You can step inside the lieutenant’s quarters on Officer’s Row and see what life would have looked like for the individuals who called this place home.
The house is typically open from May through September between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and typically on the weekends from Oct. 1 through April 31.
As you’ll see, the National Park Service has done a fantastic job of recreating the era to help provide you with an authentic experience. Rangers keep an eye on things and answer guests’ questions.
Explore the Battery Gunnison
This massive gun had one mission: to protect the harbor. It could take out small vessels that were trying to infiltrate the bay. Additionally, the Army Ground Forces Association (AFGA) conducts historically accurate demonstrations at the Battery Gunnison.
On days with the AGFA present, guests can learn a wealth of information from the group. They typically participate in the park from April through October, but you’ll want to check with the visitor center to confirm availability.
Visit the Beach
The fort is home to 7 miles of beach access, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing, and many other activities.
You can cool off during the summer and get treated to an incredible view of the New York City skyline. Bring your beach chair and sand toys and plop yourself in the sand for an hour or two.
Enjoy Hiking and Birding
The park is home to a 7-mile paved multi-use path. It starts at Lot B and loops through to Fort Hancock. Runners, hikers, bicyclists, and in-line skaters frequent the trail. So mind others and share the road.
If looking for a way to get off the paved path, you can also take the Old Dune Trail, which begins at Spermaceti Cove Life Saving Station and ends just north of Beach E.
Whichever path you choose, look out for birds. More than 325 species of birds call this area home throughout the year.
Traveler’s Tip: While in New Jersey take some time to Hike the Actual Stairway to Heaven.
What Makes Fort Hancock Spooky
Fort Hancock has a spooky reputation because it is old and no longer used. It’s one of those places once full of a flurry of activity, but that’s no longer the case.
These types of areas typically tend to give people the heebie-jeebies, and rightfully so. You may hear stories of strange noises and claims that the spirits of the former residents who died at the fort still reside there.
Is Fort Hancock Worth Touring?
Fort Hancock is one of those places full of history and historical significance, but far too many people never knew it existed.
Fort Hancock is a great place to visit if you want a way to learn about and get hands-on experience with an incredible piece of American history.
Even if you’re not crazy about history, you can always take a dip or relax on the beach while enjoying a great view of the New York City skyline.
Is a visit to Fort Hancock in your future?
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