Click video to view promotional film produced by the Brigantine Chamber of Commerce in 1990. It’s a great summary that highlights the history of our spectacular island.
The name “Brigantine” came from a type of 1600s ship; perhaps one of the first of over three hundred vessels wrecked on the notorious offshore shoals – during a two hundred year period.
Whalers used Brigantine Beach to launch attacks on migrating whales from New England. (Today our Marine Mammal Stranding Center assists sick and injured Whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles. The Brigantine Wildlife Refuge on our north end is a state protected haven for birds, rabbits, and foxes.)
Several attempts were made during the late 1800s to develop Brigantine on a significant scale. In connection with one of these attempts, made by the Brigantine Improvement Company, the island’s name was briefly changed to “North Atlantic City.”
During this period, a railroad was built to connect Philadelphia to Brigantine; 16 trolleys ran the length of the island; and steamboats carried people to and from Atlantic City during the “Gay Nineties.” Hotels sprang up and some served as getaways for important people including U.S. President Grover Cleveland. Hard times and harsh storms ended this boom in the early 1900s. In 1917 the City had only 54 full-time residents and an operating budget of $5,400.
Another visitor of Brigantine’s pirate days was the legendary Captain Teech, better known as Blackbeard. When things became too dangerous in the Caribbean, he sailed up the coast to the Little Egg Harbor, making one of the small islands to the back of Brigantine his headquarters. It was while there that the British sought his capture, but he escaped by sinking himself in the waters of the meadows, breathing through a thin reed until the searchers had passed. He immediately departed the coast and was finally on the Spanish Main.
Information courtesy of “The Annals of Brigantine” by Paul C. Burgess.
Firmly entrenched in Jersey Shore lore, one of the most legendary haunted “houses” to ever frighten the teaming masses was Brigantine Castle. The old Sea Horse Pier at 14th Street North was converted into a Haunted Castle in 1975. Ghosts, Goblins, Vampires and other monsters made their home at Brigantine Castle for several memorable years. The Castle had been closed for about three years before it burned down in 1987. In 1989 the pilings of the pier were removed.