NORTH WILDWOOD — In 1874 — the year the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse was built — this shore town was an uninhabited wilderness except for the fishermen who roamed the coastal waters in search of a catch.
“If you went back to when the lighthouse was built, it was like an interstate highway down there” in the ocean, said Steve Murray, chairman of lighthouse board of trustees. “They had one of the biggest fishing fleets on the East Coast.”
Most of that history is gone or forgotten, but the lighthouse’s Maritime Festival on Saturday and Sunday let visitors step back in time.
The event, in its eighth year, featured authors, historians and artists along with vendors and food stands.
“The purpose is to bring South Jersey maritime history to people who aren’t very aware of South Jersey maritime history,” said Les Kammerman, a trustee and one of the festival’s organizers.
John Knyff found a piece of maritime history about eight years ago.
Knyff, of Bloody Historical, a Connecticut-based traveling historic education group, pulled in a 3-pound cannon ball while seining Barnegat Bay with a group of children.
At the festival, Bloody Historical had a couple of pirate-themed tables near the lighthouse featuring artifacts including the cannon ball, and gave sewing and cooking demonstrations.
Knyff said, just in case anyone wondered, real pirates never said “argh.” That was a misinterpretation of the accent of Scottish pirates.
“And all of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies are wrong,” he added.
Nearby, Daniel Lapidow, of Trenton, was hammering a piece of mild steel. The 25-year-old blacksmith, who’s also known as the Hebrew Hammer, was forming a spatula.
Lapidow, who said he’s one of seven blacksmiths in the state, became interested in the craft after watching a smith work when he was 7 years old.
“I got invested in this because I saw someone doing it, so I have to keep that going,” he said.