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Shawn Michaels


I wanted to write an article which celebrated Ocean County history and maybe gave readers a better understanding of events that changed life here in Ocean County. From the very beginning in 1850 until modern times. Of course these are my choices and maybe you will agree or maybe you can add some items you think are extremely important in Ocean County history.

FIRST: the event that began it all. Ocean County was founded February, 15 1850. Toms River was selected as the County Seat after a close vote. Toms River defeated Lakehurst by one vote. Little Egg Harbor was added from Burlington County in 1891. The famous courthouse was then constructed in downtown Toms River.

SECOND: possibly the most impactful moment in Ocean County history was the construction of the Garden State Parkway through Ocean County. Linking towns with the rest of the State and helping to bring tourism billions into the economy. The Garden State Parkway began construction to the north in 1947 with completion in 1957. The Parkway was completed through Southern Ocean County in 1954. Since then millions have traveled to Ocean County via the GSP.

THIRD: linking our barrier islands to the mainland and opening up our rich resort areas. This section comes with several historic moments but I think they all fall under the topic of "bridges". October 23, 1914 the Toms River Bridge was constructed, linking Toms River to Seaside Heights. The bridge was later replaced with the Thomas A Mathis Bridge in 1950. The Tunney Bridge was added in 1972. Another major bridge was the Manahawkin Bay Bridge, which links Manahawkin with Long Beach Island. The original bridge, which cars could travel on, was built in 1914. An earlier bridge for trains was built in 1886. The "Causeway" or "Henderson Memorial Bridge" was rebuilt in 1957 and most recently began renovations in 2016. In addition the Route 35 bridge also plays an important role in Ocean County history linking Brick & Point Pleasant.

Fourth: Ocean County enters the "nuclear age" with the opening of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Forked River on December 1, 1969. The facility was closed in September 2018.....after serving to area for nearly 50 years.

Fifth: the County finally saw a "center" for shopping with the opening of the Ocean County Mall in Toms River in July of 1976. This became a centralized shopping and events center right up until today.

For the record, 92.7 WOBM became the first commercial radio station in Ocean County on March 1, 1968.

So what do YOU think of my top 5 ? Agree or would YOU add any additional events? Obviously Hurricane Sandy was a huge event in Ocean County history, but I kept negative moments off this list.

What's next to come to us here in Ocean County? Only time will tell :)

Shawn Michaels
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