Sea Bright was formed by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shrewsbury River on the other, Sea Bright, New Jersey, is the southern half of a barrier beach which is the Sandy Hook Peninsula. Only an hour and ten minutes from New York City, this sandy stretch of the Jersey Coast has a heritage centuries old.
While Sea Bright's formal history starts in 1869, there was, in the early 1840's, a small cluster of wooden shacks nestled among the tall grass-topped sand dunes of the barrier beach. This was the fishing village of Nauvoo. Long an enigma to local historians and often misinterpreted as an Indian word, the origin of "Nauvoo" is Sephardic Hebrew. It is clearly the same word that Mormon leader Joseph Smith gave to the Illinois town he founded in 1839. Meaning literally "beautiful of pleasant place," Nauvoo (N.J.) might well have been named by Smith as he visited Monmouth County in 1839. In an event, moved by Mormon influence, Nauvoo was the name chosen by local fisherman for their tiny settlement on the Jersey Coast.
One of the earliest accounts of the barrier beach, published a dozen years before Sea Bright's existence, describes a steamboat journey from New York to the Ocean House, a low rambling wooden structure situated on the beach opposite the mouth of the Navesink River. Built in 1842, this first hotel on the sandy strip offered "excellent fishing, fine sea bathing and capital accomodations" for three hundred patrons. At the Ocean House one "found a number of beach carriages", as they are called, awaiting the arrival of the boat from New York to take passengers to Long Branch.