Delaware’s beaches attract vacationers, many from the Washington, D.C. area because it’s only 120 miles away our nation’s capitol. For those who vacation near Lewes, Delaware, you will be able to explore an area that was patrolled by the Army during World War II as part of the Coastal Defense System, and now within Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park.
Projecting out of the ground like monoliths, visitors to Cape Henlopen State Park can see concrete, cylinder-shaped observation towers used during World War II. Nearby barracks housed the soldiers whose duty it was to keep watch from the towers for German U-boats headed toward the entrance of Delaware Bay. During World War II about one-third of U.S. ships were constructed in Philadelphia, reached from Delaware Bay, making it a target to the German forces.
One of the observation towers has been restored at Cape Henlopen in the area that used to be Fort Miles, and the tower is open to the public to tour. Visitors can climb to the top of the almost 100 foot tall tower where they can enjoy a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, and long stretches of coastal beach.
In addition to the towers, visitors can see the large guns positioned to secure the area as well as bunkers among the dunes and beach vegetation. Visitors can meander the three mile paved pathway encircling the park, reading the pathway plaques, and gaining a better understanding of Delaware’s participation in World War II.
At over 5,000 acres, Cape Henlopen brings more than history to vacationers. Hiking and biking paths are open all year-round, including six miles of beach. You can also partake in fishing, tennis, basketball, softball, picnic in a pavilion, ocean swimming on guarded beaches, kayaking, and horse trails. There are also camping accommodations including a bathhouse for the camping enthusiast bringing their tent, trailer, or recreational vehicle. 139 sites have water hookup for under $30; other camping sites rates range from $22-$28.
One mile east of the Cape May Ferry, Cape Henlopen State Park is located at 42 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958. From route 1, take route 9 and watch for the signs directing you to Cape Henlopen. The park is open daily from 8a.m. to sunset. A daily pass booklet can be purchased for $20, allowing 6 passes for Delaware residents and 3 passes for out-of-state vehicles.
If you are visiting the Cape Henlopen State Park in summer, plan for temperatures in the upper seventies to low eighties at the beach. Remember to bring sun screen and comfortable shoes.
Resource: Cape Henlopen State Park