Out and About in Delaware's State Parks
|by Stephen Schilly|
|Fort Miles Special Event: "A Day in the Life of the 261st Coast Artillery"
Come on out to Cape Henlopen State Park on July 30, 2005 to see history "brought to life" at Fort Miles. On that day, living history reenactors will conduct training exercises, hold drills, explain their uniforms and equipment and give exciting demonstrations of the daily jobs conducted at the fort during World War II. Fort Miles was an integral part of the coastal defense of Delaware and the surrounding region in the Second World War. The men stationed there were responsible for monitoring shipping traffic moving north toward the mouth of the Delaware River and the giant business centers located further up the river.
In order to carry out their jobs, these soldiers required very specific training. The training and drills will be portrayed throughout the day at the fort. You will see the men learning hand signals, how to patrol, studying the manual of arms, and the proper way to advance and withdraw while under fire. Reenactors will explain the field gear, firearms and tents and the regulations governing them. You will also find out how the GIs violated those regulations. You will witness a drill and ceremony, and learn the history of the Coastal Artillery.
Each soldier had a job to do at the fort. These jobs were essential to its successful operation. Demonstrations of those jobs will be held at various times during the day. The signal corps will reenact pole climbing, wire splicing, switchboard operations, and laying and running wire. The medics will demonstrate first aid in the field, "buddy care," and what to do with casualties. The cooks will show off their stoves, immersion heaters and teach visitors about sanitation in the field. Visitors are advised to "stay in line" because MPs and security personnel will be demonstrating post defense, subduing and cuffing, come-alongs, and may even stop a vehicle or two!
At the end of a long, hard day, the soldiers need some time to relax and socialize. The day will end with a U.S.O. dance from 7 until 9 p.m. featuring the Swing City Band playing the big band sounds. Tickets for the dance are $12 per person and $20 per couple with limited availability, so reserve them soon. Everyone who attends the dance is encouraged to come dressed in the style of the period.
History buffs, veterans, families and anyone who wants to have a great time should be sure to come to Fort Miles and take a trip back in time to enjoy the life and stories of the "greatest generation."
For Rent...Gordons Pond Pavilion!
Visitors to Gordons Pond are aware that the long-promised picnic pavilion is now completed! This new facility gives beachgoers a wonderful place to get out of the sun and eat their meals in shaded comfort. It includes picnic tables, large grill, fire ring and other amenities for the use and enjoyment of all park visitors. The good news is this special facility is now available for rent by the public for parties and outdoor functions. Rental fees are $90.00 for weekdays and $110.00 for weekends and holidays. The daily rental covers the period the area is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Interested parties should contact the park office at (302) 645-8983 for further information on specific fees and policies. When not in use by rental groups, the pavilion will be available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Park Explorations: Holts Landing
In the on-going series exploring Delaware State Parks, our next stop is Holts Landing State Park. Located on the Indian River Bay not far from Millville, this quiet park is an undiscovered gem in our system. At 203 acres in size, this beautiful park features a number of unique landscapes from bay-shore beach and marshes to grassy fields and hardwood forests. These shores were once home to native Americans who harvested seafood and hunted surrounding marshes and forests.
More recently, the area was used by settlers for agricultural purposes. The Holt family used the site for farming, as well as maintaining a bay-shore boat landing until 1957. In 1965, the property was acquired by the Division and became known as Holts Landing State Park.
Unlike much of the Delaware coast, Holts Landing is a peaceful oasis amid the congestion and confusion of the more active resort areas. It is a perfect to escape for a quiet, more leisurely experience. The park features a picnic pavilion, bathroom facilities, and boat ramp. A brand new crabbing pier is popular with many visitors intent on sampling the bounty of our inland bays. The Sea Hawk Nature Trail is a great place to take a stroll through the various habitats featured on the site. Careful hikers may see deer, raccoons, possum or foxes. Bird watchers frequently spot many large specimens including hawks, herons and osprey, in addition to the numerous species of songbirds found in the area. A well-kept secret, Holts Landing State Park is more than worth a visit. You'll be glad you took the time to seek out this special place! For information on Holts Landing, its programs and fees, call the office at Delaware Seashore at (302) 227-2800.
Nature's Best Bets
If you are looking for fun activities, here are a number of "best bets" at the Seaside Nature Center in Cape Henlopen State Park:
African Americans in WWII Sunday July 16, 11:00 a.m.-Noon Explore the role of the African American soldier during WWII and learn about their often overlooked but very important part in the war. Meet at the Fort Miles Orientation Building.
Fort Miles Battery Tours Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun, 1-2:30 p.m. Take part in an exciting and informational tour of one of the gun batteries constructed in the area known as Fort Miles. Learn about current plans to restore and expand on this once important defense area during WWII. Meet at the Fort Miles Orientation Building. Cost is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child. Limited to first 35 participants.
Fort Miles "Lantern" Battery Tours Wed. and Sun., 7-8:30 p.m. Tour the Fort Miles Gun Battery by lantern light. Explore the nooks and crannies of the dark bunker and hear about its exciting and fascinating role during WWII. Meet at the Fort Miles Orientation Building. Cost is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child. Limited to 20 participants.
For more information on these and other park programs, contact the Seaside Nature Center at 302-645-6852 or check out our website at www.destateparks.com.
Stephen Schilly is Park Operations Administrator for the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation. He may be reached at email@example.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 9 July 15, 2005