Cape Henlopen State Park celebrates 50th anniversary

Delaware’s largest state park will celebrate its 50th year of operation with a series of events this weekend.

Before becoming a park in 1964, Cape Henlopen State Park was home to Ft. Miles, an installation designed to protect the entryway to the Delaware River during World War II.

By the 1950’s, the installation was no longer important to the area’s defense and the land was turned over to the state in 1964. The remnants of Ft. Miles, including several observation towers and a number of heavy guns, remain a major attraction at the park. 

Ft. Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

“Cape Henlopen State Park is a crown jewel of our state parks system,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. “We can all take pride in our own world-renowned park.” 

Predating its military history, the land at the park was once used as a quarantine station for immigrants headed to Philadelphia. In addition, the land was once home to the sixth lighthouse constructed in the American colonies. The two lighthouses that now stand on the breakwaters visible from the park serve as a major attraction for visitors.

To celebrate the anniversary, park officials have planned a number of events, including a kayak eco-tour of the Delaware Breakwater and discounts on camping reservations. Special history programs are also planned through the rest of the year. 

It’s a big weekend for the Cape Henlopen area as the nearby Cape May Lewes Ferry is also celebrating its 50th year of operation as well. The ferry will hold a special fireworks presentation from the park’s fishing pier on Sunday, June 29 at 9:15 p.m. 


WHYY has produced a documentary on the history and impact of the Cape May Lewes Ferry. “Billion Mile Journey” can be seen Friday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. on WHYY TV. On Friday, June 27, WHYY-FM’s Newsworks Tonight will broadcast live at 6:00 p.m. from Lewes Canalfront Park in Lewes, DE. NewsWorks Tonight is a half-hour news program that features regional news reports gathered by the staff of WHYY.


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