Artillery Park opens at Delaware beach

American military history is on display at the new World War II Artillery Park at Cape Henlopen’s Fort Miles Museum.

A massive, 16-inch gun that once was mounted on the USS Missouri is the centerpiece of the newest addition to the Fort Miles Museum. Friday morning, state leaders celebrated the grand opening of the facility situated inside Cape Henlopen State Park near the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

“Veterans, families, students, visitors and history buffs can relive an important part of Delaware history now surrounded by the buildings and artifacts that will help make the experience come alive,” said DNREC Secretary David Small.

The 16-inch gun weighs more than 116 tons and is 66 feet long. The gun is among the biggest pieces of artillery ever made for the US Navy. “The artillery park is the largest exhibit of its kind in the country,” said Fort Miles Museum Historical Association president Gary Wray. “The Fort Miles Museum, when completed, will be the best World War II museum inside a World War II facility in the U.S.”

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said the artillery park preserves an important part of Delaware’s history and should draw even more visitors to an already popular state park. “The historic nature and new amenities here will attract families and visitors to the beautiful shores of Cape Henlopen State Park and boost the local economy,” Markell said.

The Fort Miles Historical Association plans to launch a fundraising campaign this fall to raise $2.1 million to help complete indoor exhibits and outdoor programming venues for the artillery park. Planned exhibits include a showcase of ordinary life in Delaware during WWII and the wartime role citizens played in defending Delaware including through the Civil Air Patrol and the Delaware River and Bay Pilots Association.

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