DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation invites visitors to ‘Delaware Goes to War’ event at Fort Miles April 27

LEWES – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, Cape Henlopen State Park, and the Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area, are hosting the annual “Delaware Goes to War” event at Fort Miles beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday April 27. The public is invited to explore Fort Miles to see what it was like to live in the 1940s, during the war, and to experience a part of the U.S. military coast defense that the fort provided.

Visitors can learn about what soldiers underwent in Delaware during this global conflict through exhibits, artifacts, and special presentations for the “Delaware Goes to War’ event. There will be live 1940s-era music by the WW Tunes, plotting room demonstrations, vintage military vehicles, a U-858 surrender reenactment, and more.

Between 5 – 6:15 p.m., the Rehoboth Concert Band will hold a free concert for visitors with paid park entrance fee. Bring a beach chair to listen to 1940s-era music, while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Admission to the Fort Miles Museum is $5 per person. For more information, contact the Fort Miles Orientation Building at 302-644-5007. For a detailed event schedule, please follow Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area on Facebook.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No.100

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation and Fort Miles Historical Association announce construction of new amenities at fort to begin Sept. 4

The logo for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ControlLEWES – DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA), will begin construction on a new outdoor event and programming venue at the Fort Miles Museum and historical area beginning Sept. 4.
The overlook at the top of the park’s bike trail will be closed during the two-month construction period. However, the main bike trail, the cantonment area, Tower 3, and the artillery park will remain open. The timing of the construction was determined by the Division of Parks & Recreation to have the least impact on visitors’ experiences, events and programming.

The construction is the result of fundraising by FMHA, which includes foundation grants totaling more than $600,000 from the Longwood Foundation and the Crystal Trust. The venue work will be followed by a new entrance and parking lot for the Fort Miles Museum, along with accessibility upgrades. That work will begin in the fall.

The work is a continuation of a series of projects spearheaded by FMHA, totaling more than $1 million in public and private investment over the last eight years, to enhance the experience of visitors to historic Fort Miles.

For more information, contact the Division of Parks & Recreation’s Operations Section at 302-739-9200.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 238

DNREC’S Division of Parks & Recreation to host open house on Fort Miles Master Plan

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, in partnership with the Fort Miles Historical Association, will host an open house for the public review and comment on proposed capital improvements to the Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area in Cape Henlopen State Park. The open house will feature informative exhibit boards on the proposed updated master plan for Cape Henlopen’s Fort Miles facilities and surrounding areas, and opportunities for the public to get information from DNREC staff and provide written feedback.

The open house will be held 5 -7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, at the Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes, DE, 19958.

Proposed capital improvements include upgraded and expanded parking areas for the museum complex, as well as an outdoor venue area at the north end of Battery 519.

Funding for the project comes entirely from foundation grants and private contributions raised by the Fort Miles Historical Association.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Fort Miles Artillery Park to add 90 mm anti-aircraft gun to collection

DOVER – A World War II model M2 90 mm anti-aircraft gun is scheduled to be delivered to the Fort Miles Artillery Park in Cape Henlopen State Park on Thursday, March 30, through a partnership between DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation and the Fort Miles Historical Association.

The gun came from the collection at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, Md., which determined the Fort Miles Artillery Park was the best-suited location for permanent placement because of its reputation for interpretation.

“The Fort Miles Historical Association is dedicated to bringing in important World War II artifacts to the artillery park which benefits Delawareans and visitors alike,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We salute the association’s commitment to remembering ‘The Greatest Generation’ that served at the Fort, who kept our country safe during WWII. This latest acquisition also contributes to Delaware’s tourism industry and helps boost our economy by adding to the artillery park’s historic appeal.”

This type of 32,000-pound anti-aircraft gun was used on ships in both the European and Pacific theaters during WWII. It could fire either high explosive or armor-piercing shells weighting 24 pounds at a rate of about 25 rounds per minute. These projectiles would leave the muzzle at a velocity of 2,700 feet per second and were capable of hitting land or water-based targets up to 11 miles away, or aircraft flying up to 34,000 feet in the air.

Unlike the other guns in the collection on display in the park, the M2 is the only type that was actually used at Fort Miles. “This was a model that was actually used at Fort Miles towards the end of the war,” said Jim Hall, chief of cultural resources for the Division of Parks & Recreation. “We know they were being used here for top-secret research starting in early 1944 that involved the ‘Proximity Fuze’ – the development of which none other than Gen. George S. Patton believed was second only in importance to the atomic bomb in bringing victory to the Allied Forces.”

Hall said a radio transmitter inside the “fuze” of an artillery shell sent out and received radio signals, constantly calculating distance – proximity – so that the shell would detonate when it was near a plane or tank instead of making direct contact with the target. Fort Miles served as the proving ground for this highly-classified technology prior to its being deployed during WWII.

Prior to installation in the Artillery Park, onsite restoration of the gun by Fort Miles volunteers should be completed this fall.

Vol. 47, No. 70


‘Mighty Mo’s’ big gun moved to permanent resting place at historic Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park

16-inch gun which fired 2,700-pound shells was mounted on USS Missouri when Japan surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945 to end the Second World War

Mighty Mo's big gun moved to permanent resting placeLEWES – After wartime service in the Pacific aboard the storied “Mighty Mo” – the battleship USS Missouri – one of the ship’s nine original 16-inch guns that shook the enemy fleet with 2,700-pound shells was moved today to a permanent display within historic Fort Miles at Cape Henlopen State Park. Of yet another historic note, the big gun was mounted on the Missouri and overlooking her veranda deck when the Japanese surrender was accepted there Sept. 2, 1945, ending World War II.”Mighty Mo”‘s big gun moved to permanent resting place at Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park

“The USS Missouri’s gun is an important piece of American history that will draw families and tourists to Fort Miles and the beautiful shores of Cape Henlopen State Park,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Bringing new amenities and historical treasures to our parks not only provides an economic boost to the state, but is one the reasons why Delaware State Parks was recognized nationally this year with the Gold Award as the best park system in the nation.”

Mighty Mo's big gun moved to permanent resting placeAmong the largest pieces of U.S. Naval artillery ever made, the 16-inch gun was saved just days before it was to be cut up for scrap and moved by barge and rail from a naval yard in Norfolk to the park by the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA). The FMHA raised $113,500 in private donations and received several key grants from the G.M. Foundation, Sussex County Council and the Delaware Department of Economic Development’s Division of Tourism to transport the116-ton, 66-foot-long gun barrel to Delaware.

“Mighty Mo”‘s big gun fitted into permanent resting place at Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park“The spirit and dedication of the volunteers of the Fort Miles Historical Association is reminiscent of this country’s ‘Greatest Generation’ that built and manned Fort Miles and protected the region during World War II,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “We are incredibly appreciative of the Association’s efforts to save one of the Missouri’s big guns and bring it to Cape, along with all of the other great things the group has done to restore the fort. The gun is representative of those who were stationed at Fort Miles for coastal defense. Now students, veterans, families, visitors and history buffs can relive an important part of Delaware history surrounded by the buildings and artifacts that will help make that experience come alive.”

“The Fort Miles Historical Association is proud and honored to partner with Delaware State Parks and create this final resting place for the Missouri barrel #371,” said FMHA President Gary Wray. “The barrel is the centerpiece of our Fort Miles Museum which, when completed, will be the best World War II museum inside a World War II facility in the U.S.”

A 90,000-pound concrete base, a 70,000-pound slide, a 38,500-pound yoke and other parts have been assembled in order to create a safe and appropriate gun emplacement for the historic barrel. Funding for placement of the barrel came from state appropriations through DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation.

At the fort today, Lockwood Company, subcontractor for the site contractor Kent Construction Co., lowered the freshly-polished barrel onto the concrete pad using a 500-ton crane. The total weight of the permanent display is more than 300 tons. The gun takes its place among other big guns already nestled among the sand dunes at Battery 519.

Fort Miles was a major operational center for U.S. coastal defenses during World War II. The Delaware River was a chief priority for defense planners because of the access it afforded to the large trade centers of Wilmington and Philadelphia. During the war, the fort was equipped with heavy guns, mine fields and searchlights for in-depth defense.

However, the growing use of long-range missiles brought an end to harbor defenses in the U.S., and by 1958, Fort Miles was no longer needed for the defense of the region. In 1964, 543 acres of the base were returned to the state of Delaware, forming the heart of Cape Henlopen State Park. In April, 2005, Fort Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The new Artillery Park at Fort Miles, which is scheduled to open this summer, will feature more big guns and include a central pathway that will display wayside exhibits that tell the story behind each gun. The park will also feature amenities commemorating the role of the fort during wartime.

The Fort Miles Historical Association is a nonprofit group whose mission is to preserve, protect and defend all aspects of Fort Miles working with community and state stakeholders and other interested parties. The association’s goal is to work as an active partner with the State of Delaware to develop the historical potential of Fort Miles.

Media Contacts: Beth Shockley or Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 175