DNREC dedicates new Auburn Valley State Park in Yorklyn

YORKLYN – Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin were joined by U.S. Senator Tom Carper, state legislators, New Castle County and local officials, neighbors, and friends, at the dedication and ribbon-cutting of Delaware’s newest and 17th state park, the Auburn Valley State Park in Yorklyn.

Dedication of Auburn Valley State Park
DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, Tom and Ruth Marshall, U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Governor John Carney unveil a bronze plaque dedicating the new Auburn Valley State Park.

Formerly the Auburn Heights Preserve, the park features an 1897 Queen Anne Victorian mansion and the Marshall Steam Museum, home to the largest operating Stanley steam car collection in the world. This four-acre estate was donated by Tom and Ruth Marshall, whose family established and operated the National Vulcanized Fiber (NVF) factory next to the estate. Marshall donated the mansion and steam car museum to the state in 2007. Part of that agreement included establishing an endowment for property upkeep. A historic bridge in the park is now named after the Marshall family.

“The new Auburn Valley State Park will be an economic engine to draw residents and visitors alike to Yorklyn, helping boost the state’s $3.3 billion dollar tourist industry,” said Governor Carney. “We must invest in our state parks to provide Delaware’s residents and visitors with safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities and open spaces, responsible stewardship of the lands and the cultural and natural resources that we have been entrusted to protect and manage, and resource-based interpretive and educational services.”

“Auburn Valley State Park promotes environmental stewardship and ensures that Delawareans will be able to enjoy acres of preserved land for years to come,” said Senator Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This park – and the 16 other parks like it in the First State – are also economic drivers that bolster our tourism sector and encourage people from coast to coast enjoy all that Delaware has to offer – from our unique history to our pristine outdoor spaces. Our efforts to work together to protect and maintain these lands are a win for Delaware.”

“DNREC owns more than 360 acres of this valley with beautiful vistas, established trails, newly-cleaned flowing creeks with aquatic life, additional preserved lands and soon-to-be restored historic buildings, home of the Marshall Steam Museum, and all being served by the historic Wilmington and Western Railroad,” said Secretary Garvin. “Auburn Valley State Park will help transform Yorklyn into a residential, commercial, conservation and recreational area, while also removing a century of contamination. We thank Tom and Ruth Marshall and their family for their generous donation of their estate as well, and this new park will ensure their legacy endures in perpetuity.”

The new park features a total of 366 acres, including portions of the former NVF facility acquired through funding by the Delaware Open Space Program, FEMA, and private donations. The land has undergone site remediation – including toxics removal and flood mitigation – along with the building and completion of new trails. Plans are ongoing for continued redevelopment designed to turn the area into a revitalized, vibrant hub of activity that retains its historic character and provides the kinds of amenities that will help improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/AuburnValley

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


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Observation Tower in Cape Henlopen State Park to undergo repairs beginning Nov. 5

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that repair work will begin on Tower 7, also known as the Observation Tower, at Cape Henlopen State Park. The tower will be closed Monday, Nov. 5 – Monday, Dec. 31.

This is the second phase of planned repair work for the Observation Tower. Construction will include stair repairs and painting.

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


DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announces closure of Farm Lane Bridge and Auburn Valley Trail Aug. 20 – Sept. 4

YORKLYN – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation has announced that the Farm Lane Bridge and Auburn Valley trail in Yorklyn will be closed for construction from Monday, August 20 to Tuesday, September 4. The bridge and trail will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians.

The work is necessary to prepare abutments and piers for a new bridge. Trail visitors are encouraged to use the Yorklyn Bridge and Oversee Farm trails during the construction period.

More information is available at AuburnHeights.org, at www.destateparks.com, or by contacting Laura Lee, Park Superintendent, Auburn Heights Preserve, at 302-729-4278.


DNREC’s Fort Delaware State Park to host second of two annual Civil War-era P.O.W. weekends Aug. 11-12

DELAWARE CITY – DNREC’s Fort Delaware State Park will host the second of the park’s two annual prisoner-of-war (P.O.W.) living history weekends at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11 and 12.

During this special weekend, Fort Delaware will come alive with re-enactors and historians dressed as they would have during the American Civil War. Visitors will be offered a fascinating and unique look at what life was like at Fort Delaware during the 1860s, including prisoners being processed, prisoner mail call, and firing demonstrations with blank charges of various 19th century weapons.

With a number of additional re-enactors from a wide geographic range participating in the days’ events, visitors will see Delaware history as it happened almost 160 years ago.
Fort Delaware is a Civil War-era structure built to protect the city of Philadelphia from attack via the Delaware River. During the Civil War, it was used as to house captured Confederates, Union criminals, and civilians arrested for acts of presumed disloyalty. Between the years 1862 and 1865, about 33,000 prisoners spent time at Fort Delaware. P.O.W. Weekends are the fort’s best opportunity to tell their stories.

Visitors also can view many of the park’s regular daily events, including seeing the fort’s blacksmith, listening to Civil War folk songs, watching musketry drills, and much more.
Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children, and $11 for those 62 and older, and active military. Children under two get in free. Most special programs at the park are free with Pea Patch island admission.

The Fort Delaware ticket office and ferry launch is located at 45 Clinton Street, Delaware City, DE 19706. Fort Delaware is regularly open from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

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


DNREC’s First State Heritage Park’s First Saturday invites visitors to explore science

Visit the John Bell House to find out more about how diseases like smallpox were managed during the American Revolution.

DOVER – DNREC’s First State Heritage Park will feature “Science Exploration” as the theme August 4 for the First State Heritage Park’s monthly “First Saturday in the First State,” with a variety of free events and activities.

Crime and Punishment
The stocks and pillory were just one of the ways that social science was used in the 18th century to help deter criminals. Visit the Kent County Courthouse to learn more and try them on for size.

The John Bell House will feature “Revolutionary Medicine,” a program offered throughout the day about what medicine was like in the 18th century. Join historical interpreters in colonial clothing to learn about how Revolutionary War soldiers were treated for smallpox and other diseases. Visitors also will be able to play the role of a bio-archaeologist to help determine the cause of death for theoretical remains based solely on what can be found using archaeology.

Dr. Stephanie Holyfield will present “Colonial Contagion: Smallpox and the American Revolution,” at the Delaware Public Archives. Dr. Holyfield will discuss the impact of the disease and present information about the history of smallpox in the colonial era, George Washington’s decision to inoculate the army, and how the epidemic threatened the outcome of the war.

At 11 a.m., The Old State House will host “Medicine through the Wars: The Evolution of American Wartime Medicine.” From the American Revolution to present, find out how warfare – despite its destructive nature – has led to great advancements in science, especially in medicine.

Social science is the subject at the Kent County Courthouse, where visitors will participate in “Crime and Punishment” to learn how justice was served in the 18th century. The newly constructed pillory and stocks will be on display for visitors to try them on for size.

Here is a list of programs and activities for First Friday and First Saturday in the First State:

First Saturday – August 4

9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Revolutionary Medicine — John Bell House on The Green, 43 The Green
Learn about 18th century medicine and how the inventions of Dover’s own Dr. James Tilton saved lives during the Revolutionary War.

A Capitol Experience — Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Avenue
Tour Delaware’s State Capitol building, and experience Delaware history. Photo ID is required for all adults entering the building.

Biggs Kids: Bird Prints — Biggs Museum of American Art, 406 Federal Street
Help welcome our visiting flock of John James Audubon bird prints with a special bird craft. Feathers will fly! For ages 5-10.

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Tours of the Governor’s House — Woodburn – The Governor’s House, 151 King’s Highway
Enjoy guided tours of the official residence of Delaware’s Governor since 1965, and Hall House, the Governor’s guest house.

10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Sickness and Health…and the Occasional Poisoning Walking Tour — John Bell House on The Green, 43 The Green
Highlighting stories of medical curiosities of Dover’s past.

10:30 a.m.

Colonial Contagion: Smallpox and the American Revolution — Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Dr. Stephanie Holyfield will discuss the impact of smallpox during the American Revolution with information about the history of the disease, epidemic threats, and George Washington’s decision to inoculate soldiers against the disease.

11 a.m.

Medicine Through the Wars: The Evolution of American Wartime Medicine — The Old State House, 25 The Green
This lecture examines the progress made in military medical practices and the role Delawareans played from the American Revolution through World War II.

1:30 – 4 p.m.

Crime and Punishment in the 18th Century — Kent County Courthouse, 38 The Green, Courtroom #1
From the pillory to the gallows, learn how justice was served in the 18th century, and how American colonists showed mercy to criminals in surprising ways.

1:30 p.m.

Sound, Stage, and Screen — Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New Street
Examine the science behind adding recorded sound to film and how that revolutionized the industry.

Each month during “First Saturdays in the First State,” the First State Heritage Park offers a variety of free programs at each of the park’s partner sites, including tours of the two capitol buildings in Delaware’s capital city – the Old State House and Legislative Hall – hourly walking tours leaving from the John Bell House, and the monthly “Biggs Kids” program at the Biggs Museum of American Art. Exhibits are also on display at the Biggs Museum, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, and the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Admission to all park sites and programs is free. Centrally-located free parking is available at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North. For more information about “First Saturday” events and all First State Heritage Park programs, please call 302-739-9194 or visit the First State Heritage Park web site.

The First State Heritage Park is Delaware’s first urban “park without boundaries,” linking historic and cultural sites in the city that has been the seat of state government since 1777. The park is a partnership of state agencies under the leadership of DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, working in collaboration with city and county government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector.

Contact: Sarah Zimmerman, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, First State Heritage Park, 302-739-9194 or sarah.zimmerman@delaware.gov.