Scenic USA - Delaware

Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse

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Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse - Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware

Photos by Marty Straub
Marty Straub Photography

     Although it is one of the smallest states in America, with under 2000 square miles of land area, Delaware has a fairly long coastline. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware Bay and Delaware River add a significant amount of coastal border. Including many range lights and a few lightships, Delaware once had over four dozen lighthouses. Breakwater Light - Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Despite the efforts of preservation groups this number is dwindling, including the most recent loss of the original Mispillion Lighthouse in 2002.
     On the bright side, two of Delaware's lighthouses can be seen at Cape Henlopen State Park. Marking the Harbor of Refuge, the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse is easily recognized with its reddish-brown paint and smooth cast-iron shell. Built in 1885, the 49 foot lighthouse operated for 111 years. Today, the Bay Lighthouse Foundation is responsible for lighthouse tours and educational activities. Along with lighthouse history, construction of the massive breakwater in 1829 is also noteworthy. At the time, the 2500 foot barrier would be one of the largest in the world. Costing over two million dollars, the breakwater rose tweleve feet above the water level at mean tide, averaged 160 feet wide and used over 835,000 tons of stone. Providing excellent protection from passing storms, the harbor would shelter as many as 200 ships at a time. For 2012, the Delaware East End Breakwater Lighthouse tours will begin on June 2nd, and repeat every-other Saturday. The Harbor of Refuge Light, further offshore, is closed for repairs, but tours include a close up look.

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