This is not a typical state park. Sure, there are nature trails, there are fields for team sports, there’s even a stretch of beach and a nature center. But, how many state parks have you been to with 16 inch guns, underground bunkers, and casings from floating bombs? Welcome to Fort Miles, a retired military installation/now state park in Cape Henolopen, DE. We recently visited this gem and had a great time. We took a tour of Battery 519 which is a massive underground lair built to carry out covert missions against the threat of ships and submarines on our coastlines during WWII. This base was established to protect the waterway leading to Philadelphia, a hub for war supply manufacturing.
What I initially thought were old lighthouses, turned out to be observation towers where soldiers would keep watch for enemy ships.
They offer some really neat views of the area and I was fascinated to read about the history here.
The above picture shows the spiral staircase leading up to the observation deck.
I was concerned that my kids would be bored on the battery tour but, my son loved it. He wanted to see every gun on base. There were several “This is awesome!” remarks and there were no complaints from my little girl either.
The base is a restoration work-in-progress. Park staff are slowly putting things back to the way they would have appeared during war time. The shear size of the underground bunker is impressive.
The variety of artifacts on display are genuinely interesting and our tour guide was beyond knowledgeable.
My son nicknamed this ominous looking contraption a “boom boom buoy”. It’s essentially a floating bomb.
This bomb was anchored to the ocean floor. We learned how the bombs could be harmless to commercial fishing boats that moved freely through the area but, deadly to enemy ships. Also, we learned about the recovery process after the war was over and how the area was cleared of this aquatic minefield.
It’s staggering to think of the accuracy and timing that could be achieved with the very basic tools the soldiers had at their disposal.
There are special events scheduled throughout the year including renactments.
The park also has a small nature center with touch tanks, there were ultimate Frisbee matches going on while we were there, and a group was doing a beach clean up among surf fisherman. Overall, this was a lively park with lots to do. There are hiking trails as well.
We had a great time. If you are looking for something a little different to do on your beach trip, besides boardwalk fries and miniature golf, check out Fort Miles at Cape Henelopen, DE. And, if you want both-try Thrashers Fries and Shell We Golf in Rehoboth 😉