Now entering…. Delaware!
State #13 of 50-States-Before-They-Graduate.
Delaware’s stop was planned solely from the recommendations of
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood readers!
For our Mid-Eastern States Itinerary, click here.
It’s hard to make judgments about favorites because we really have enjoyed every state we’ve visited, but this was possibly our favorite part of our entire Mid-Eastern States tour! [At least in the top three!] It was INCREDIBLE!
After departing Baltimore, we headed to Delaware City in search of a way to get to this mysterious fort located in the middle of the Delaware River, on an island rumored to have grown from a wrecked boat-load of peas…
…but first ended up learning a bit about the history of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
“Over 2,600 workers… dug the canal with picks and shovels for wages of $0.75 a day. When they were done, they had created a 14-mile long ditch that was ten feet deep and sixty feet wide, with four locks to carry ships over high and low waters, shortening the water route between Philadelphia and Baltimore by more than 300 miles.”
Because we had arrived in the evening, we stayed overnight at The Canal House, a lovely property overlooking the original eastern entrance to the C&D Canal. The Canal House was at one time a two-story mule barn for mules that towed barges of coal and lumber through the C& D Canal. [It’s been remodeled since then.]
Next door to the Canal House was the Fort Delaware State Park Gift shop, where we woke up the next morning and purchased tickets to ride the Delafort Ferry, which happened to be the only way to visit Fort Delaware.
Just a short boat-ride across the Delaware River on Pea Patch Island is historic Fort Delaware, a Union fortress dating back to 1859.
Originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia, this fort once housed Confederate prisoners of war.
What boy would not go bonkers over this place?!? With a moat and drawbridge, it even looked a bit like a castle! Costumed reenactors took us back to the summer of 1864 and provided an entire day’s worth of interactive hands-on history lessons!
While touring the dispensary, we asked about the ailments of the day (and the corresponding treatments)…
[In order to have a costumed interpreter speak from today’s perspective, we had to ask him/her to remove his/her hat. Otherwise, the folks here were simply going about their daily duties in the midst of the Civil War. They were not aware of who won the war or anything else of that sort because they were still living in the summer of 1864.]
We learned about how the indoor plumbing system worked…
and how the water was pumped through a charcoal filtration system and into the kitchens. The boys helped the laundress wash some socks on a washboard and spoke to random people throughout the fort, and even sat and listened to a Confederate Prisoner of War tell his tales.
To the boys’ delight, we had at least half an hour dedicated to ballistics lessons in the Equipage Issue Room.
We compared the weights of various cannon balls and learned about several different pieces of equipment stored there. But then some sort of urgent request was made of the ordnance sergeant, and he was off to attend to the Important Business of the Day. [When they say living history, they mean it! These guys were not just waiting around for curious visitors to ask them random questions. They were busy doing all sorts of stuff. It was AMAZING!]
One of my Most Favorite Memories: The boys assisted the blacksmith in making an iron hook (which we were given to take home as a keepsake!).
I really could not believe how our boys were given the spotlight during the blacksmith demonstration! They were allowed to do so much more than I ever thought they would be permitted to do around smoldering coals and red-hot iron!
This place was wonderful! The interpreters were patient and so determined to involve the kids in the living-history experience! What’s more, we had to ride a boat across the Delaware River to get there! That means we had to ride a boat to get back! That in itself was fun!
Fort Delaware is only open to the public during the summer. The last day for regular public visits is Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd. Through the fall and winter months, Delaware Fort will be open on select dates for school field trips and organized group visits. Click here or call 302-834-7941 for the schedule and to make reservations. [Pricing at the time of this writing: Adult: $11.00, Military: $10.00, Senior: $10.00, Children – 2 – 12 years: $6.00, Children – under 2 years: $0.00 ]
I highly-very-much recommend this place! We had such a blast! [But if you go, be sure to take a picnic lunch. We would have stayed even longer to explore and go on some of the guided nature walks, but… we did not come prepared, and there are no concessions on the island!]
So… have you been to Delaware? We’d love to hear about other areas of Delaware that are worthy of a visit! [To leave a comment, click here and allow Disqus (our comment forum) to load.]
Our family aims to visit all 50 states together before our boys graduate from high school. To take a look at some of the places we’ve been, visit our Traveling America posts.
Here’s where we could use your help in completing this mission: If you want to offer suggestions for off-the-beaten-path places to visit in the 50 states, we would love your input! Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for your favorite state(s), or virtually visit the other states we’ve visited to offer your recommendations on those pages! We’d love to read about your own family’s adventures… or to simply know about destinations you’ve enjoyed!