Cape Henlopen State Park Loop Trail

15099 Cape Henlopen Drive
Lewes, DE 19958

Cape Henlopen has always been a popular area, valuable for its natural resources as well as for commercial shipping, military defense, and recreation. Many books and articles have been published about the fascinating history of the Cape, but one of the most significant milestones occured after 1682, when the current lands of the state of Delaware were granted to William Penn. Penn proclaimed that Cape Henlopen and its natural resources were to be for the common usage of the citizens of Lewes and Sussex County, thus establishing some of the nation's first "public lands." Cape Henlopen's strategic location at the mouth of the Delaware Bay led to its role in local shipping and military history. The historic Henlopen Lighthouse no longer helps to guide vessels through the treacherous bay waters, but the two stone "breakwaters" barriers off the point of the Cape, completed in 1869 and 1901, still form a safe harbor for boats during rough seas. With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Army established a military base at Cape Henlopen in 1941. Bunkers and gun emplacements were camouflaged among the dunes, and concrete observation towers were built along the coast to spot enemy ships. In 1964, the Department of Defense declared 543 acres of the Cape lands as surplus property. The State of Delaware accepted the property and established Cape Henlopen State Park

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