Fort Miles programs bring history alive

September 6, 2017

During World War II, Fort Miles was created as a key piece of America's coastal line of defense against intruding armies. The site housed six watchtowers used for triangulation targeting, and Fort Miles boasted a near-perfect marksmanship rating in its heyday. Today, the fort has been converted to to suit more family-friendly activities.

"I've always been a student of World War II history," said historical interpreter Scott Wallen of Rehoboth, who helps run several of the summer programs offered at Fort Miles. "I like the people. I like learning. I always learn stuff every year."

Scott and his fellow historical interpreters take advantage of their summers to help out at Fort Miles. Their roles can vary from delivering engaging tours of the refurbished Bunker 519 to helping small children craft parachutes. They then put the pipe-cleaner and trash bag parachutes to the test by launching them off the top of a watchtower as part of the Kids Games program.

The Fort Miles facilities have become progressively more and more polished. Aside from cleaned-up pathways, bunkers and barracks, the fort now has modern bathrooms. No more porta-potty.

"We've come leaps and bounds in the last two years," said Wallen. "We had a recent change in leadership. I think that had a lot to do with it. You know, fresh ideas, new vigor on the project."

He was referring to Sean Carrow, who became fort's interpretive programs manager two years ago.

"There's a lot of cool history around the park that we're trying to tap into for folks," said Carrow. "A lot of people come to Cape Henlopen State Park and never know it was a military base."

Additional Fort Miles programs include pitch-black lantern tours of Battery 519, uniformed artillery demonstrations, a Cold War bike tour, and even insightful analysis of wartime artworks.

"There's a lot of rich history," Carrow said. "This is not even the tip of the iceberg."

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