Visited 3 Aug 2010 - Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen, Delaware, is one of those must-see coastal forts. It’s also very close to the great beaches at Rehoboth and it is in the Cape Henlopen State Park which also has great beaches. The fort has a whole set of attractions of it’s very own that include a mounted 12″ casemated gun and carriage, those super circular observation/fire control towers, reconstructed World War II post buildings, an 8″ railroad gun, mounted 155mm guns as well as assorted 3″ and 6″ weapons, all in great settings.
The key attraction for me was Battery 519 because it has a mounted 12″ M1895MI rifle and M1917 carriage. This gun has been lovingly restored and displayed as a key part of a coastal artillery museum that is being built into Battery 519. Limited funding and volunteer hours limit the open hours of this great display to just a few hours a week and the opening of the museum seems to be years in the future. The best opportunity to see the gun and carriage of Battery 519 seems to be on Thursdays or Saturday at 2pm and Wednesday or Saturday at 7pm. These are summer hours and will change when the seasons change. Call ahead! (302) 645-8983 You can seen the same view of the gun tube in the picture by hiking around the south side of the battery. Unfortunately the glass enclosure hides the carriage from view because of the dark tinted glass, a big disappointment for me.
The circular fire control towers can be seen in almost every direction and there is one right by the parking lot for the Fort, lots of steps up but it has a great view in every direction and you can spot all of the other towers in the local area. At the other end of the parking lot, restored World War II temporary buildings line the road down to Battery 519. Lots of work and care has been put into these restoring buildings and they probably look better than they did when they were originally built. As you come to the end of the buildings the gun park begins and the first thing you notice is the 8″ railroad gun complete with a set of rails but no rail car. Guns seem to surround the old recreation building, everything from 90mm to 6″ mounted guns. Great display and lots of information.
The largest gun battery at Fort Miles was the 16″ Battery Smith (Const 118) and it is just down the road south of the restored fort buildings. The Battery now sits behind the Biden Environmental Training Center and is used by the Park Maintenance Section as a motor pool and storage area. You can get around it if the gates are open but not inside. The #2 emplacement looks like it was modified to be the base theater.
Further south down the road is Battery Herring (Const 221) which was one of the 200 series 6″ gun batteries. Battery Herring is stripped of it’s sand cover and sits fully exposed behind a fence. You can photograph emplacement #2 through the fence but you have to walk further down the road and up a bank to see emplacement #1.
The remainder of the batteries are out on the northern point and are mostly just gun pads except for Battery Hunter (Const 222) which I could not find before it was time to go. I did find the four Panama mounts for Battery 22. Emplacement #1 is right under the wooden walkway leading from the bathhouse to the beach and the three others trail off to the left.
This was a most enjoyable day and well worth the two hour drive from fort Meade.
This post was written by JohnStanton on August 5, 2010