Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sentinels of the Beach

Fred and I returned yesterday from a trip to the Delaware shore.  The beaches in Dewy and Fenwick Island are fabulous.  We had our dog Rascal with us and he enjoyed the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes as well. We walked the shoreline, looked for shells and beach glass, and played in the waves.  We even sighted dolphins swimming offshore.

While there we became fascinated by the concrete tower structures that line the beach.  They stand like forgotten sentinels.   A little research identified them as observation towers from WWII when German U-boats patrolled the waters off the Eastern coast of the United States, and Pearl Harbour had been attacked by the Japanese.  The towers provide an eerie reminder of a time when invasion from the sea was an imminent possibility.

The 11 towers were part of  Fort Miles. They were not only for observation, but were manned with spot lights, sighting instruments, and radar in order to protect our shores.
The towers that were made of metal soon rusted and are long gone.  The ones still standing after 60 years are made of concrete from the sand of the beaches that they protected.  All but 1 are sealed.  The tower in Cape Henlopen State Park has been restored and is open to the public.
There is also a restoration being planned for one of the towers on Dewey Beach.  The fundraising is underway and it is hoped that enough money will be found to not only restore the tower, but to turn a nearby battery under the dunes into a WWII museum.
We found a wonderful book in a Dewey Beach's Books and Coffee titled Delaware's Ghost Towers: The Coast Artillery's Forgotten Last Stand During the Darkest Days of World War II  by William C. Grayson. It provides detailed information about that frightening time in history, the towers and the men that served to protect us.
Books and Coffee became our favorite morning stop. Good coffee, great company, and free Wi-Fi.
In the back of my mind there are plans taking shape.  There must be a way to use the feeling inspired by these towers in my jewelry. Polymer clay? Photo transfer? Found object? Resin casting? Only time will tell.


  1. I go to Dewey Beach every October for a huge greyhound event. I've seen those towers too. I didn't know what they were until I read your blog post, now I've got shivers! I hope Dewey finds the funding to open their tower and the battery. That would be very interesting to see.

  2. The towers certainly make you think. The fundraising has a great incentive. For a $350 dollar donation you can honor a specific WWII veteran by having their name placed in the tower. I hope to be able to tour the finished memorial on a future trip.