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Restoration underway on coastal tower

Volunteers, state powerwash WWII structure
October 11, 2017

An iconic World War II watchtower overlooking the sandy stretch south of Dewey Beach is undergoing a transformation.

Tower 3 at Tower Road in Delaware Seashore State Park is getting cleaned up and ready for restoration as a public attraction.

“We want to turn it into a destination stop, then people can come farther up to our new museum,” said Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association. “Rehabbing Tower 3 was the first part of the plan.”

Restoring the 58-foot-tall World War II tower began with a partnership between the Fort Miles Historical Association, Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Parks and Recreation nearly a decade ago, he said.

“It's a team effort,” Wray said. Tower 3 is one of 11 remaining World War II towers, once used to watch out for enemy ships and keep an eye on the minefield at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, according to the FMHA website. The other towers can be found nearby – one about 900 feet away from Tower 3, one at the Indian River Inlet, one near South Bethany and the rest at Cape Henlopen State Park.

“The towers were all part of Fort Miles, and they happen to go up and down the Delaware landscape,” Wray said.

The Bunker Busters – dedicated volunteers with the Fort Miles Historical Association – began power-washing and cleaning efforts at Tower 3 before the Division of Parks and Recreation stepped in with professional help to wash away years of algae and dirt from the tower's exterior.

“Some guy went out there and wrote Steve + Amy on the Tower and we couldn't get Steve and Amy off,” Wray said. “We wanted to be sure Steve and Amy got gone.”

They're gone, he said.

“The tower really looks super,” he said. The association also installed a new glass door, which will soon provide a glimpse into the working ways of the tower.

The plan is to digitize one of Howard Schroeder's famous paintings, which will be lit up inside the tower so people can peek inside and go back in time.

Wray said they will also light up the tower's exterior with the same cobalt-blue lighting used on the Charles W. Cullen Bridge over the inlet. And once the groups can raise about $2 million, he said, they will install a pavilion nearby to make it a full tourist attraction.

For more about the Fort Miles Historical Association, go to fortmilesha.org. For more about the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation, go to www.dspf.net. For more about state parks, go to www.destateparks.com.

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