Camping thrived at Key Box Road in the 1950s

August 16, 2022

The popularity of camping at Key Box Road south of Dewey Beach exploded in the 1950s. According to a May 30, 1953 article in the Morning News, the tenting area was in the process of being installed. By 1958, 85 sites were available, doubling the reported number the year before. It rocketed over the next few years, as the tenting area reportedly had 438 sites available in 1961. Like many other homes and businesses, the Key Box Road camping area was a victim of the infamous Storm of 1962. An Oct. 13, 1964 editorial in the Evening Journal discusses the highway department authorizing a study of Delaware’s beach lands aimed at offering maximum use. “The Key Box Road campsite and others along the beach were thriving businesses before March 1962. Since then, not a tent has been seen along the beach.”

Illegal camping occurred in the years following the Storm of ’62 before it all came to a head in 1966. According to a July 21, 1966 article in the Delmarva News, camping had been banned on public beaches since the storm, but enforcement was lax or nonexistent. In the summer of 1966, the state started enforcing the no-camping rule. A compromise was eventually reached. 

Camping reappeared at Indian River Inlet in July 1966. On July 28 of that year, the Delmarva News reported the camping area saw capacity crowds for its first weekend of legal camping on state-owned beach property in nearly four years. “The opening of the inlet area followed a hassle between campers, the highway department and the governor. The highway department ordered the campers off the beaches several weeks ago. The campers, led by a housewife, revolted and took their case to the governor. The governor, in turn, took the beaches from the jurisdiction of the highway department and ordered the park commission to open the beaches to camping.” The article says the park commission limited camping to Cape Henlopen State Park and the parking lots immediately adjacent to Indian River Inlet. 

Charles L. Terry Jr. was the governor during this time. In the July 21 article in the Delmarva News, the housewife was identified as Reese Cummings of Holly Oak. 


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