Cape Henlopen Lighthouse fell into the sea 96 years ago

April 12, 2022

On April 13, 1926, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Built in 1765, it was the second oldest lighthouse in the country at the time of its collapse. When constructed, the tower stood on a shallow foundation atop a sand dune at a considerable distance from the sea. Over time, the ocean encroached on the shoreline, threatening the stability of the lighthouse. In 1914, protective works were built by the Lighthouse Service, but because of the general erosion of the coastline, they could not be done effectively except at a great cost. Pieces of the lighthouse have been incorporated into many Cape Region homes, and several replicas have been built over the years, including the lighthouse inside the Rehoboth traffic circle. This photograph was reportedly made in January 1926, just months before its demise. 


  • Delaware Cape Region History in Photographs, published every Tuesday in the Cape Gazette, features historical photos from Delaware's Cape Region - particularly - and from throughout Sussex County and Delaware generally.

    Readers are invited to submit photos of historic interest. They can be mailed to the Cape Gazette at PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958, or via email to

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