Lewes canal restoration work nears completion

Project follows removal of historic railroad swing bridge
February 19, 2023

Work to restore the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal at the site of the former railroad swing bridge in Lewes is nearing completion. And the canal waterway at the site is wider than it has been for more than a century.

The project should be completed by late March or early April, said Charles “C.R.” McLeod, Delaware Department of Transportation’s director of community relations.

Excavation of all of the remaining railroad infrastructure has been completed, and a new bulkhead and rip-rap shoreline stabilization has been put into place along the eastern side of the canal.

McLeod said remaining work by contractor R.E. Pierson includes fencing, replacing topsoil and repaving a section of the Junction-Breakwater Trail leading to the canal.

In a collaborative project among the Lewes Junction Railroad and Bridge Association, DelDOT and the City of Lewes, the historic swing bridge was removed from the site Feb. 15, 2022, and relocated to a permanent historical display area at the end of American Legion Road.

The 106-year-old swing bridge, one of the last remaining hand-cranked railroad bridges in the country, was deemed unsafe and was closed in 2017 after the discovery that scouring around its supports in the canal had dropped the bridge's foundation 7 to 8 inches. The rail line from Georgetown was decommissioned and is now the location of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail.

The association saved the bridge from being scrapped.

The association also recently restored and relocated a 1917 caboose at another railroad display site adjacent to the Lewes Public Library and the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail.


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