Shipbuilding once flourished as a major Milton industry

January 19, 2021

This postcard from 1908 shows the riverfront in downtown Milton complete with at least two twin-masted schooners. Such schooners, built for the coastwide freight-hauling trade in the eastern United States, were part of a flourishing shipbuilding industry that employed many people in Milton in the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s.

Milton’s access to the Broadkill River, for transporting the newly minted vessels, and appropriate timber in the surrounding forests - as well as skilled labor - proved a winning combination for the town for several decades.

Plans announced recently for a new industrial park near the intersection of Routes 16 and 30 also will take advantage of a local transportation component. The proposed complex would be near an active rail line that connects with the main north-south tracks that run through the center of nearby Ellendale.

  • 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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