While there are relatively few unexplored territories left on Earth, for individual visitors and recent settlers in Sussex County, there's likely a whole lot of discovering still to do - right here in our very own back yard. Most people are familiar with Southern Delaware beach towns - and even those are full of hidden gems that may take some exploration to uncover - but fewer of us have hitched up our wagons and headed out into central and western Sussex County to soak up the pastoral views and visit the many charming and historic downtowns the area has to offer.
My husband and I became residents of Greenwood in northwestern Sussex County in 2013, and we have been exploring ever since. I hope, through this column, to encourage you to become a Tourist at Home too. I'll be introducing you to places in Sussex County that are worthy of exploration because of their historical significance or their natural beauty or their fascinating downtowns, or, in many cases because they possess all three. This month I'm starting with our hometown.
Greenwood is known as "A Nice Place to Live," and it is. Located around the intersection of Route 13 and Route 16, Greenwood offers many things to do, all of which can be found via internet, highway or byway. The original village of St. Johnstown was located less than 1 mile east of the current Town of Greenwood. In 1858, the Delaware Railroad was completed through Northwest Fork Hundred, and the Greenwood station and town were laid out on lands owned by Simeon Pennewell. His son Simeon Selby Pennewell was born near Greenwood in 1867 and served as the 55th governor of Delaware, from 1909 to 1913. Another local resident, Mary Ann Sorden Stuart, b. 1828, is remembered for her legislative efforts both locally and nationally to secure equal rights for women.
With the addition of a railroad station in 1858, the Town of Greenwood rapidly became a market town and business center, and the original settlement of St. Johnstown declined and disappeared. The town population was supported by a variety of businesses and industries including agriculture, particularly orchards and row crops, general and specialty retail, a forge, a gristmill, a sawmill and a canner. Although diversified, the Town of Greenwood has remained a small town.
Dec. 2, 1903, during a driving snowstorm there was an explosion that shook the town when a southbound train was hit by a shifting engine when its brakes failed due to the icy track. The fifth car of the train was carrying high explosives. The explosion destroyed nine houses and badly damaged surrounding buildings.
Exploring Greenwood today
Greenwood today may be small, however, it has many things to offer for the day tripper. Many shops and eateries are within walking distance in the downtown area. One of the places to visit is the newly built library that opened its doors in June 2014. The library offers a place to get information and free Wi-Fi. Next to the library is the train station that is being used today as an insurance office.
When you visit Greenwood, be sure not to miss:
• Marketplace Antiques, 12440 Sussex Highway, Greenwood. More than 40 vendors in 6,000 square feet. Unique items, and quality antiques and collectibles.
• The Station, Vintage and Gifts, 12600 Sussex Highway, Greenwood. Family-owned and -operated retail store offering antiques, vintage and gift items. Find on Facebook.
• Tamburelli's, 3 Market St., Greenwood. Wonderful Italian family restaurant.
• Gallery 16, 13 Market St., Greenwood. Gallery 16 features local, unique artisan products and antiques. Located within the gallery is Amity Coffee Roasters and Café, a coffee-roasting company and café offering beans from different parts of the world. Fnd Gallery 16 on Facebook.
• Vanderwende Farm Creamery's premium homemade ice cream is available at Amity Coffee Roasters and Café as well as at the location at 8374 Hickman Road, Greenwood and at 4003 Seashore Highway, Greenwood. Vanderwende's also offers a variety of other dairy products such as specialty flavored milk, butter and many types of cheese.
As always, safe travels and watch your speed as you travel through our small towns. Speed limits are enforced. To do more armchair exploring of Southern Delaware, go to VisitSouthernDelaware.com, then go take a ride!