Signs point to Cape Henlopen State Park’s military history

January 20, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a walk-and-talk event in Cape Henlopen State Park for California-based artist Monroe Isenberg. He had just begun a week-long residency in the park, where he was collaborating in artistic production with American beach grass.

At the time of the talk, he was a little more than a day into the residency and still trying to figure out how much he wanted to participate in the creation process. Standing in the sand at the end of a path that originated at the paved trail connecting the park’s bathhouse and Fort Miles, Isenberg said as much as he wanted to just facilitate the creation process, it was impossible to ignore the fact that the park was once a military base.

Taking into account the surroundings of a place is an important part of the process, he said.

As if on cue, while walking back to the paved trail, I noticed a sign warning of old military explosives that could be found and what to do if someone comes across one. Nothing cements the ongoing relationship between nature and man like seeing a sign that reads, “CAUTION. Objects that look like these could be dangerous.”

I couldn’t tell how old the signs are – they don’t show too much wear and tear from living a life by the ocean, but I also don’t make it to this section of the park very often.

Apparently, the signs are a few years old, and they appear to have been installed in response to three World War II-era grenades found at the park in May 2018. According to Shauna McVey, Delaware State Parks spokesperson, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense to create and install the signage in 2019.

“They certainly make for an interesting read when traversing Cape Henlopen,” said McVey, adding that no unexploded ordnance has been found at Cape Henlopen State Park by the public since 2019. “Most, if not all, the ordnance found in the area over time can be attributed to Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen having been an active military installation from the late 1930s, during World War II and until the early 1980s.”

Signs mark changing of the times

Speaking of signs – or in this case awnings – I took a few photos last week of the Nicola Pizza awning being removed from the original location on North First Street in Rehoboth Beach. I think the guys from Rogers Sign had a hard time believing I was there. They laughed when I acknowledged coverage of the pizzeria’s move had been beaten to death. However, they also shook their heads in agreement when I said they’re a part of Rehoboth Beach history.

Every week the Gazette publishes old photos and the history behind those photos. Sometimes those photos make the most-read list on the paper’s website, because people are interested in what things used to be like. Going from one business’ sign to the next is often the easiest way to notice change in a community, which also means it’s one of the easiest ways for me to document that change. Soon enough, there will be a sign and awning for Downtown Blues, the restaurant taking over the space. I’m sure I’ll take a photo of that too. Who knows, maybe a few decades from now someone will use one of those photos in a post about how things used to be.

Joke of the Week

I’m not going to promote one grocery chain over the next, but there’s no denying a lot of popcorn is being made at the new Redner’s Fresh Market outside Lewes. I was thinking about this the other day as I watched an employee prepare the popper for another batch while getting a coffee. It prompted me to wonder if there’s a day celebrating popcorn. As luck would have it, according to Google, National Popcorn Day was Jan. 19, so here’s a joke on the subject. As always send joke submissions to

Q: Why aren’t there many jokes about popcorn?

A: Because they’re all too corny.


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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