Governor, DNREC Mark Opening of Fort Delaware Projects

Governor John Carney joined Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin Friday to celebrate and tour the largest capital investments made to Fort Delaware State Park.

Visitors to Fort Delaware State Park now have a smoother ride from the Pea Patch Island pier to the fort after the tram path was reconstructed. They will also experience more durable trails and a revamped ADA-accessible heronry observation platform, known as the Heronry Overlook, in the Pea Patch Island Nature Preserve. The new screened pavilion provides an inviting space for groups to have lunch during their visits or for family reunions and other celebratory events.

“The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation has done a great job preserving this historic site and bringing it to life for the public. Today we celebrate improvements made around the fort that enhance that user experience,” said Gov. Carney. “These improvements mean that the public can enjoy the fort for years to come. A visit to Pea Patch Island is a great experience and I encourage all Delawareans to see this unique park.”

The ride along the newly resurfaced tram path is a defining Fort Delaware experience. Once guests arrive to the island via the Delafort ferry, they are transported via covered tram along the path and enjoy scenic views of the island’s salt marsh and wildlife as they approach the historic fort.

The previous Heronry Overlook needed to be rebuilt to improve safety. The new structure is strong, safe and inviting, and includes a ramp to make it accessible for all visitors. Getting to the Heronry Overlook to see some of these incredible sights is a more pleasant experience now with trails resurfaced with stone.

The island is also home to the Pea Patch Nature Preserve and one of the most popular wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast. It supports nine species of herons, egrets and ibis, with an estimated 1,200 nesting pairs.

“The improved visitor access and amenities on this island were among our highest priorities at the state park,” said DNREC Secretary Garvin. “Our Division of Parks and Recreation is the largest keeper of historic buildings in the state. Our work today expands on generations of preservation efforts by park stewards and ensures Fort Delaware will remain a historical destination for generations of visitors to come. These projects enhance the exclusive educational opportunities Fort Delaware gives its visitors, and I hope many Delawareans take advantage of this unique learning experience on Pea Patch Island.”

Also included in the project was a new maintenance building to keep equipment out of the weather, which can be brutal on the island. As stewards of the fort’s history, the division employees a historic mason who can remedy any damage to the fort’s brick from normal aging. The mason completed more than 2,000 hours of work at the fort over the last two years.

Design and construction for the project cost just more than $4 million and was provided by a matching grant from the U.S. National Parks Service Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Delaware Community Foundation Pea Patch Island Endowment and Parks Facility Rehabilitation Funds from the state’s capital budget.

Fort Delaware is a living history museum where visitors can experience life during the Civil War with first-person interpreters dressed in period clothing. Visitors can step back into the 1860s and experience the improved park amenities Wednesdays through Sundays from April 30 to Sept. 25.

Fort Delaware is operated in partnership with the Delaware River in Bay Authority, which operates the Delafort ferry that transports passengers between Delaware City, Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, N.J.

Fort Delaware is open on weekends only through June 11, and from Wednesday through Sunday starting June 14. Reservations are required to visit the fort. Go to Delaware to reserve tickets and for information. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 877-987-2757 until 9 a.m. on the departure date.