I make my home in Delaware, a state with something of an inferiority complex vis-à-vis its better known neighbors. Delaware is the second smallest state in the union by geographic area and the entire state has a population of less than 1 million. Delaware is the only one of America’s 50 states that lacks commercial airline service. One occasionally sees t-shirts with an outline of the state labeled “Dela-Where?”, making fun of the fact that many people outside the northeast would be hard pressed to locate it on a map.
Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, is known not for its culture or economic prowess (though a lot of companies are incorporated there), but rather its depressingly high homicide rate, among the highest in the country for a city its size. In December 2014, Newsweek dubbed Wilmington “Murder Town USA“. Determined to outdo itself, the number of shooting deaths in Wilmington year to date has already tied that from all of 2014 with two months still to go.
One could easily explain my addiction to travel as an escape from such surroundings, but the fact is that Delaware has quite a lot of beauty if you know where to look. Southern Delaware has mile after mile of pristine beaches. The college town of Newark has one of the country’s best Main Streets. Old New Castle is a beautiful colonial town on the Delaware River. There are a wide variety of parks across the state protecting forests, fields, and wetlands. And Wilmington’s crime woes are despite thriving Riverfront, Trolley Square, and Market Street areas.
This post showcases some of Delaware’s fall beauty, with most of the photos taken in northern Delaware.
White Clay Creek State Park
Located near Newark, White Clay Creek is one of the few places where the course of development has gone in reverse; a town, farmland, and a rail line have largely reverted to forest and fields.
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
One of several du Pont estates in northern Delaware and southeast Pennsylvania, Winterthur features a great deal of natural beauty in addition to its giant mansion and manicured gardens.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Located near Smyrna, a wetland once used as a gunnery range during World War II is a vital stop for birds migrating on the Atlantic Flyway.
Lums Pond State Park
Like all ponds in Delaware, this one is manmade. Water was impounded and used for industrial purposes like powering mills. Originally created in 1735, Lums Pond later supplied water for a lock on the original Chesapeake & Delaware Canal (opened 1829). Once the canal was improved to become a sea-level canal (with no locks necessary) by 1927, the pond became obsolete and was eventually opened as a state park in 1963.
Old New Castle
Historic New Castle (settled by Europeans in 1651) has changed hands a remarkable number of times over the centuries. Sovereignty has changed from the Lenni Lenape (or Delaware Indians) to the Netherlands, Sweden, then back to the Netherlands, then England, back to the Netherlands a third time, England (later Great Britain) again, and finally the United States.
New Castle celebrates this rich history by flying all four nations’ flags (either the Lenape don’t count or they just don’t have a flag) in a variety of locations around town. New Castle has a well preserved core of colonial buildings with many dating to the early 1700s. Battery Park, located on the banks of the Delaware River, is a pleasant place for an evening walk.
Epilogue: Fall Flowers in New Castle
This year, warm weather has persisted well into the first week of November. On West 4th Street in Old New Castle, it seemed like every house had flowers blooming in front.