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Fort Miles
April 2011
Fort Miles is a historic Army base at in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park in southern Delaware. The fort consists of 15 observation towers (11 in Delaware, 4 in New Jersey), 10 gun batteries and other support structures such as barracks, etc. It was built during World War II to defend the mouth of the Delaware Bay from German ships and u-boats that might want to do harm to the vital ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

This facility holds a special interest for me because the people who assesed incoming vessels and decided whether the Army should blow them out of the water were US Navy sailors. One of those sailors on watch in Fire Control Tower #9 was my grandfather. While visiting Cape Henlopen we were lucky enough to be there on a day when the facilities were open for tours. We climbed tower #7 and toured gun battery 519. We also watched as renactors acted out a battle with the Germans that thankfully never really took place at Fort Miles.

(click any photo for a larger version)

02 Tower 13 04 Tower 7 08 View from Tower 7
Fire Control Tower 13 as seen from the entrance to Cape Henlopen State Park
Fire Control Tower 7 is the only tower that is currently open to the public
The view from tower 7. I don't think anyone is actually lost 50 feet from the parking lot.
14 Ship in Bay 15 Tower 8 18 Delaware Breakwater Light
The towers of Fort Miles were meant to provide a view of incoming enemy ships. Now the only ships coming into the Delaware Bay are commercial vessels.
Fire Control Tower 8 as seen from tower 7
Delaware Breakwater Light as seen from tower 7
19 Barracks 21 Tower 12 22 Tower 7
The barracks and other support buildings have also been preserved and can be toured
Fore Control Tower 12 as seen from tower 7
Tower 7 is open to the public and is well worth climbing
23 Fort Miles Sign 24 Barracks 26 Jeep
Fort Miles was named for Lt. Gen. Nathan Appleton Miles
The barracks and other support buildings have also been preserved and can be toured
Period vehicles added realism to the Fort
30 Bicycle 31 Tower 7 32 Soldier on Bicycle
You don't usually think of bicycles as military vehicles
Tower 7 as seen from the barracks area
You don't usually think of bicycles as military vehicles
34 Guns & Soldier 35 Barracks 36 German Hat
Many of the original guns are still in place at Fort Miles
This old barracks building was dressed up as a German barracks the day we were there
A German cap in the German barracks
38 German Motorcycle 40 Naval Officer 42 Gun
German Motorcycle with sidecar
The Navy also had a presence at Fort Miles
Many of the original guns are still in place at Fort Miles
46 German Soldiers 48 German Soldier 49 German Motorcycle
The Germans are coming!
The Germans are coming!
The Germans are coming!
50 Jeep 54 Photographer 55 Soldiers
US Army re-enactors fend off the "Germans"
Even a World War 2 Army photographer knows the value of a Nikon DSLR
US Army re-enactors fend off the "Germans"
56 Surrendering German Soldier 57 Searchlight 58 Beach
Not surprisingly, the Germans lost. What was surprising was that they did it while smoking pipes.
Massive searchlights also played an important part in Fort Miles defense of the Delaware Bay
The beaches of Fort Miles are still off limits due to the risk of unexploded ordinance (UXO)
61 Battery Entrance 62 Hall 67 Twelve Inch Gun
The entrances to gun battery 519
Gun battery 519 has around 20 feet of concrete above and below it
The main 12 inch gun of battery 519 was originally aboar the Battleship USS Wyming
68 Cacti
Cacti grow in Delaware, who knew?

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