World War II Towers to be Restored

Image by: Kej605 - Own work - CC BY-SA 3.0
Image by: Kej605 - Own work - CC BY-SA 3.0

For over 70 years, a series of towers has stood on the shore of the Delaware coast. The towers were used in World War II to help defend the U.S. from enemy ships; crews kept a watch on the ocean and would have alerted the Army at Fort Miles had the enemy ever been spotted.

Three of the towers are going to be refurbished in a joint project between the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation, Fort Miles Historical Association, and the Delaware State Parks.

“We want to restore the towers internally and externally so that people can enjoy the history of the towers and see the vistas from the top,” said Ernie Felici, the chairman of the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation.

The three towers are all located along Route 1. Tower 1 is on Fenwick Island. Tower 2 is in Bethany. The third tower is just south of Dewey Beach.

“Right now, we are focusing on Tower 3,” said Felici. “We want to be able to open it up to the general public. The location is perfect.”

The site of Tower 3 already has a beach house with a public restroom and parking. According to Felici:

“Our overall goal, however, is to open the area to weddings and events, like with the Indian River Life Saving Station, but right now we are just focused on the restoration. Once that is finished then we will focus on the other activities. The major cost is the stairway system and the internal parts of the tower. We need to secure the stairway for the weather.”

The engineering costs to restore the tower will be the most expensive. The reconstruction of the concrete exterior is a minor cost.

“We have done a preliminary engineering study and we had positive results,” said Felici. “Right now, they are doing a drainage study because, through the years, sand has accumulated at the base.

The groups are currently seeking funds and grants to help in the effort. Felici says that the fundraising efforts are going well.

For the past two years, the Delaware Coastal Preservation Foundation has been named a beneficiary of the Coastal Delaware Running Festival. The Festival is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon.

The three towers are included in the Fort Miles Historical Association. There is hope that raising interest in the towers will increase interest in the fort and the history of the region during World War II.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE