Bus tours to focus on heritage, pride of Sussex County
The public is being invited to learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Sussex County during a series of bus tours with former Delaware State Archivist Russ McCabe. All tours begin and end at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal in Lewes and consist of multiple stops corresponding to a given topic.
Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased in advance by calling (302) 645-7670, ext. 10. Limited spaces are available.
The series of tours with Russ McCabe is being offered in coordination with the Lewes Historical Society, Southern Delaware Tourism and the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
On Saturday, April 28, the first of six planned tours – A River Runs Through It: Delaware’s Historic Mispillion River – will feature visits to several sites that chronicle the natural and cultural heritage of the scenic waterway that separates Kent and Sussex counties.
The tour will begin with a stop at the Dupont Nature Center in Slaughter Beach. Operated by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Center is located where the river meets the Delaware Bay, offering visitors an opportunity to learn about horseshoe crabs, migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, as well as the historic impact of man’s presence in the Delaware Estuary.
From there, the tour will move upriver to Milford for a behind-the-scenes visit to the restored Vinyard Shipyard, where owners Joan and Sudler Lofland will guide participants through the only remaining working boatyard of its type in Southern Delaware. There will be an opportunity to board the restored yacht Augusta, which was constructed on-site in 1927.
After lunch at Milford’s annual Bug and Bud Festival, the tour will proceed to Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, located on the headwaters of the Mispillion on scenic Abbott’s Mill Pond. Operated by the Delaware Nature Society the complex includes the 313-acre Milford Mill Ponds Nature Preserve, an interactive nature center, extensive trail system and one of Delaware’s last operational grist and roller mills.
The story of Sussex County’s struggle over the issue of slavery and freedom and the divisive years of the Civil War will be the focus of the Where North Meets South tour, on Saturday, June 2. Beginning with a visit to the place where Mason and Dixon began their historic survey at a location known as the Middle Point, west of present-day Delmar, the tour will include stops at several sites that tell the story of the conflicts that divided families and neighbors before and during the war that threatened our nation’s survival.
Scheduled stops include the historic Woodland Ferry and a new state historical marker recognizing the crimes of the notorious Patty Cannon, who kidnapped free persons of color for sale into slavery. Visitors will tour the state’s only surviving log slave quarters, at the Ross Plantation in Seaford, home of one of Delaware’s most prominent Southern sympathizers, before traveling to Milford to see the Parson Thorne Mansion, home of wartime governor and Union supporter William Burton.
Following a stop to see a statue honoring Civil War Gen. Alfred Torbert, the trip will conclude with a visit to the resting place of several Delawareans who served as members of the U.S. Colored Troops during the war. Lunch will be offered at Jimmy’s Grille in Bridgeville.
The tour series will continue through October. For a full tour schedule, with topics ranging from ecological diversity and religious heritage to historic landmarks and more, visit http://www.historiclewes.org/Sussex-Heritage-Tours or call the Lewes Historical Society at (302) 645-7670.