History by the Sea
With the settlement of Lewes only a few years after Jamestown, Virginia, Sussex County history is truly a reflection of America’s roots. Thankfully, there are many distinctive museums to help tell the region’s story. Following are some of the best.
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Indian River Lifesaving Station Museum
130 Coastal Highway, near Indian River Bridge, Rehoboth Beach, 227-0478
Though it’s not exactly in its original location, the restored Indian River Lifesaving Station provides a glimpse of the heroic lives of those famous rescuers of ill-fated sea travelers. Inside, you can view lifesaving apparatus, see how the guardians of the Delaware coast spent their days in the late 1800s, and hear stories of sunken ships, pirates and famous rescues.
Lewes Lifesaving Station Boathouse
Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, 645-7670
Though the original Lewes station ended up as a VFW hangout in Rehoboth Beach, the boathouse is still downtown thanks to the Lewes Historical Society. This museum houses much of the original equipment used by 19th-century surfmen, including two Monomoy surfboats, a life-car, a beach cart and a Lyle Gun used to shoot ropes from shore to struggling shipwreck victims. There are also tons of photographs of life savers doing surf drills at the Lewes, Cape Henlopen and Rehoboth Beach stations.
Lydia Black Cannon Museum
210 Union St., Milton, 684-1010
Home to the Milton Historical Society, this restored 1857 Methodist church provides visitors with great revelations about life in the shipbuilding town. You can learn about agricultural traditions and the story of how a modest settlement at the head of the Broadkill River became one of the most active communities on the coast. Self-guided walking tours are available.
Nanticoke Indian Museum
Del. 24 and del. 5, Millsboro, 945-3400
Housed in the original Harmon Schoolhouse attended by Nanticoke children until 1964, the tribe has assembled one of the finest collections of Native American artifacts on Delmarva. Arrow and spear heads, pottery, jewelry and beading crafts are all on display. The museum also includes a resource library to help people learn more about Nanticoke culture.
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