In the spring of 2001, one multi-millionaire made national headlines by becoming the first space tourist. Hundreds of Delawareans can do something even more fantastic-they can “travel” through time while never leaving the State. Local historical museums and sites invite you to participate in a wide range of activities. Visit a Native American longhouse, climb into the cockpit of a C-141 Starlifter, learn to make candles, soap and care for livestock. All this can be yours, as you become a Delaware Time Traveler.
First Stop: Greenbank Mill
Located on Red Clay Creek in Wilmington, Greenbank Mill has a rich and varied history. At one time there were many mills along the once abundant stream; today, only the Greenbank Mill remains. The original mill dates back to the 17th century and according to local legend, George Washington’s army used flour and baked goods from the mill. In the 1800’s a second stone building was added to process wool.
Talk to Union and Confederate Soldiers
Fort Delaware State Park, a Union fortress was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. At one time it served as a prison for Confederate prisoners of War. From the parking area in Delaware City, visitors take a one-half mile ferry ride to Pea Patch Island aboard the Three Fort Ferry. A jitney provides transportation from the dock to the fort, where authentically –clad historic interpreters begin your journey back to the summer of 1863.
The day is filled with hands-in history, which might include helping the blacksmith hammer out parts for a cannon or working with the laundress. Visitors can become “civilian inspectors” reporting on conditions at the post. Cooks, Laundresses, Blacksmiths, sutlers, soldiers, and politicians may be in attendance.
Fort Delaware State Park
Delaware City, Delaware
Visit the Nineteenth Century at Hagley
Hagley Museum is where the du Pont story begins in the Brandywine Valley, and features the original du Pont mills, estate, and gardens on 235 acres along the Brandywine River.
Indoors, you can explore the first du Pont home built in America in 1803. The Residence reflects the tastes of the five du Pont generations that lived there.
On Blacksmith Hill, part of the workers’ community has been restored. The din of old power tools in operation can be heard in the restored 1880s machine shop. Learn about the 19th century industrial age by visiting the working roll mill and steam engine.
Hagley Museum and Library
Climb Into the Massive C-141 Starlifter
The Air Mobility Command Museum at the Dover Air Force Base houses a growing collection of planes and artifacts. Many visitors don’t realize Delaware was the home of the first operational WASP (Woman Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII. One exhibit details what it took to become a female pilot for the military during those early years. Two original uniforms, designed by the WASPs themselves, are on display. These were the first blue Air Force uniforms.
The Air Mobility Command Museum
Portions of this story were first published in the News Journal in 2001 under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All copyrights reserved.