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What Delaware is Known For & Famous For

Delaware sits on a peninsula just south of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and west of Maryland.

 

Delaware is known for becoming the first state of the United States of America, as well as its many museums and historical landmarks. The state is also home to many festivals and competitions including the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway and the annual Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville.

 

Read on to find out in more detail what Deleware is known for and famous for.

 

 

The First State

Delaware became a state on December 7th of 1787, making it the first state of the United States of America. In 1933, the governors announced that December 7th would be known as Delaware Day to celebrate its joining of the United States.

 

One of the Original 13 United Colonies

In 1776, the original 13 colonies declared independence from Great Britain and called themselves the United Colonies. By 1750 they had around 2 million people and were growing fast. The 13 colonies were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

 

 

The Peach Blossom

Delaware’s official state flower is the peach blossom. In 1935, the General Assembly designated it as such. The peach blossom is the official flower of Georgia, where the peach was first domesticated in America.

Second Smallest State by Landmass

Delaware is known for being small in size and population. It is the second-smallest state in the country, with only Rhode Island being smaller. Located on a peninsula, Delaware has 381 miles of coastline and runs 96 miles in length.

 

At under 1 million people, it’s also one of the least densely populated states as well, the 7th least populated to be exact, as of 2021.

 

 

Historical Landmarks

Historical Landmarks are some of the top tourist attractions in Delaware. Some of the historical landmarks in Delaware include the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House Museum, and the United States Coast Guard Historical Center.

 

 

Beaches

Delaware is also known for its beaches. People flock to Delaware’s coastline every year to enjoy the sun, sand, and water. Most of these people are tourists who visit from other states or countries.

 

Some of the most popular and well-known beaches in Delaware include:

 

 

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach is an ocean resort town in the southern part of the state. It is also one of the most popular beaches in America, attracting 1.4 million people to its twelve miles of public beach every year.

 

 

Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach is known for its wide, white sands and calm, shallow water. It attracts almost 350,000 visitors each year.

 

 

Dewey Beach

Dewey Beach has a very laid-back nightlife and is known for its great surfing conditions. In the past five years, around 450,000 people have visited Dewey Beach.

 

 

Lewes

Lewes also has great swimming conditions and during the summer months can be very crowded with both vacationers and local people.

 

 

The Kalmar Nyckel

The Kalmar Nyckel is known as the official ship for the state of Delaware. The ship was originally built in 1625 and sailed across the Atlantic ocean to North America.

 

Today, the ship is operated as a museum and is known as “Delaware’s Tall Ship.” Delaware’s Tall Ship is located in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.

 

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Hagley Museum, Wilmington

Hagley Museum is a non-profit corporation, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of America’s industrial history through an understanding of creativity, invention, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise. The museum’s activities are based upon a collection of more than 70,000 artifacts including machinery, photographs, and documents. The galleries at Hagley depict American life from the late 18th century to the present.

 

The museum, through its programs of collections, exhibitions, publications, and public events provides a unique resource for exploring the history of American enterprise and industry as well as its connections to such enduring concepts as free enterprise, invention, and creativity.

 

 

The Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware is known for its historic nature and significance to the state.

 

The opera house has been in operation since 1871 and continues to be a staple of entertainment in the First State. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and serves as a landmark of American history today.

 

Many great names in theater have graced the stage, including Mark Twain and Sarah Bernhardt.

 

Additionally, the Grand Opera House is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture, which is found throughout the city.

 

The opera house is said to have a Haunted Basement, where staff have experienced full body visions, feelings of being watched, voices, and footsteps.

 

 

Fort Delaware, Delaware City

Delaware is known for Fort Delaware located in the town of Delaware City. The fort was built in 1859 to protect the port of Wilmington, Delaware during the American Civil War. It never saw any combat but it did house Confederate prisoners including Admiral Raphael Semmes, who later went on to command the CSS Alabama.

 

The fort also played a small but important role in the Spanish-American War. It was decommissioned in 1947. In 1965 it became a national historic landmark and has been opened up to the public since 1990 as a museum. There is also a lighthouse on Pea Patch Island which dates back to 1859.

 

In “How Fort Delaware Got Its Name” by L.W. Violett, the author gives some insight on how the fort got its name. He states that Fort Delaware was named after Fort Christina of Sweden by Olaf Stille who was the first Swede to settle in New Sweden (Delaware). According to legend, Stille had made a narrow escape from his home of Gothenburg.

 

 

Winterthur Museum

Winterthur Museum is a large museum of Americana located in the town of Winterthur, Delaware. It was founded by Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) and opened in 1951 after his death. The museum’s collection contains over 175,000 objects dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and representing various aspects of American life. The museum also has extensive collections of textiles, sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, furniture, and decorative arts.

 

 

Delaware State Parks

The Delaware state park system was established in 1923 with the creation of Lums Pond State Park. Throughout the twentieth century additional parks were added to bring the total to 31 by 2010. Each park is unique and offers something different to those who visit. The variety of settings, from coastal beach parks to a forested mountain park, allows many Delawareans to have a park right in their back yard.

 

Some of the most well-known state parks in Delaware include:

 

 

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park is a Delaware state park on the Atlantic coastline of Delaware in Lewes. Named for the Dutch navigator who was the first European to explore this area, it is home to many species of wildlife including sea turtles and osprey. There are also three lighthouses at the park including the Cape Henlopen Light (built in 1767), New Point Comfort Light (built in 1823) and Delaware Breakwater East End Light (built in 1867).

 

 

Nummytown Causeway State Park

Nummytown Causeway State Park is a Delaware state park on the Great Cypress Swamp near Smyrna, Delaware in southwestern Kent County, Delaware in the United States. The park is located off of Delaware Route 12 and contains a boardwalk that runs over the swamp. The park is on the site of a farm that was used for growing vegetables during World War I.

 

 

Christiana Riverfront

The Christiana Riverfront is a stretch of land that runs along the Christina River near its mouth. The area was owned by DuPont for many years and was undeveloped until the company donated it in 1990. As a result, there is now a park with over four miles of trails that runs along the river. There are also plans to redevelop the former DuPont complex located nearby into housing, retail and office space as well as hotels, restaurants, and conference centers.

 

 

Delaware River

The Delaware River is a river located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It flows through New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The river acts as a drinking water source for over 15 million people in the mid-Atlantic region, but it also serves many other purposes such as powering local industry and recreation. The river forms part of the borders between Pennsylvania and New York and between New Jersey and Delaware.

 

 

Lewes, DE

Lewes is a small coastal town in the state of Delaware. It is a popular destination during the summer months due to its close proximity to the beach and also for its status as one of the oldest towns in America (it was established in 1631, before either Philadelphia or New York). Lewes has many restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops and boutiques.

 

John Sartain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Old Swedes Church

The Old Swedes Church, also known as the Holy Trinity Church, has stood for over 300 years and goes all the way back to 1698, when a group of Swedes landed on a spot along the Delaware River and built a small log church. This first church was replaced by several churches as time went on. However, it wasn’t until the American Revolution that the church was renamed Old Swedes Church.

 

Today, Old Swedes Church is part of the National Park Service. Visitors can still see the old church in its original spot in Wilmington.

No Sales Tax

Delaware is one of the few states in the United States to not charge a sales tax. This has led many retail and manufacturing businesses to relocate their companies or open new factories and shops within the state. It also means that people who live in Delaware do not have to worry about paying taxes on their purchases.

 

The lack of taxation, however, has also led to some negative consequences. According to Jason Mazzotta, a senior research analyst in the Philadelphia office of the Citizens for Tax Justice, there is a disparity within Delaware. Though people do not have to pay taxes on their purchases, they are still required to pay property tax and income tax.

 

Another consequence of the lack of taxation is that Delaware has had to find other sources for funding government programs and initiatives, such as the education system.

 

Low Cost of Living

Delaware is ranked as one of the least expensive US states to live in.  It ranks #38 on that list, falling between Oregon and Massachusetts.  The cost of living index for Delaware is 96.5 compared to a national average of 100, placing it at nearly 5% below the national average.

 

 

Corporate Incorporation

Delaware has the most corporation incorporations in the US. More than 50% of American publicly-traded companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 64% of the Fortune 500. Many multi-national corporations incorporate in Delaware to take advantage of favorable tax laws and business-friendly courts. None of this is strange, as the current governor of Delaware is a former corporate lawyer.

 

 

The Ladybug is the State Insect

The ladybug, most commonly red with black spots, is the official state insect of Delaware. The ladybug, which is also sometimes called “ladybird”, gets its name because it was once thought that the bug protected crops by eating bad bugs like aphids.

 

Ladybugs are usually only spotted during the summer months in Delaware (and much of the United States). At the University of Delaware, researchers are looking at why they appear to be disappearing and how to best protect them.

 

 

Horseshoe Crabs

If you ever venture down the coast of Delaware, odds are that during your excursion wou will bump into a horseshoe crab. Delaware’s parks and beaches are all dedicated to preserving the local wildlife. These delicate creatures can be seen crawling back and forth along the shoreline during high tide. The horseshoe crab is a creature that has been around for centuries, surviving changing sea levels and even prehistoric glaciers (which covered much of the world’s oceans many years ago).

 

 

The Firefly Music Festival

The Firefly Music Festival is an annual four-day music festival located two miles south of the town of Dover, Delaware on the Dover International Speedway property. The first time it took place was June 18-21, 2012.

 

The festival is produced by Red Frog Events. Headliners for the inaugural year included some big names in music such as: Jack White, John Legend, Vampire Weekend and The Killers. More than 70 bands performed on five stages over the four days of the festival in 2012. Firefly offers camping as wel as lodging available at The Woodlands.

 

 

Delaware Bay

The Delaware Bay is an estuary that is part of the Atlantic Ocean, lying between the Delmarva Peninsula to the north and the state of Delaware to the south. The bay’s northern portion is linked with the Delaware River by the Delaware and Lehigh Canals and the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge.

 

Wildlife thrives in this estuary. Crabs, clams, oysters, and other shellfish abound in this estuary. The bay is also an important fishery, with fish such as striped bass and bluefish. The bay is known for its Delaware Bay oysters, however, their restoration has been hampered by factors such as overfishing, pollution and silting.

 

Chemical Capital of the World

The first thing that comes to mind when one hears “Delaware” is probably not chemical manufacturing, but in fact, Delaware holds claim to being the ‘Chemical Capital of the World’.

 

Delaware is within the center of the nation’s chemical manufacturing industry. The state has over 150 chemical companies employing 15% of its workforce dedicated to developing and producing chemicals, plastics, rubber, paint, pharmaceuticals, and many more products. Some of these companies include E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Air Products and Chemicals, BASF Corporation, General Electric Company, Airgas Inc., The Chemours Company, and many more. Delaware is a chemical manufacturing hub in the United States, with over $9 billion in sales in 2012.

 

 

Bike Friendly

Delaware is known for its bike-friendliness and the state has taken strides in making sure that bicycling isn’t just a hobby, but an activity recognized by all Delawareans. With this effort in mind, the state government has not only passed legislation to allow bicyclers to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs, but has also invested in bicycle infrastructure to promote bicycling.

 

In 2014, Delaware was named one of the worst states for biking by Bicycling Magazine, but has shown considerable improvement since then. Delaware is now ranked #30 out of 50 on the list for its cycling friendliness. While this may not seem impressive, this ranking represents a 26% improvement from the previous year. The reason for this jump is due to a few different factors including:

  • The addition of bicycle and walking paths in the state including a cycle way from Christiana to Wilmington and a pedestrian walkway across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal that provides an alternate route to biking US 13.
  • The addition of designated bike lanes in the state including a 2.5 mile bike lane on Delaware Avenue in Wilmington and a 5 mile stretch of bike lanes on Pulaski Highway in New Castle.
  • The addition of green lanes in the state including a 1.5 mile stretch along Rehoboth Ave and York Street in Wilmington and an 8 mile portion through Newark.
  • An increase of money spent on bicycling, both by the government and private entities.
  • The development of a state bicycle and pedestrian plan to better coordinate bicycling with transportation plans in the state, including planning for the addition of bike lanes and paths.
  • The opening of a public bike repair station in Wilmington, the first ever in the state.
  • The addition of a new bike rack on the back of the Bus, the first ever in the state.

 

While these improvements have been made, Delaware still has work to do.

 

 

Disc Golf at State Parks

The first Disc Golf course was installed at Cape Henlopen State Park in 1978. Today, there are 13 courses spread across 9 State Parks and 3 other publicly owned sites for a total of 17 locations. The courses vary from beginner level to advanced with over 260 tee pads and 100’s of basket locations.

 

Unfortunately, many of these courses are not well marked and the tee pads do not have a consistent style or size. Many, if not all of these locations should be upgraded to include tee pad maps, hole guide signs at each tee and baskets with number plates.

 

Currently there is no funding available for such improvements at any of these locations. We hope that someday the sport of Disc Golf will have a larger following and the need for these improvements will be mandatory.

 

First Study Abroad Program offered at Delaware State University

First introduced in 2008, the First Year Experience (FYE) program at DSU has become a popular opportunity for students to get a taste of college life. Students studying abroad was one of the most innovative features offered by Delaware State University.

 

The Study Abroad Program currently offers study tours to China and Japan; however, more are expected to be included in the future. Most students that have participated in the Study Abroad Program chose to go to China or Japan for various reasons.

 

 

World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association’s annual competition

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association’s annual competition was a long-lived tradition where competitors launch pumpkins with various “chucking” machines. The competition ran from 1985 to 2013, but many competitions were cancelled for various reasons in the years after 2013.

 

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association is a non-profit organization where all earnings go towards the upkeep of the event and surrounding area.

 

Apple Scrapple Festival

The Apple Scrapple Festival has been an annual tradition in Bridgeville, DE for over 40 years. It all started when the Lions Club wanted to find a way to attract people to their community. The first year of the Apple Scrapple Festival was 1976, where only 3,000 people attended the event.

 

Today the Apple Scrapple Festival is a major success, with an average attendance of over 100,000 people per year. The festivities include food vendors and activities for all ages, such as live entertainment, games, contests, and an annual 10K run.

 

Bridgeville is the home of Hershey’s scrapple , which is a pork by-product. And Apple Scrapple is made of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour, onions and other seasonings. The mixture is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, sliced about 1/2″ thick, and fried until golden brown.

 

The Apple Scrapple Festival is held on the third Saturday of September, from 10am to 4pm.

 

If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip just to eat the scrapple!

 

 

The Monster Mile – Dover International Speedway

Delaware is known for its NASCAR track – Dover International Speedway.

 

The Monster Mile has been hosting the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Dover since 1969 and is one of nine active tracks that host NASCAR races.

 

At 1 mile in length, “The Monster Mile” is unique in that it is the only track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit that features just one seating section along the backstretch. The front stretch at Dover is much longer than its backstretch and packs more than 100,000 fans into a relatively small venue.

 

The Monster Mile was born out of Dover International Speedway when it began hosting races in 1969. The track’s first race was a NASCAR Grand National event and it was won by Richard Petty.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Though it my not be the biggest state or the first state to come to mind when thinking of the United States, Delaware has a lot to offer. Whether visiting the area or planning a move, this state has a little something for everyone.