Port Penn in New Castle County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Floating Cabins and Skinning Shacks
Symbols of the Marsh
Port Penn once figured prominently in world markets. As the supply of beaver fur in the American West declined, European demand for quality fur remained high. toward the end of the 19th century, muskrat pelts became an important material for fur coats, hats and winter clothing. Even after their fur went out of fashion in the 20th century, however, muskrat trapping in Port Penn continued providing food for local families.
Sturgeon roe (eggs) from the Delaware River was sold in Russia as high-quality caviar. Much of the caviar imported to the United States was often from the Delaware River, only repackaged in Russia and then re-sold to Americans at much higher prices. The roe from a single sturgeon could pay a Port Penn fisherman's household bills for most of the year.
Center Panel The floating cabin and muskrat skinning shack you see here are rare examples of buildings once common along the Delaware River. Their practical designs reflect their specific uses on the river and marsh. Fishermen relied on floating cabins, as they could be towed or poled from place to place and usually contained a small living area and storage container for fish. Muskrat shacks could also be used as dwellings during the season, allowing trappers to make the most of their time on the marsh.
Location. 39° 31.131′ N, 75° 34.693′ W. Marker is in Port Penn, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker can be reached from Liberty Street, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is on the Nature Path leading to the marsh. Marker is in this post office area: Port Penn DE 19731, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wetland Ways (within shouting distance of this marker); Port Penn Schoolhouse (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Market Square (about 600 feet away); The Cannery Lot (about 700 feet away); The Hubbs House (about 700 feet away); The Stewart House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Cleaver House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Port Penn Front Range Light (approx. 1.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Port Penn.
More about this marker. Upper Left Insert Advertisement for muskrat fur cap. Entry from the 1902 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.
Small Center Photo Examples of floating fishing cabins in the vicinity of Port Penn.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Notable Buildings • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,618 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.