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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lewes in Sussex County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Standing Guard

 
 
Standing Guard Marker image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
1. Standing Guard Marker
Inscription. Built from 1939 to 1942, the 11 concrete observation towers along Delaware's coast were built to protect the shores during World War II - and to last about 20 years. They are still standing after 60 years. The towers were the eyes for the guns of Fort Miles, located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park. Abandoned since the early 1960s, these sentinels once stood guard against German ships. About the Towers - As war was raging in Europe, the United States saw the need to protect the coast from Nazi naval threats. Delaware Bay was of prime concern. The army quickly built Fort Miles in two years at Cape Henlopen to protect the industrialized and shipbuilding cities of Wilmington and Philadelphia. Fort DuPont and Fort Delaware near Delaware City, and Fort Mott in New Jersey were thought to be too far up the river to be a viable defense. The observation towers along Delaware's coast were part of the overall defense of the coast. They were the spotters for two 16-in guns, two 12-inch guns and four 6-inch guns at Fort Miles. An underwater minefield was also set up from Cape Henlopen to Cape May. Each mine could be turned off electronically to allow friendly ships to pass.
 
Erected by Delaware State Parks.
 
Location. 38° 46.583′ 
Observation & Inside image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
2. Observation & Inside
Towers were equipped with various optical instruments for acquiring and observing targets. the most common was the azimuth sighting range finder. The range finder was mounted on concrete columns inside the towers positioned to see through the tower's slits. These scopes were used to determine the position of a target. An azimuth is a measure along the horizon of the angle between an object and a reference point. An observer and a reader worked together to determine the azimuth of a target. The coordinates obtained with the scope were sent to a base station bunker or a gun battery.
- Inside -
Soldiers climbed a ladder through the center of the tower that reached all the way to the top. At the time, the towers were equipped with wooden floors and glass windows. After 60 years, only the concrete remains. The towers were heated in winter. Each floor was large enough to hold four to six men comfortably.
N, 75° 5.571′ W. Marker is in Lewes, Delaware, in Sussex County. Marker can be reached from Dune Road. Click for map. Tower is located adjacent to the Fort Miles Historic Area within Cape Henlopen State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Lewes DE 19958, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Great Dune (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse (approx. 0.3 miles away); The U.S. Navy at Cape Henlopen (approx. half a mile away); Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station (approx. 0.8 miles away); Quarantine Station (approx. 0.8 miles away); German Submarine at Cape Henlopen (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Ever Changing Cape Henlopen (approx. 1.3 miles away); Delaware’s Beachnesters (approx. 1.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Lewes.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Fort Miles. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Delaware's Coastal Defenses. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional keywords. Coast
Dimensions image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
3. Dimensions
Artillery

 
Categories. War, World II
 
Construction image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
4. Construction
Triangulation - Targeting the Enemy image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
5. Triangulation - Targeting the Enemy
Contrary to popular belief, the towers were not built to shoot German ships and submarines but to sight enemy warships off the coast. They were not equipped with weapons. The towers were built at specific sites and the distances between them were determined. Once a ship was sighted, observers took azimuth readings every 30 seconds and relied on a simple math triangulation method.
1. Once a ship was sighted, in this case by Tower A and Tower B, the coordinates of their sightlines were telephoned to the battery commander station.
2. The battery commander station plotted the coordinates along with the known base-line distance between the two towers.
3. Together, the three lines created a triangle, which could then be used to determine the angle and direction of artillery fire. The guns at Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen were never called upon to fire at an enemy ship.
Tower Locations image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, December 31, 2010
6. Tower Locations
11 towers still remain in Delaware, with 2 still remaining in Cape May, NJ
Tower 7 image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson & Mike Rogers, August 3, 2003
7. Tower 7
Tower 7, the Observation Tower at Cape Henlopen State Park is open to the public. On a clear day you can see all the way to Cape May, New Jersey.
one-time Coastal Defense Watch Tower along Delaware Coast, near Indian River image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, circa December 16, 2002
8. one-time Coastal Defense Watch Tower along Delaware Coast, near Indian River
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,033 times since then and 32 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland.   8. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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