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

Welcome to Fox Point State Park

Unique in many ways

 
 
Welcome to Fox Point State Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 31, 2021
1. Welcome to Fox Point State Park Marker
Inscription.  
Fox Point State Park is unique in Delaware's system of state parks. The park and its surroundings have a colorful history. As home to the Lenape Indians, the Swedes, Dutch, and English, it has been a hunting ground, farmland, a resort, and an industrial area.

Today, you can enjoy may recreational and educational activities in a beautiful riverfront setting. Fox Point offers access to the Northern Delaware Greenway, an urban trail system and recreation corridor with over ten miles of hiking and biking trails.

A model for responsible land use, fox Point is the first park in Delaware to be reclaimed from land that was once severely threatened by environmental hazards. Revived with help from state and federal agencies, along with community effort, Fox Point is a place where you can enjoy a picnic, discover life along a river and estuary, and spot ships from around the world.

Trouble in the Park
Yesterday's trash is today's challenge

A growing problem underfoot
In the mid-1800's this shoreline of the Delaware River was the site of fine homes, bathing beaches and inns for summer

Trouble in the Park side of the marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 31, 2021
2. Trouble in the Park side of the marker
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vacationers. The beautiful riverfront provided opportunities for recreation, commerce and fishing.

But early in the 1900's oil refineries and other industries developed upstream. These industries polluted the river so badly that the fine old houses of Fox Point were abandoned. The land sat idle for over forty years.

Early in the 1950's the Pennsylvania Railroad, owners of the Fox Point land, decided to decided to widen the property so that it could be developed into industrial sites which would use the railroad for shipping. To accomplish this the railroad brought in carloads of slag and other fill materials from the steel mills and began extending the land out into the river. Over the years the 3 1/2 mile stretch between Claymont and Edgemoor was widened, as much as 80 feet in some areas. This practice of wetland filling was common and unregulated until about 1970.

However, local opposition and the eventual bankruptcy of Penn-Central Railroad (successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad) stopped this landfilling activity. Unfortunately, by the late 1960's, without a plan for development, Fox Point had become a trash dump. In some areas the old fill material was covered with silt dredged from the river.

Then in 1975 an experiment began to try to cover the site with a material which would support vegetation. Dry, processed sludge from the treatment plant was tucked

The Great Cover-up side of the marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 31, 2021
3. The Great Cover-up side of the marker
in and spread over the surface. Up to a foot of this fertile material was built up over the next three years.

When plans surfaced to create a major riverfront park, concerns arose about possible contamination from all the years of dumping. A State investigation in 1991 revealed low levels of many contaminants, including arsenic, antimony, lead, PCBs, cyanide and other chemicals used in manufacturing processes. As a result, Fox Point was closed to the public and was designated for cleanup under the State Superfund program.

[Captions:]
Industrial refuse: 484,000 cubic yards dumped during the 1950's and 1960's
Mixed trash and dredged silt: Unknown quantity dumped during the late 1960's
Dry sludge from water treatment plant: 20,000 tons dumped from 1975 to 1977

"Waste is a human concept. In nature nothing is wasted, for everything is part of a continuous cycle. Even the death of a creature provides nutrients that will eventually be reincorporated in the chain of life."
Denis Hayes

The Great Cover-up
Solving the problem with plastic and dirt

Separating the pollution from the picnic
When it was determined that the material dumped at Fox Point contained contaminated waste, the State of Delaware considered

Welcome to Fox Point State Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 31, 2021
4. Welcome to Fox Point State Park Marker
five options:
1) Permanently close the land to the public
2) Cover the waste with a layer of soil
3) Cover the waste with a permeable fabric and then a layer of soil
4) Cover the waste with an impermeable liner and then a layer of soil
Although it was the most expensive, option 5 was selected for these reasons:
• A large park could be created
• A liner has the best long term effectiveness
• Contaminants cannot migrate through a liner up to the surface
• A liner prevents rainwater from carrying contaminants into the river

[Captions:]
The 15 acre solution
• First, the waste was covered with sand and two layers of thick fabric.
• Next, a high-density liner made of polyethylene was installed.
• Then a fabric reinforced with a tough plastic net, was laid on top of the liner.
• Finally, the layers were covered with two feet of soil and planted with grass.

Fox Point State Park is named after Wilmington's visionary activist Marston Fox who believed this stretch of shoreline was a special "window on the river." In 1954 he began a long campaign to save this land for the enjoyment of all citizens.

At a dedication in his honor he said that "history will probably develop a legend about a point in the park

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where foxes were frequently seen."

 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Delaware State Parks 🏞️, and the Pennsylvania Railroad 🚂 series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1970.
 
Location. 39° 45.46′ N, 75° 29.304′ W. Marker is near Edgemoor, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker is on Lighthouse Road one mile north of Ellerslie Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wilmington DE 19809, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Delaware: Trading with the world (within shouting distance of this marker); Memories of Fox Point (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Timeline of the Delaware River (approx. 0.2 miles away); Blue Rock Community Club (approx. 0.9 miles away); Mount Pleasant School (approx. 1.3 miles away); The Cauffiel House and Estate (approx. 1.3 miles away); A Pathway through the Past (approx. 1.3 miles away); Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church and Parsonage (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Edgemoor.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 1, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 26 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 1, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jun. 18, 2021