Fishing, Hunting & Trapping
The river marshes around Delaware City provided the ideal habitat for fishes, waterfowl and muskrats. In the 1800s, local residents thought this wildlife would always be available and abundant.
The harvesting of fish and birds in excessive numbers put populations at risk. Serious pollution in the Delaware River reinforced the downward trend. The annual springtime spawning runs of sturgeon, shad, and herring became increasingly precarious.
Finally, the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 largely put an end to the hunting that had harvested hundreds of thousands of birds annually. Today the State of Delaware protect much of the marshland around Delaware City as state parks and wildlife areas.
Above, in spring, the shad swam from the Atlantic Ocean to spawn upstream in the fresh waters of the Delaware River. Prized for their excellent flavor, shad were harvested from the river in the millions of pounds during the 1890s and early 1900s.
By the 1880s, the Delaware River was the country's largest sturgeon fishing ground. Fishermen harvested sturgeon roe, salted it, packed
The largest rodent, native to North America and prized mainly for its pelt, is also valued for its meat and for its musk glands that produce a distinctive scent used to make certain perfumes.
Winter was the time for trapping muskrats. Below, Ike Cleaver, famed hunter of Port Penn, posed draped in pelts.
Local "market gunners" harvested ducks, packed them in barrels with ice and shipped them via steamboat to Philadelphia, Baltimore and beyond. In the early 1900s the range and power of hunting guns increased allowing ever larger harvests of wildfowl until curtailed by protective legislation in 1918.
Erected by City of Delaware City, Delaware; Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1918.
Location. 39° 34.698′ N, 75° 35.301′ W. Marker is in Delaware City, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker is on Clinton Street 0.1 miles north of Front Street, on the right
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Historic Delaware City (within shouting distance of this marker); Building the C&D Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); The Diving Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lock at Delaware City (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Small But Mighty (about 500 feet away); Sailing on the C&D Canal (about 500 feet away); Delaware City Fire Company (about 600 feet away); Waterfront at Delaware City (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Delaware City.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 2, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 2, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.