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

Wetland Ways

Bob Beck: Preserver of Port Penn Traditions

Wetland Ways Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Pfingsten, August 17, 2008
1. Wetland Ways Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  Port Penn is a community connected to its wetland landscape. Seasonal changes bring about changes in the lifestyles of Port Penners themselves. Autumn waterfowl hunting and winter muskrat trapping lead into spring shad runs and summer sturgeon fishing. The livelihoods of local families have been dependent upon these cycles on the river and marsh habitats for three centuries.
This sense of kinship with the environment is characterized by the traditions of people like Bob Beck. Bob's family has lived on the marsh since his great grandfather bought their land in 1863. As a third-generation resident of Port Penn, Bob had an understanding of the wetland way of life. He lived among the marshland and wildlife which he loved and worked to protect. Dedicated to preserving area customs, he shared his knowledge with many citizens like himself. Bob's advocacy of the many expressions of tradition led him to seek funding for and initiate such projects as a film on sturgeon fishing techniques, the construction of a shad skiff replica and the preservation of a floating fishing cabin and muskrat skinning shack.
Through his own faithful stewardship, Bob Beck imparted a legacy of conservation that sustains the folkways of the Port Penn community.
Left Panel Photo 1. Conserving the Environment
Having worked with the Division of Fish and Wildlife for over 30 years, Bob (right) taught the balance between wildlife protection and sportsmanship to many a hunter, farmer and landowner throughout the state. His conservation interests included the Atlantic Sturgeon, once a valuable commercial fish for Port Penn.
Photo 2 Teaching Tradition
Bob's appreciation of the cultural aspects of tradition gave rise to such events as the Annual Marshland Dinner, held in the spring of the year when baked shad and snapper soup are at their seasonal best.
Photo 3 Preserving the Past
The Port Penn Interpretive Center which you see today has gone through an evolution. Originally a schoolhouse for the entire community, the building was then used as a bait and tackle shop. With community interest and Bob's support and curatorship, the current assemblage of treasurers which showcases the area's rich heritage was formed.
Location. 39° 31.14′ N, 75° 34.677′ W. Marker is in Port Penn, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker can be reached from Liberty Street. Touch for map. Marker is at the end of the Nature Trail leading to the wetland 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. Floating Cabins and Skinning Shacks (within shouting distance of this marker); Market Square (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Port Penn Schoolhouse (about 700 feet away); The Hubbs House (about 700 feet away); The Cannery Lot (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). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Penn.
More about this marker. This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Robert A. Beck (1924 - 1993), a charter member of the Parks and Recreation Council.
Project production was through the Division of Parks and Recreation, with partial funding from the Delaware Coastal Heritage Greenway Council.
Categories. 20th CenturyAnimalsEducationIndustry & CommerceNatural ResourcesNotable PersonsSportsWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 18, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,655 times since then and 22 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on August 18, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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