Did you ever wonder what these were? These monolithic concrete towers that dot the Delaware coastline seem to intrigue visitors. Why are they here? What purpose do they serve? Were they built by aliens? For years they have greeted beach goers. However when they were built they served a very important part of our nations history. So what are they?
During World War 2 these fire control towers were built to spot and triangulate enemy Naval activity. Eleven of these towers were built between 1939 and 1942. Rising some 80′ above sea level these towers were manned by the U.S. army with 8 men each. The job of these 8 men were to scan the horizon for German U-boats. If two of these towers spotted a U-boat then a position could be triangulated and fired upon. During the war the entrance to the Delaware bay was an important entrance to the ports and oil refineries in Delaware and Pennsylvania. It was essential that commercial shipping in this area was protected.
Hidden in the giant dunes in Cape Henlopen state park is Fort Miles. Fort Miles held the massive 16″ guns that protected the entrance to the bay. These massive guns could hurl a shell up to 25 miles out to sea. In addition to the big 16″ guns were four 12″ guns, four 6″ guns and Eight 8″ guns that were mounted on rail cars. The big 16″ guns are still pointed out to sea and visible to visitors to the area at Fort Miles. Tower 7 is open to the public at Fort Miles. You can actually go up and see what the Soldiers saw so long ago.
So how real was the threat? German U-boats did sink a number of U.S. ships off our coast and survivors of the attacks would wash up on the U.S. coastline. In fact at the end of the war in 1945 a German U-boat surrendered to Fort Miles Just off the Delaware coast. These towers are a unique reminder to a time in our history. Hopefully they will stand for a long time.