If you have ever traveled along rt 1 through the state parks you have seen the fire control towers. These towers were positioned strategically throughout the Delaware shoreline. They span the coast from Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen down the coast into Fenwick Island.
All of the towers were used for locating and to direct the firing of the guns at Fort Miles during an attack. Fort Miles was equipped with 16-inch naval guns, 12-inch guns, 8-inch guns, 6-inch guns, 155mm guns, 90mm guns, and 3-inch guns. The weaponry was sometimes mobile, but was also stationary upon swivel carriages, railroad cars, bunkers, and upon cement batteries. Several of the batteries still remain. With all of the guns and ammunition in supply at Fort Miles, not a single shot was ever fired in defense. These massive concrete structures were built during World War 2.
They are 17′ in diameter and range in height from 40′ to 90′. The walls of the towers are 1′ thick steel reinforced concrete. Each of the towers only took 8 days to construct and they were only expected to last 10 years. One tower has been restored and is open to the public in Cape Henlopen. There is also one other tower that was restored in 1986 and is still in use by the Delaware pilots association today.
The remaining towers have sat dormant for decades but thanks to the Delaware seashore preservation foundation the remaining towers are getting a much needed facelift and restoration. Once completed the towers will be open to the public and offer interpretive tours of these historic landmarks. Tower #3 located in the Tower road state park facility is the first tower under restoration. The scope of the restoration will include Concrete restoration, new sidewalks, steps, ramps, structural steel repair, handrails, new windows, new doors, louvers, screens, and new electrical service. We had a chance to stop by and take a peek at the construction and it looks like it is coming along nicely.