Fort Delaware State Park and Museum
The moment visitors begin their journey to Fort Delaware State Park it becomes clear it will be a unique experience. Fort Delaware State Park is located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River, just ½ mile from Delaware City and is only accessible by boat.
Brief History of Fort Delaware State Park and Museum
In 1815, the United State Army built a fortress on the island to protect Wilmington’s and Philadelphia’s harbors. The original fort, which was made of wood, burned down, so in 1859, a sturdy brick and granite fortress was built. Soon after the Civil War began, it became a Prisoner of War Camp. Over 30,000 Confederate soldiers, union deserters, and political prisoners were imprisoned at the Fort; many of the prisoners were Confederate soldiers who were captured at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Fort was abandoned by 1870, but during the Spanish-American War, large guns (canons) were installed, and a garrison was stationed at the Fort until 1903. Troops were again stationed at the Fort during World War I and World War II. In 1945, the United States Army transferred ownership to the State of Delaware, and Fort Delaware became a state park which was open for public use.
Getting to Fort Delaware State Park
The only way to access Fort Delaware State Park is by ferry. Visitors are not allowed to dock private boats, therefore private transport to the park isn’t permitted. The ferry runs from Delaware City, Delaware to the state park. It is possible to make reservations 24 hours in advance by calling 1-877-98-PARKS. Reservations can also be made online.
The ferry is also available at a first-come, first serve basis at the ferry ticket office in Delaware City. The ferry is located at 45 Clinton Street, Delaware City, Delaware. The ferry also goes to Fort Mott, New Jersey.
The first ferry leaves Delaware City at 10 a.m., and the last ferry leaves Fort Delaware State Park at 4:00 p.m. A complete schedule of the ferry times is available online.
Museum Exhibits and More at Fort Delaware State Park
Fort Delaware is a hands-on history park and museum with re-enactors providing a glimpse into what was happening at the Fort in 1864 and how people lived. Throughout the day, reenactment programs are on display.
The daily programs include a look into the lives of those who were living at the Fort. The programs focus on a laundress, a blacksmith, the ordnance sergeant, an infantry drill, escape attempts, food preparation, and the hospital. The soldiers also fire off the 8 inch Columbian canon.
Ghost Tours are also available.
Bird Watching at Fort Delaware
Fort Delaware State Park is also home to a large bird population, the largest rookery north of Florida. Nine different species of wading birds, such as ibis, egrets, and herons, nest near the Fort. A hiking trail leads to a viewing platform.
Hiking Trails at Fort Delaware State Park
There are hiking trails around Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware that takes visitors to various sights around the island. An interpretive map is available.
Picnicking at Fort Delaware
There is a concession stand located at the Park, but picnic lunches can be enjoyed at the park also. Picnic benches and grills are available.
Ferry and Fort Delaware State Park Fees
Adults (13+): $11.00
Seniors (62+): $10.00
AAA Member $10.00
Children (2-12): $6.00
Children (under 2) Free
Adult Groups: $10.00
Youth Groups: $7.00
Fort Delaware State Park and Museum Hours
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Fort Delaware State Park is open on weekends and holidays. From mid-June through Labor Day, The Fort is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays also. The hours the Park is open is based on the ferry schedule.
Fort Delaware State Park
Pea Patch Island
P.O. Box 170
Delaware City, DE 19706