The first of six scheduled bus tours of Sussex County was conducted on Saturday, July 20, with a nearly seven hour tour of many sites along the pristine Nanticoke River, the largest Delmarva tributary to the historic Chesapeake Bay.
Stops on this first tour of 2013 included the Seaford and Bethel museums, Trap Pond State Park and Phillip’s Landing outside of Laurel, where explorer John Smith first encountered the Nanticoke Indians in the early 1600s.
Begun as a pilot program in 2011 and returning last year for a full slate of tours, the outings are a joint effort between Southern Delaware Tourism, the Lewes Historical Society, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the University of Delaware Sustainable Coastal Community Initiative.
"We’ve been very happy so far with the success of these trips, where we have the opportunity to introduce more people to the wonders that exist here in Sussex County,” says Scott Thomas, executive director of Southern Delaware Tourism. “From our rivers and bays, to our place in history, to landmarks and even agriculture, these tours offer wonderful stories and scenery.”
Many of the participants on the “Chesapeake Gateway: Man, Nature and the Nanticoke River” tour on July 20 were residents of eastern Sussex County, people who had moved to the area in recent years from other states. They had the chance to experience a whole new world that is ready to be discovered right here in Sussex County, when venturing west of Route 1 and the beautiful Delaware coastline.
“This trip gave me a better idea of the western part of the county, including how the economy of the time shaped the community. It gave me a nice taste, but I want to go back to Seaford and to Bethel and experience their museums fully,” said relatively new Milford resident Maureen Ewadinger, at the completion of the tour. “It was the right mix of history and nature and I just feel that it was a good way of getting to know that part of the county, with someone else doing the driving.”
While this tour barely scratched the surface of what southern Delaware has to offer in terms of history and heritage, there are many similar trips planned for later this summer and fall.
Future tours in the series will be held in August, September and October and will highlight topics including old time religion, Delaware’s role in the Civil War, the county’s agricultural roots and historic landmarks of coastal Sussex. Each tour costs $40 and includes a meal. For more information or to reserve your seat on a future excursion, visit www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com or www.historiclewes.org . For reservations and more details, call 302-645-7670. Space is limited, so early reservations are recommended.