Over the centuries, the Great Dune has offered commanding views, a wealth of natural resources, and no small amount of controversy

By Lynn R. Parks | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the June 2019 issue


Cape Henlopen State Park’s Great Dune, once called the Great Sand Hill, for years has been the spot where Sussex residents went to get a good view of the coast. “From the top of the Sand Hill is a broad view all around the compass,” wrote the authors of “Delaware: A Guide to the First State,” published in 1938 by the Federal Writers’ Project, part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration.

Among the highlights of the view were the “spires of Lewes,” the guidebook said; the “great marshy flats” of Gordons Pond; the “long line of dunes down the coast to Rehoboth”; and the Atlantic Ocean “with the waves breaking over the Hen-and-Chickens Shoals in the foreground, and the Overfalls Lightship riding at anchor 4 miles offshore, steadfastly guarding the shoals.”

Also visible: Cape May, N.J., 13 miles away, which sometimes in hot weather “appears suspended upside down in the air — a startling mirage”; the Harbor of Refuge Breakwater and the “great sweep of the Delaware Bay” beyond it; and the mile-long Delaware Breakwater with its distinctive red Breakwater Light.

An often-told family tale counters the Coast Guard’s 1930s report on a chicken house liquor stash

By Steve and Donna Bunting
From the April 2019 issue


In November 2017, Delaware Beach Life published an article about Prohibition headlined “Bootleggers on the Beach,” which mentioned the Coast Guard discovering “more than 200 sacks of illegal liquor in a chicken house in Bethany.”

 According to that account, the booze was confiscated but the perps got away. As we read the story, we thought back to a family story, one we had heard many times, and smiled. What we knew happened that day in 1932 is somewhat different from the official record — and most certainly our family story was laced with far more colorful details. We figured it was time to correct the published account.     

The Beach Life story cited as its source Eric Mills’ book “Chesapeake Rumrunners of the Roaring Twenties,” which in turn cites U.S. Coast Guard records, specifically “RG 26, Entry 283A, Box 1244.” If history tells us anything, it’s that (1) official reports often don’t tell the whole story and (2) official reports often portray the reporter in a favorable manner. Let’s move on with that in mind.