History EcoTour - A River Runs Through It

It was 9:50am on Wednesday morning. The sun was shining bright, and the heat was no joke. Walking up the steps of the Milford Museum, in Milford, Delaware, our tour group was greeted by a lovely, larger than life ladybug named Lulu. Fun fact: the ladybug is the Delaware state bug, which was decided by a 2nd grade class at Lulu M. Ross Elementary School back in 1974.

The Delmarva Discover Tours History Eco Tour along the Mispillion River is an incredible opportunity to learn about the historical importance of the Mispillion River. Throughout the tour, you get to see and learn about the different segments of the river and the historical and/or ecological importance of each location. Starting along the river in downtown Milford, working your way up to the DuPont Nature Center and the mouth of the river, and ending at Abbott's Mill with the headwaters of the river - it is quite the tour!

The tour begins at the Milford Museum. If you've never checked out the Milford Museum, there are some incredible artifacts there, from old war uniforms and ancient books to a vintage hair curler machine and a full blown ladybug room.

Once we left the museum, we then walked down Walnut Street and stopped at the North Pole Creamery. The North Pole Creamery is the only business that borders both Kent and Sussex counties! They're featuring a new lemon sorbet frozen yogurt that sounds so refreshing for a hot summer day. Continue to check their Facebook page for new flavor announcements!

While at the creamery, our tour guide discussed the Lenape Indians and how important the Mispillion River was to their way of life. It was known to be their summer campsite, and once winter came they would move inland and set up camp closer to the woods. 50% of their summer diet consisted of oysters, and 50% of their winter diet consisted of venison. 

There used to be 7 shipyards along the Mispillion River, with boats coming in and out constantly. The Vinyard Shipyard is the only remaining shipyard in Milford, and you will see it on the tour! It was built is 1896, and was fully operational until 1951. Most of the boats built in these shipyards were Schooners, and because the river was so narrow they wouldn't have their sails attached until they reached the mouth of the river. It sometimes took months for a boat to make its trek towards the bay, moving with only the high tides. 

Another fun fact: there used to be a ferry that would travel from Milford to Philadelphia, perfect for a day trip out of town! You could even enjoy a fresh seafood dinner for only $1.25 - imagine that!

Our group then continued to walk along the river, crossing a bridge into Milford's Bicentennial Park.

We were given time to roam around Milford on our own and grab a bite to eat. Then, the tour group reconvened and we traveled to the DuPont Nature Center. On the drive, we learned a lot about the Delaware Bayshore Initiative and its importance to the environment.

The DuPont Nature Center is located at the mouth of the Mispillion River, and offers a gorgeous view of the inlet leading to the Delaware Bay. Delaware holds the world's largest spawning ground for horseshow crabs. The warm and shallow waters, gently sloped beaches, and jetty provides calm waters and a perfect environment for the horseshoe crab eggs to thrive. A horseshoe crab lays thousands of eggs every year, and these eggs are an essential part of the shorebird population as well. The Red Knot is a shorebird that is federally listed as threatened under the endangered species act. The Red Knot feeds on  the horseshoe crab eggs on their migration up to Canada to lay their eggs. Horseshoe crab eggs provide a nutrient dense meal packed with lots of protein, which is perfect for sustaining their long trip North. They will also stop in Delaware in the fall on their migration South for the winter.

After the DuPont Nature Center, the tour wrapped up at Abbott's Mill. Abbott's Mill is the furthest mill upstream on the Mispillion River. Steve Childers was our tour guide, and he is also the engineer and builder of quite a few replicas at the mill - it truly is an incredible sight. He is full of interesting information about the mill and how everything used to function day to day.

There are also tons of trails accessible from the Abbott's Mill parking area. We left the mill and took a short and sweet nature walk along a wooden bridge walkway that lined a stream and was thick with greenery, dragonflies, trees, and flowers. It was the perfect loop to take us back to our van and end the day!

Overall, the 6-hour tour was filled with tons of history, nature, information, beautiful views, and great company. Delmarva Discovery Tours also provided us with water and snacks whenever needed throughout the day, which really came in handy!

Definitely add this tour to your list of ffun things to do this summer. For more information, click here!