Fenwick Island State Park

Fenwick Island State Park

Geobox Protected Area
name = Fenwick Island State Park
native_name =
other_name =
other_name1 =
category_local = Delaware State Park
category_iucn =

image_caption = Looking south at Fenwick Island State Park beach
etymology_type = Named for
etymology = Thomas Fenwick
country = United States
state = Delaware
region_type = County
region = Sussex
district_type =
district =
city =
location =
lat_d = 38
lat_m = 28
lat_s = 45
lat_NS = N
long_d = 75
long_m = 03
long_s = 45
long_EW = W
elevation_imperial = 0
elevation_round = 1
area_unit = acre
area_imperial = 344
area_round = 1
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established_type =
established = 1966
management_body = Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
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free_type = Nearest city
free = Ocean City, Maryland
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map_caption = Location of Fenwick Island State Park in Delaware
map_locator = Delaware
map_first =
website = [http://www.destateparks.com/fenwick/fisp.htm Fenwick Island State Park]

Fenwick Island State Park is a 344 acre (1.39 km²) Delaware state park between Ocean City, Maryland and Bethany Beach, Delaware in Sussex County, Delaware in the United States. Originally part of Delaware Seashore State Park, it was established in 1966 and renamed in 1981. The park, on a narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay, is largely undevolped in comparison to the beach communities that surround it. Fenwick Island State Park is open for year round recreation from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.


Fenwick Island is named for Thomas Fenwick a planter to migrated to the Thirteen Colonies from York, England. He was granted rights to the land by Lord Baltimore, the second Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland, in 1682. Fenwick never actually lived on Fenwick Island, but he did rise to a position of importance in Sussex County government. He served as a Justice of the Peace, Sheriff and register of wills until his death in 1708. Some legends contend that Fenwick swam ashore at Fenwick Island after being thrown overboard by pirates. Most historians do not believe that this happened. It is, however, likely that Fenwick's future son-in-law did swim ashore. William Fassett swam ashore after being cast off by a group of pirates. He would go on to marry Fenwick's daughter, Mary and claim the land of Fenwick Island for himself. cite web | url = http://www.fenwickisland.org/history.htm | title = History of Fenwick Island | accessdate = 2007-09-20 | publisher = Town of Fenwick Island ]

Colonial ownership of Fenwick Island was disputed between the family of William Penn, governor of the Province of Pennsylvania and Delaware Colony and the family of Cæcilius Calvert governor of the Province of Maryland. The dispute was settled in the 1750s when the Trans-Peninsular Line was drawn. This line which forms the southern boundary of Delaware begins on Fenwick Island at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

While the governors of Delaware and Maryland were arguing over the correct boundaries, pirates used the harbors of Little Assawoman Bay to the west of Fenwick Island State Park as a safe haven. For 100 years the pirates raided the ships of local and passing sea capitans, using Cedar Island in the bay as their base of operations.

Fenwick Island has remained largely undeveloped because it is a narrow peninsula that is just 3 miles (4.82 km) wide. The constantly shifting dunes have made commercial and residential development difficult. The town of Fenwick Island is located just above the Delaware/Maryland border. cite web | url = http://www.destateparks.com/fenwick/fisp.asp | title = The Quiet Beach | accessdate = 2007-09-20 | publisher = Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control ] . Despite several descriptions of Fenwick Island as a barrier island, it is clear from maps that it is not a true island. The border between Maryland and Delaware below Fenwick Island is a land boundary. Ocean City, Maryland occupies the southern tip of the peninsula on which Fenwick Island is situated.

Ownership of the land was designated to the state of Delaware in 1926. It was used as part of the coastal defense system during the World War II years. An observation tower from this era still stands at the northern end of the park. Management of the property was transferred from the Delaware Highway Department to the State Park Commission in 1966. Fenwick Island State Park was originally the souther portion of Delaware Seashore State Park. The parks were divided in 1981. Fenwick Island State Park is managed in conjunction with Holts Landing State Park on Indian River Bay to the north.


Fenwick Island State Park borders the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay. This give visitors to the park to experience two different coastlines on one patch of land. The beach at the ocean is open to swimming, surfing and surf fishing. It is monitored by lifeguards from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00pm, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. A modern bathhouse is equipped with showers, changing rooms, a gift shop and food concession. Visitors to the park, interested in surf fishing, are permitted to drive vehicles onto the beach provided they purchase a permit at the gift shop or from the offices at Delaware Seashore State Park.

The bay side of the park is open to fishing, recreational crabbing, clamming, sailing and windsurfing and kayaking. cite web | url = http://www.destateparks.com/fenwick/assawoman.htm | title = Little Assawoman Bay | accessdate = 2007-09-20 | publisher = Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control ] Visitors to the park may rent various types of watercraft and receive sailing lessons from an outfitter across bay at the Assawoman Wildlife Area.

Nearby state parks

The following state parks are within convert|30|mi|km of Fenwick Island State Park:
*Assateague State Park (Maryland)
*Cape Henlopen State Park (Sussex County)
*Cape May Point State Park (New Jersey)
*Delaware Seashore State Park (Sussex County)
*Holts Landing State Park (Sussex County)
*Killens Pond State Park (Kent County)
*Trap Pond State Park (Sussex County)


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