Delaware is only 96 miles long, 9
to 35 miles wide, and only has 3 counties, but
has plenty of history, a lot to explore, and many
famed beaches. Delaware was the first state to
sign the Declaration of Independence and the
US Constitution, helping to earn the nick-name,
The First State. The name of the state itself
also has a colorful, albeit somewhat dark,
history. Dating back to English nobility of the
mid 1500's, a man named William West was
stripped of his inherited titles and rank after
trying to poison an uncle. At one point West was also tried for treason against Queen Mary I.
However, during the Siege of St. Quinten in 1557, West served as a Captain and regained his
inherited nobility through reward of service. Later, on Feb. 5, 1570, he was knighted and
named Baron de la Warr, securing a title to be passed down to the next generations. After
coming to America, William's grandson Thomas West (3rd Baron de la Warr), was the
governor of the Jamestown Colony. It was after the 3rd Baron de la Warr that the river, the
bay, and eventually the state, were named. De la Warr is pronounced 'Delaware'.
With so much history, even in just the name, it is no wonder that Delaware has a State
History Trail. There is also an official Delaware Geocaching Trail, with 69 caches, that will
delight many geocachers as they discover Delaware and are taken through many of the
state's historic sites..
The beaches of Delaware are well known. Rohoboth and Bethany beaches are popular
destinations for the weekend getaway, and in Fenwick Park, Fisher's Popcorn is an absolute
must for many. Delaware has 3 bays: Delaware Bay, Indian River Bay, and Rohoboth Bay.
One of the 16 State Parks is Delaware Seashore State Park, located on the barrier island
between the Atlantic ocean and the Indian River and Rohoboth Bays. With just over 2800
acres, there is plenty of room for beach-goers and nature lovers. For those looking for a good
view, Fox Point State Park offers an outstanding view from any of its many lookouts. On a
clear day you can see all the way to Philadelphia!
A lesser known fact about Delaware is that it is one of two states (the other being Utah) with
an official state star. Called the Delaware Diamond, it is the first star on the International Star
Registry to be registered to a state and was done so on June 30, 2000. Delaware is also
home to the worlds fastest 1-mile oval racetrack- the Dover International Speedway.
As with many things in Delaware, American
holly trees have a long history within the state. This particular native
tree species is found in abundance throughout, both in nature and in
landscaping. A handsome evergreen tree, American Holly was first
utilized in the late 1800's in the production of wreaths for Christmas.
An extremely religious area and era, soon the town of Milton was
prospering on holly exports and became known as the Land of Holly.
By the 1930's, Delaware was the leading producer of holly products
which were exported all over the world.
Sometimes called evergreen or Christmas holly, Ilex opaca is
typical of members of the Holly genus. The leaves are thick, deep
green, and leathery with sharp thorns along the margins, or edges.
It can grow upwards up 100 feet but rarely grows more than 60 in
Delaware. The small round berries are green most of the year and
turn bright red when mature in the fall.
American holly is found from Texas to Maine, with the exception of
New Hampshire, Vermont, and most of the mid-west, but is currently
threatened in Pennsylvania.
American Holly, Ilex opaca
Photo courtesy: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database /
USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species.