Exploring the Sites of the Nanticoke Heritage Byway in Western Sussex County
With so many great historic sites to seek out and explore here on Delmarva, figuring out where to go and what to do when the urge strikes can often be difficult.
And that’s why the relatively new Nanticoke Heritage Byway is so great!
The byway includes many of the historic sites located within just a few miles of Whayland’s main headquarters in Laurel, and gives you an easy to follow course for viewing and appreciating them.
It encompasses five towns in western Sussex County, Delaware – Seaford, Laurel, Woodland, Bethel and Concord.
The sites on the byway are extremely interesting, to say the least, and tell a compelling tale about life in past generations.
We won’t go into all of the sites on the route here in this post, but we will highlight a few of the stops along the way. Some of the more popular destinations on the Nanticoke Heritage Byway (one from each town) include…
- Old Christ Church (Laurel). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this church is an extremely well preserved example of the region’s colonial past. Construction of this “Chapel of Ease” began in 1770, at which time the area was still part of Maryland. Old Christ Church is among a dozen churches on the Atlantic coast built before the revolutionary war that were never painted, plumbed, and have no electricity.
- Ross Mansion and Plantation (Seaford). This 1,389-acre property includes an 1859 Italianate-style mansion, a Gothic Revival honeymoon cottage, a historic slave quarter and a number of other outbuildings. Begun in 1856, the Ross Plantation was the home of former Delaware Gov. William Henry Harrison Ross. The property is well preserved and is open regularly for guided tours and special events.
- Woodland Ferry (Woodland). Formerly known as Cannon’s Ferry, the Woodland Ferry was founded in the 1760s, and is the oldest operating ferry in the United States. It carries travelers approximately 400 feet across the river, connecting both sides of Woodland Ferry Road. Approximately 225 vehicles per day use the crossing during the summer, with annual estimates at approximately 45,000 trips per year.
- Pine Grove Furnace Site (Concord). The site of this old iron furnace is at Concord, near the junction of Concord Pond Road and Church Road. Operated from 1750 to 1799, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located about three miles east of Seaford.
- Bethel Store (Bethel). Built in 1900, this retail establishment has a storied history, which is told in books located in the store. You’ll also find area antiques on site, and the pillars are actually salvaged masts from old sailing ships.
Learn more about the Nanticoke Heritage Byway on their website, and be sure to take a drive along the route whenever you have a little free time. Trust us, it will be time well spent.