Indian River Lifesaving Station offers programs galore
The Indian River Life-Saving Station may be a well-kept secret in the Quiet Resorts, but the programs the Delaware State Parks’ site has to offer hold appeal for residents and visitors alike.
“All of our programs are popular,” said Site Manager Dorothy Payton. “We have programs for all ages. Most of our programs are all-ages, and then there are some exceptions for some of our programs.”
Peyton said the programs held at the station usually come from ideas suggested by staff members, “generally through ideas that different staff members that come up with, and we try things. Some things are more successful than others, so if they prove to be successful over time they become a regular part of our program offering.”
Programs are generally limited to the number of people who can participate, due to space and supply limitations, which is why, Payton said, registration is always required. She added that participants always seem pleased with the time they’ve spent at the station and in the programs.
“The success of our programs speaks for itself. We’re generally full, certainly in-season, maybe not always in the offseason. They’re usually full and incredibly successful.”
On June 26 a program called Morse Code Necklaces will be offered, in which participants 6 or older can learn about the history of the code, which is an alphabetic code of long and short sounds, used as a communication devise by military and maritime personnel.
That same day, participants of all ages can participate in the Station’s Beachcombing program, which teaches about commonly found items on the Delaware seashore.
“It’s led by a park naturalist,” explained Payton, “who comes out with a tackle box full of seashells and other items that are commonly found on our Delaware beaches. They talk about each of them, what kind of organism they come from, and then the participants have an opportunity to go out on the beach and look for shells. It makes it nice because they are now able to identify the commonly-found shells on our beaches.”
On June 28, people of all ages can participate in the Station’s Lantern Tour, which is a lantern-guided tour of the station’s museum and beach, giving participants a unique chance to learn the history of the station.
“When people come to visit the Life-Saving Station museum, it always surprises me how many local people have never visited it or aren’t familiar with what it is,” said Payton.
“The U.S. Life-Saving Service was established in 1878 and merged with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard in 1915. It was a service that was established to help people who experienced shipwrecks. It’s hard for us to imagine today because it’s not a common occurrence, but in the 1800s shipping was the primary method of transportation for both goods and people.”
The Life-Saving Service was established with stations built every 5 to 7 miles along the coastline. The station was built in 1876 and was first staffed the first week of January in 1877.
“There are actually six stations in Delaware,” she noted. “The Indian River Station is the only one in Delaware open as a museum today. There was a crew of seven men that lived here. They were basically trained to patrol the beaches, looking for signs of ships in distress. If there was a shipwreck that occurred, their mission was to rescue the survivors and, if possible, rescue any cargo off of that ship.”
Payton added that it’s unfortunate that more people don’t know about the Life-Saving Service and the service it did for those at sea.
“It’s a forgotten piece of our maritime history. People who come and tour the museum always leave saying how interesting it is and how they can’t believe they’ve never been here before. It really is a great and compelling story of the men who served. You don’t have to be a history buff to be able to appreciate some of the hardships they endured, the handwork they did, and how selfless of a job that it was.”
Those looking for a one-of-a-kind activity at the beach this summer can check out the numerous programs the station has to offer people of all ages and interests.
“We have something like 30 programs a week we offer in the summer months,” said Payton. “I really think there’s something for people of all different interests.”
For more information, call (302) 227-6991 or visit destateparks.com.