Lightship Overfalls

Canal Park in Lewes, DE. has got to be one the best parks on Delmarva. It has nearly everything. It has basketball. It has tennis courts. It has a playground with a shade covering. (Thank you!) It has a baseball diamond. It has the canal. It has a fishing pier. But best of all, it has Lightship Overfalls.

What exactly is the Lightship Overfalls?

It is a floating museum that was painstakingly restored by the community. Actually, it was once a floating lighthouse. This particular ship was in service in the New England area between the 1930s up until it was taken out of service in 1972. The ship was given to the Lewes Historical Society by the U.S. Coast Guard and was eventually taken over by the Overfalls Foundation.

The kids and I had wanted to check out the ship, but every time we went to the park it was always out of season. So we had to wonder what the Lightship Overfalls was all about and admire it from afar.

Then at the spur of the moment, we decided to head over to Lewes and Canal Park. This time, the Lightship Overalls was open. We were in business. We chatted with a nice lady in the tiny gift shop, jotted down our name in a book, paid our $5 and headed on board the Overfalls.

It was money well spent. We were paired with a docent, a. local volunteer, who gave us the tour. He walked us through the ship, which was primarily used nearly a century ago. We walked down the metal steps from the deck to the sleeping quarters and the mess hall. Everything on the ship looked as though maybe those who served just got up and walked away.

The kids loved it and the docent was great. He answered each and every one of their many, many questions. We got to see where the crew washed their laundry, ate their meals, showered. We even learned that they had to sleep to the endless sound of a siren. I cannot imagine.

Then we headed up to the control room, where the docent let my son and daughter ring the bell. They were thrilled. Then we walked to the back of the boat, where I snapped pictures of the kids next to the life preservers on the boat. We looked out over the canal and then headed off the boat to play in Canal Park.

If you find yourself in Lewes or Cape Henlopen State Park between Memorial Day and early October, be sure to check out Lightship Overfalls. If you are interested in Maritime history, or if you just like boats. It is a cool little museum on the canal. The docents are great. The kids loved listening to the volunteers recount history. It also gets your kids off their devices, out in the fresh air and learning a little bit about history. For us, that is a win, win, and a win.

Here is what you need to know if you plan on going:

  • The ship is open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend every day, but Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • After Labor Day, the ship is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until early October.
  • If you want to take a group tour out-of-season, think a class trip or some such, contact the volunteers at the foundation. Here is a link to their website. Click here.
  • Parking is free at Canal Park.
  • Admission is $5.
  • Bring your camera or phone for photo opportunities.
  • Enjoy!


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