Traveling through time…and Millsboro

You may be surprised to know that traffic through Millsboro, as slow as it may seem at times, is not as congested as it was around 1833.

Iron Ore Furnace

The site of Millsborough furnace is located on the bank of the river, just below the dam. It is thickly overgrown with honeysuckle and ivy, but a little scuffing exposes the remains of the brick foundation of the primitive blast furnace that William D. Waples established in 1815, to which a foundry was added in 1822.

The furnace was abandoned in 1836, but the foundry continued until 1879. It was the last furnace of its kind in Delaware to survive the competition of better ores elsewhere. Pipes for the Croton Water Works in New York, and the railings formerly surrounding Independence Square in Philadelphia were furnished by this company, as well as castings for the Eastern Penitentiary at Philadelphia.

In 1833 an output of 600 tons of pig and castings produced with the aid of 180,000 bushels of charcoal and 7,000 bushels of oyster shells, was shipped to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Norfolk. When the industry was at its height, the wagons stood head-to-tail waiting to be unloaded with bog iron, from the furnace, out past Five Forks toward Hickory Hill, and from where the post office now stands, to Betts Pond ( from History of Millsboro, c. 1950, courtesy Dick Carter).

Though the locations mentioned here may not be exactly known to all readers, you can get enough of a sense of where things are in the accounting to understand that traffic was more heavily impeded and for a greater length of time back then, than now allowed by modern, automatic traffic control devices.

And, you can escape the fumes of the vehicle in front of you from within the confines of your air-conditioned passenger compartment. That’s something they couldn’t do in 1833!

Even so, sitting in traffic is not on everyone’s list of things to do on any given day, and we should be thankful that our elected officials are well aware of a need for improvement. In May, Monica Scott reported in the Coastal Point:

“We support a Millsboro bypass that starts north of town in the Stockley area and heads southeast toward SR 24 east of Millsboro, specifically merging with SR 24 east of the Mountaire poultry plant,” they wrote to Markell.

“We support safety improvements for the intersections along U.S. 113 south of Millsboro to the Maryland state line, as there have been several horrific accidents along this stretch of road. We feel that this area should be given priority preference due to the increased safety concerns.

“The Sussex County legislators also agree that this should not be treated as one all-encompassing project, but should be broken up into several smaller components so that they can be begun and completed more quickly and efficiently. We also feel that the projects should begin at the southern end of U.S. 113 and work north toward Milford.”

The letter was signed by House Majority Leader Peter C. Schwartzkopf (14th), Rep. Daniel B. Short (39th), Rep. John C. Atkins (41st), Sen. David L. Wilson (35th), Rep. Ruth Briggs King (37th), Sen. Joseph W. Booth (19th), House Minority Whip Rep. Gerald W. Hocker (38th), Sen. George H. Bunting (20th), Rep. Harvey R. Kenton (36th), Senate Minority Leader F. Gary Simpson (18th), Rep. Clifford G. Lee (40th) and Sen. Robert Venables (21st).