The History and Importance of the Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station
The Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station in Delaware has a rich and intriguing history. Commissioned in 1878, it was one of six life-saving stations that dotted the state’s coast. These stations, including ones in Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, Indian River, Lewes, and Cape Henlopen, played a vital role in protecting the lives of sailors and beachgoers in the region.
Originally known as the Rehoboth Beach Saving Station, the facility served as a beacon of hope for those in need. However, in 1921, the station was abruptly discontinued. The closure was a result of a directive issued by Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon to reduce federal expenses. This decision to cut down the number of life-saving stations along the Atlantic Coast raised concerns among local residents.
During this period, Prohibition was also in effect, and some individuals worried about the lack of surveillance along the beachfront. They feared that unguarded stretches of the coast would provide an opportunity for liquor smugglers. As a result, “Prohibition enforcement sympathizers” were adamant in their efforts to convince the government to reopen these life-saving stations.
The original Rehoboth Beach Saving Station building was not lost entirely. Instead, it was relocated to the Forgotten Mile before finding its permanent resting place in Shipcarpenter Square in Lewes in 1998. It now serves as a private home and stands as a reminder of the station’s past.
However, in 1988, a replica of the historic Rehoboth Beach structure was built to serve as the current Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station. This replica not only pays homage to the original structure but also serves practical purposes. It currently acts as the headquarters for the Dewey Beach Patrol, ensuring the safety and well-being of beachgoers. Additionally, the station serves as a meeting space for town commissions and committees, providing a hub for local government operations.
The Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station stands as a testament to the importance of coastal safety and preservation. Its existence allows for effective beach patrols, ensuring the well-being of all who visit the area. Moreover, its rich history reminds us of the essential role these life-saving stations played in the past, safeguarding both lives and communities.
As we enjoy the sun, sand, and waves of Dewey Beach, let us be grateful for the presence of the Dewey Beach Lifesaving Station and remember the history and significance it holds.