Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier Closed For Repairs

DNREC closes Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier for safety reasons

Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier, harbor of safe refuge
Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier. Photo by DSF

LEWES (Oct. 27, 2014) – DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens has ordered the immediate closure of the aging Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier as a safety measure after a recent structural analysis report found that the pier required significant repairs if it is to continue to be used by the public for angling and other recreational activities.

An engineering analysis for DNREC completed by Baker, Ingram and Associates found that the pier should be taken out of service and pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the pier prohibited until repairs are made to a minimum of 24 wooden pilings that support the World War II-era structure.

cape henlopen fishing pier, pier pole with hole, pier damage,
Cape Henlopen pier pole with hole.  Photo by DSF

The report also found that because the pilings are rapidly deteriorating, more pilings are likely require refitting and reinforcement, depending on how quickly DNREC can implement the pier’s repairs to keep it in service. The repairs are expected to only be a short-term fix as more extensive shoring up for the affected pilings is a necessity within the next year. For a longer-term solution, said Matthew Chesser, administrator of planning preservation, Division of Parks & Recreation, repairs are expected to be made to approximately 125 pilings, along with extensive decking and superstructure replacement.

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Eroded pier pole of the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Photo by DSF

The all-wooden pier was built during World War II by the US Army as a mining wharf. Several rehabilitative efforts have been undertaken since 2007 to the pilings beneath the section that remains open for public use. The T-head portion of the pier was demolished in 2012 after its deteriorated condition was thought to pose a threat to safety and navigation. The Division of Parks & Recreation has been closely monitoring the condition of the pier since that time and has noticed an accelerated rate of deterioration in the structure.

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cape henlopen fishing pier, pier pole with hole, pier damage,
Cape Henlopen Fishing pier poles. Photo by DSF

An adjacent bait-and-tackle shop, parking lot for pier-goers and public restrooms will remain open while the pier is under repair. Meanwhile, fishermen, boaters, kayakers are cautioned to stay clear of the pier. “It is unfortunate that such actions are necessary but the structure is reaching the end of its functional life,” Parks & Recreation Director Bivens said. “DNREC staff will begin reviewing all of the available options for repair of the pier or for a suitable replacement of the pier’s function.”



cape henlopen fishing pier, under the boards, pier poles, blow out tide, delaware bay,harbor of safe refuge
Under the boards. Photo by DSF

My two cents …. I have been under the pier, over the pier, kayaked under it,  and walked under it during blow out tides.  It is actually a very photogenic place for neat pictures, aside form a great place to fish, and a great place to watch a sunset. These repairs are long overdue and it will be great to see the pier replaced and put back in working order.  Myself and many others wish the T at the end of the pier would be rebuilt, so you could fish farther out in the harbor.  Maybe this will allow the parks to repair the pier to its original shape.  I don’t think anyone realizes how much money the parks have lost over the years from people who will no longer fish there since the T is gone.  Secretly in the past when we have a nor’easter, I have wished it would be damaged enough to require the repairs now being proposed.  I know that is sad to say, but sometimes things have to break before they are considered to be repaired or rebuilt.   The pier is a big attraction to Cape Henlopen State park, a historical landmark, and if the T were back I know for a fact many more people would come back and fish that pier.  Many anglers have given up fishing there, or resorted to kayaks, boats, and even wading to fish the area in front of the old pier structure.  Let’s hope the repairs happen quickly.  If you are looking for a pier to fish in the meantime, there is Holts Landing state park, Masseys Landing, even the pier at canalfront park in Lewes.  None of those places compare to Cape Henlopen, but they are viable alternatives for the mean time.  Be wary of the area if you still want to fish the flats wading, or boating.  There will be signs up to let everyone know to stay clear of the area.

Fish On!!

Rich King


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