“What can John C. Sheehan, a person of the Tammy leaders in New York, want with Fenwick Island?”, the Wilmington Day by day Republican wondered on Dec. 19, 1896. A tract of land at the southern idea of the Delaware coastline had been acquired by many Delaware politicians who had ties to their New York cohorts.
The newspaper prompt that that there could possibly be a resurgence of the power of Tammany Corridor that would build a bevy of politicians on the lookout for a put to unwind far from New York City.
In accordance to the Daily Republican, “It is imagined by some that the Tammany chieftain intends to make a clubhouse on the island and make it a gaming and fishing vacation resort for performed out Tammany politicians. They can go down there and recuperate soon after a heated campaign.”
Fenwick Island had lengthy been a neglected component of the Delaware coast. Apart from for the lighthouse, erected in 1859, and a dwelling for the beacon’s keeper, there had been no long term buildings around the beach front at Delaware’s border with Maryland.
Just after the Civil War, Nathaniel Bishop paddled an revolutionary paper canoe through the coastal bays, and he was impressed with the area’s natural attractiveness. Bishop’s compact boat was made of laminated paper that proved to be surprisingly strong enough to endure a storm on Delaware Bay.
Bishop recalled in Voyage in the Paper Canoe, “Commencing at Rehoboth Bay, a small boat may possibly adhere to the interior waters to the Chesapeake Bay. The drinking water programs of this coast are safeguarded from the rough waves of the ocean by prolonged, slender, sandy islands, regarded as shorelines, among which the tides enter. These passages from the sea to the inside waters are known as inlets, and most of them are navigable for coasting vessels of mild draught.”
Bishop went on to remark, “It was six miles from the mouth of Appreciate Creek throughout the minimal sound to Burton’s marshy island at the entrance of Indian River Sound … big flocks of geese and ducks were being observed upon the peaceful waters of the audio.”
Eventually, Bishop approached the southern border of Delaware, “The tall tower of Fenwick’s Island Light-weight, situated on the boundary line of Delaware and Maryland, was now my landmark. It rises out of the small land that varieties a barrier from which the sea breaks. The people today on the coast pronounce Fenwick ” Phænix .” Phænix Island.”
Despite the fact that sparsely settled, Bishop recognized why New York politicians were attracted to Fenwick Island. He uncovered the coastal inhabitants, “kind and hospitable to strangers. A gentle weather, low cost and conveniently labored soils, wild fowl capturing, good oysters and fishing privileges, provide inducements to Northerners and Europeans to settle in this nation.”
According to Bishop, “After a working day of looking and fishing, the newcomer can smoke his pipe in peace, to the songs of crackling flames in the vast aged fireplace. Here he may be cozy, and shell out his final times quietly vegetating, with no criticisms on his deterioration, realizing that he is running to seed no faster than his neighbors.”
Developers of a proposed “Fenwick Island City” declared designs for an electrical rail line that would run from the railroad station at Frankford to the coast. The new resort would be complete with a boardwalk and several large resorts.
The grandiose programs hardly ever materialized and Fenwick Island remained an isolated beach front on the Delaware coast. The plans of the Tammany Corridor crowd also collapsed. Fenwick Island was spared turning out to be a vacation home for worn-out New York politicians, and it remained undeveloped for the next 50 yrs.
Day by day Republican, April 23, 1893 Dec. 19, 1896
Delaware Gazette and Condition Journal, Could 4, 1893.
Night Journal, April 8 April 11, 1893
Mary Pat Kyle, Fenwick Island, Delaware, A Transient History, Charleston: The Background Push, 2008, pp. 49-50.