Why We Live Here . . . Bethany Beach
Nicknamed the “Quiet Beach”, Bethany Beach is the stretch of beach located south of Dewey Beach and north of Fenwick Island. This area was once inhabited by farmers and fisherman who earned extra income by recovering goods from ships that suffered the fate of powerful coastal storms.
Because salvaging was another source of income and apparently lucrative, some built bonfires on the beach—the universal distress signal—for ships to come help. When the ships came close enough to land, seaman were kidnapped or murdered and goods were pillaged. Because of the numerous shipwrecks along the Delmarva Coast, the US Government formed the US Lifesaving Service in 1873, which later merged with the Coast Guard. These stations were established in Dewey Beach, Indian River and Fenwick Island and manned by local families who were on call, 24 hours a day.
Each night, watchmen would walk the stretch of beach between Indian River and Dewey Beach. If a ship was in danger of running aground, they would alert the crew in the Life Saving Station quarters and all hands would push a small, flat bottom boat into the surf to save the crew and passengers of the ship in trouble. Once the Lifesaving Stations were in place the looters and murderers slipped back into the shadows never to be heard from again. (Source: gotogallo)
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Photo Credits: Photo courtesy of IRLSS.