Cape Henlopen, Delaware, is a magical place to explore—a narrow finger of sandy beach reaching into the challenging shipping lanes where the gaping mouth of the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Once a wartime military base, it’s strewn with artifacts from those days, including a World War II pier, broad and solid enough for army trucks to roll up for supplies. As the Cold War ended, the Cape became a State Park and the pier became a fishing attraction.
But in 2012, a threat even stronger than Nazi U-Boats tore into the mighty pier—state politics! The “T” where Navy freighters used to unload had been battered by 70 years of hurricanes and Nor’easters. Rebuilding it would have cost half a million dollars: a smart investment in tourism if you ask me, but nobody did. Penny-pinchers prevailed and this end of the pier was demolished.
The piles remain—a reminder of just how lonely and exposed this Cape can be.
I set my tripod right at the boarded-up end of the surviving deck, set the camera to 24mm and f18, attached a 10-stop neutral density filter and did a 90-second exposure, turning these treacherous waters glassy-smooth.
In my photograph, the East end of the “T” points to the red Delaware Breakwater East End Light, built in 1889. Stretching clear across the horizon is the Breakwater itself—a marvel of maritime architecture, built nearly 200 years ago by a technique lost to history.
Storm clouds loom, as they often do on the Cape.