Tenting thrived at Key Field Highway within the 1950s


Camping on Key Box Road south of Dewey Beach exploded in popularity in the 1950s. According to an article in the Morning News of May 30, 1953, the tent area was being set up. By 1958, 85 locations were available, doubling the number reported the year before. It exploded in leaps and bounds in the years that followed, with the tented area reportedly having 438 pitches available in 1961. Like many other homes and businesses, the Key Box Road campground was a casualty of the infamous 1962 storm. An October 13, 1964 editorial in the Evening Journal discusses the Highway Authority, which approved a study of Delaware’s beach areas, asking for a maximum to allow use. “The Key Box Road campground and others on the beach were thriving businesses prior to March 1962. Since then no tent has been seen on the beach.”

Illegal camping flourished in the years following the Storm of ’62 before things came to a head in 1966. According to an article in the Delmarva News of July 21, 1966, camping on public beaches had been banned since the storm, but enforcement was lax or non-existent. In the summer of 1966, the state began enforcing the camping ban. Finally a compromise was reached.

Camping at Indian River Inlet reappeared in July 1966. On July 28 of this year, the Delmarva News reported that the campground was packed with crowds on its first weekend of legal camping on a state-owned beachfront property in nearly four years. “The opening of the admission area followed a dispute between campers, the Highway Authority and the governor. The highway authorities expelled the campers from the beaches a few weeks ago. The campers, led by a housewife, revolted and took their case to the governor. The governor, in turn, removed the beaches from the Highway Department’s jurisdiction and ordered the Parks Commission to open the beaches for camping.” The article states that the Parks Commission has restricted camping to Cape Henlopen State Park and the lots immediately adjacent to the Indian River Inlet .

Charles L. Terry Jr. was the governor during this time. The July 21 Delmarva News article identified the housewife as Holly Oak’s Reese Cummings.