Another Delaware Bay Beach at Kitts Hummock
Kitts Hummock Beach, Delaware
Every time I drive past the Dover Air Force Base along Delaware Route 1S, I smile when I see the exit sign for Kitts Hummock. Why? It always brings up images in my mind of my cats snoozing away on a summer day, all comfortably stretched out in a gently swaying green hammock.
What exactly is a hammock, errr, I mean, "hummock"? A hummock is a small hill or area that is on higher ground than the rest of the surrounding landscape. According to the Delaware Public Archives, which operates a Historical Marker Program throughout the state, Kitts Hummock has an interesting history, based upon its land formation: "Like the Native Americans before them, European settlers used this rising ground or “hummock” on the shore of the Delaware Bay as a place for fishing and recreation. In 1738, Jehu Curtis received a patent for lands that he called “Kitt’s Hammock” (sic). By the early 1800s, the Pleasanton family had established a tavern here for the entertainment of visitors. Around 1846, a hotel was built nearby. Known for a time as the Bay View Hotel, it was long the center of local activities. In the latter decades of the 19th century, a number of small cottages were erected here. Many were owned by residents of Dover who left the sweltering heat of summer behind for the cooling effects of the waters and bay breezes. Kitts Hummock continues to provide a peaceful refuge for residents and visitors alike."
Kitts Hummock is also an official sanctuary for horseshoe crabs, Delaware's state marine animal. Each May and June, thousands of horseshoe crabs spawn on the beaches of the Delaware Bay, attracting tourists to see the huge numbers of crabs coming ashore, and to see the migrating birds stopping along the shore to eat many of the crabs' eggs. Delaware provides colorful, informative placards at these beach spawning sites describing the horseshoe crabs and their contribution to medicine. I'll write about the horseshoe crabs in more detail on another upcoming post. In the meantime, you may want to follow this link http://www.ecodelaware.com/place.php?id=355 for more information from the State of Delaware.
Kitts Hummock Beach is a very wide, sandy beach, flanked by evergreen trees, shrubs, dune grasses, and low-growing cacti. The very calm bay waters here appear good for swimming, but upon closer inspection, you will discover that the few feet of visible water actually flows on top of vast mud flats, making even walking in the water difficult, and in places, dangerous. The mud layers are so deep that you could easily sink in a few feet. The mud flats become most evident at low tide, when only a few inches of water appear to be flowing across the muddy bay. Kitts Hummock Beach is a beautiful place to beachcomb and walk, but not so much for wading or swimming. Even kayaking, canoeing, or rafting could pose difficulties if you were suddenly tipped over and had to find a solid footing to stand on. The best part about Kitts Hummock Beach is that the beach area is quiet and clean, and with all the vegetation growing nearby, a walk on this Delaware Bay beach has the effect of feeling like you are walking along your own tropical island.
So, no cats swinging merrily in the breeze in a comfortable hammock, but a lot of historical significance and environmental beauty for the people in the area and the tourists visiting Kitts Hummock Beach, Delaware.