Day 21 Wilmington, DE to Havre de Grace, MD 53 miles 1,855 feet
Downtown Wilmington is awash with office complexes and courthouses. Due to it’s business friendly financial laws and strong corporate anti—takeover laws, Wilmington is home in practice, or in some cases just on paper, to financial institutions, such as credit card issuers, as well as many publicly traded corporations. I believe that one of Wilmington’s principle products are lawyers and lawsuits. Unlike Philadelphia, the city and surrounding areas where quite pleasant to cycle through. We exited the city via a waterfront promenade that led us onto the Jack A. Markell Trail, known locally as the JAM, a 5.5 mile trail connecting the Wilmington waterfront with the City of New Castle. About 3,300 feet of the trail is comprised of an elevated boardwalk that crosses over a 212 acre freshwater tidal marsh brimming with wildlife.
A 2.4 mile extension, including a short on-road section leads you into Historic New Castle. Originally settled by the Dutch West India Company in 1651, it was seized by the English in 1664. During several wars the flag changed hands until it finally rested with the British. In 1680, the Duke of York conveyed it to William Penn and it was Penn’s landing place when he first set foot on American soil in 1682. The surviving architecture is spectacular and well worth the mile or so detour the ECG makes to visit it.
About 20 miles farther down the ECG we entered Maryland, which was heralded by a brief but powerful rainstorm. The rain was just abating as I rode through Elkton, a small but colorful town with many quaint shops. At one time the town was considered the Greta Green of the east because of its lax marriage requirements which led many eloping couples to marry in Elkton.
I headed inland along US 40W, a rather busy 4 lane interstate, for about 6 miles, and made a few challenging left turns off of, and then back onto the interstate. It appears that the purpose of those challenging turns was to route us along the waterfront to visit Charlestown, a fairly nondescript town fronting on the North East River. The town’s website listed little of interest except that it served as a major supply depot for the Continental Army. I did notice a sign commemorating Captain Michael Rudulp, who by the sound of it, was an early Navy Seal.
There was a very heated discussion over dinner last night about our ability to ride our bikes across the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge. The bridge, over the Susquehanna River is over 1 1/4 miles in length, with no shoulder or bike lane. One of our Segment 1 riders, who lives in Wilmington, said that the bridge was just recently reopened to cyclists. Everyone pulled out their cellphones and had Siri try to ascertain whether or not we could ride across. Multiple websites gave conflicting information, but the Maryland Department of Transportation website seemed to indicate that we could ride across, as long as we arrived before 3PM. We were thrilled until anther search indicated that the bridge was closed on the date we wanted to cross due to a marathon. That didn’t make sense on a weekday, and on closer inspection, that marathon took place on September 28, 2019. Most of us planned to ride the bridge and the van was available for a shuttle if we got there to late, it rained, or we just weren’t up to it. As with all best laid plans, there was a fly in the ointment. About 10 miles before the bridge I noticed a large overhead sign announcing that 1 lane of the 2 inbound lanes was closed for construction. I assumed they would not allow bikes to ride on the only lane of a bridge, clogging up traffic behind them. I called our guide who drove the van up ahead to investigate. The final report on the scene was that bikes definitely could not ride across the bridge. Begrudgingly, we mounted our bikes to the top of the van and grabbed a lift across the river to Havre de Grace.
Havre de Grace was a storied town during the Revolutionary War, visited by both General Lafayette and George Washington. In 1789, it lost by only a single vote from being named the Capital of the United Sates. In the 19’th century it served as a primary town on the Eastern route of the Underground Railroad. In the 20’th century it served as a route favored by gamblers and gangsters heading north to NYC, including one Al Capone.
Nine states down, 6 more to go.
Miles 1,137 Feet Climbed 44,822
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland
For more details on my route, see my Strava link