Best Historical Sites in the Mid-Atlantic States Part 3 In Delaware vs Maryland vs Pennsylvania

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria

Key moments in United States history happened in the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, all the way from colonial times to World War II. Washington and his Continentals spent a harrowing winter at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, 22,000 Americans lost their lives in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War in Maryland, and one of only 17 lightships in the nation is on display in Delaware. Here we cover the best historical locations in the three mid-Atlantic states.

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Method 1: In Delaware

Delaware was first established by Swedish immigrants in the 1600's and was to play an important role in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, as well. Colonial homes and village greens are to be found here, as well as replica sailing ships and one of the only 17 remaining lightships in the country. Here are some of the important historical sites in that state.

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  1. 1
    Historic New Castle
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    With its cobblestone streets and riverside charm, Historic New Castle takes you back to the early days of the American Colonies when men strolled the streets in tricorne hats and ladies in wide skirts and powdered hair fanned themselves on tall balconies overlooking it all. It is from here that you can hop on the Delaware History Trail that will take you to the stately colonial houses, including the Amstel House, which was constructed in 1730, restored to their glory and furnished as they were in colonial times.
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  2. 2
    The Green, Dover
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    The Green is one of the three public squares in Dover, as imagined by William Penn when he established the town in 1783. Surrounded by neighborhood businesses, homes, and taverns, it was where public gatherings took place, from markets to troop formation exercises. Its most important historical moment, however, occurred on December 7, 1787, when 30 delegates from the Constitutional Convention met at the Golden Fleece Tavern to ratify the United States Constitution, giving Delaware the distinction of becoming the first state.
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  3. 3
    The Kalmar Nyckel, Baltimore
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    The Kalmar Nyckel carried the first Swedish settlers to Maryland in 1638. A re-creation of the historical vessel is docked in Baltimore where you can board her and tour her decks, and even take a sail.
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  4. 4
    Historic Odessa
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    Delaware's shipping heritage is preserved in historic Odessa. From its stately 18th century homes such as the Corbit-Sharp House and the Wilson-Warner House to Cantwell's Tavern constructed in 1822 and the Odessa Bank, built in 1853, you can lose yourself in period architecture and furnishings from America's beginnings.
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  5. 5
    First State Heritage Park, Dover
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    Established by William Penn in 1683, Dover used to be the provincial seat until New Castle was developed during the 1770's. As such, you can see many old buildings dating back to colonial times, including the old state house, among others.
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  6. 6
    Mason-Dixon Marker, Delmar
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    Sitting on the Maryland-Delaware border, the southernmost section marks the Mason-Dixon line, which separated the southern states from the northern states in the run-up and during the Civil War.
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  7. 7
    John Dickinson Plantation, Dover
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    Founding father John Dickinson grew up in this stately plantation home, where he continued to spend time, traveling between it and his residence in Philadelphia. The house and plantation are open to the public, and re-enactments of historical events are held here as well as tours, and other educational programs.
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  8. 8
    Fort Miles, Cape Henlopen State Park
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    Built just after the Pearl Harbor attack, this WWII-era military fort was built to keep an eye for enemy ships off the Delaware coast. Over 2,000 military personnel staffed this facility at one time, and although it never saw any action, the military frequently used the fort for training and team building exercises until its closure as a military holding in 1991.
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  9. 9
    Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island
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    Fort Delaware is a Civil War era fort, built in 1859. It is located on an island in the Delaware River, and its purpose was to defend the harbor against attacks. It was also used to house prisoners of war. Historical interpreters bring the history of the fort to life as it was during the summer of 1864, which you can get to via a ferry from the mainland.
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  10. 10
    Lightship Overfalls, Lewes
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    The Lightship Overfalls is only one of 17 of its kind remaining in the country out of a fleet of 179 such ships built, and just one of seven that remain open to the public. A lightship is essentially a floating lighthouse, dispatched to locations where the terrain made building a lighthouse impractical. Lightships aided navigation through treacherous waters and also sounded a horn in thick fog.
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Method 2: In Maryland

The state of Maryland is the place where the Star Spangled Banner was conceived and where the bloodiest battle in the very bloody Civil War occurred. See important battlefields and old colonial towns where the buildings and streets have been preserved for posterity in one of the original 13 American colonies.

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  1. 1
    Fort McHenry, Baltimore
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    Fort McHenry is an important location for both the War of 1812 against the British and the Civil War. It was here where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner, the song that would become the American national anthem. During the Civil War, the fort served as an important Union hospital for troops injured during that war.
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  2. 2
    Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg
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    The Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862, is commemorated on this historic spot. On that day, General Lee's Confederates clashed with General McClellan's Union forces in the single bloodiest battle fought during the entire Civil War. 22,000 men lost their lives that day.
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  3. 3
    Assateague State Park, Assateague Island
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    Assateague Island is a barrier Island on Maryland's Atlantic coast and is best known for the wild horses that feed on the sea grass that grows over its sandy expanses. Fishing is popular on the protected side of the island facing the mainland, as well as kayaking.
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  4. 4
    Saint Mary's City
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    Founded in 1634, St. Mary's City was the first capital of Maryland. The entire town is a living historical exhibit, including the old state house, a plantation that dates back to the founding of the city as well as the Dove, the sailing ship on which the first colonists arrived.
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  5. 5
    B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore
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    Considered the birthplace of the railroads, this museum pays homage to the great rail companies that were the first true powerbrokers in America. See exhibits of old steam locomotives and the old-style roundhouse where trains were switched back in the day. One of the highlights of this museum is that you can take a ride on a genuine steam-powered train.
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  6. 6
    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
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    Like the Casselman Bridge, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canals were instrumental in Maryland's transportation history. This canal, with its many locks and aqueducts, facilitated ferrying coal to Georgetown along the Potomac River.
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  7. 7
    Jerusalem Mill Historic Village
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    One of the oldest mill villages in the country, Jerusalem Mill Historic Village is a living history museum that showcases life from the village's founding in 1687 through the 20th century. The centerpiece is the fourth mill, which was constructed in 1772.
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  8. 8
    United States Naval Academy, Annapolis
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    The United States Naval Academy has been grooming recruits for successful Navy careers since 1845. It is a United States Registered Landmark and is open for guided tours through the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center. Appropriate photo ID is required for admittance.
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  9. 9
    USS Constellation, Baltimore
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    The USS Constellation is a three-masted sailing vessel that is the last vessel of its kind built by the US Navy. She was built in 1854 and saw action in Africa as the flagship of the naval forces there. She was in service until 1954 and is now a floating museum, which you can tour to admire the workmanship that went into her and the legacy she leaves behind.
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  10. 10
    Casselman Bridge, Garret County
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    Casselman Bridge was built in 1813, and at the time was the longest stone arch bridge in the country, with a span of 80 feet. Although it no longer accepts vehicular traffic, it is open to pedestrians and serves as an important piece of history of transportation in Maryland.
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Method 3: In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania was named after its founder, William Penn, whose forward thinking ideas regarding freedom and democracy shaped the American experience. In this state, you will find the Liberty Bell, the location where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and where George Washington and his troops suffered through a long winter that nearly broke the spirit of the rebellion.

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  1. 1
    Carrie Furnace, Rankin
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    From 1884 to 1982, the Carrie blast furnaces were part of the great backbone of the steel industry in the United States. Providing jobs for the surrounding communities and driving economic growth, they sustained the local economy for many years. When the steel industry collapsed in the 1980's, these same communities were devastated, and have yet to recover. The Carrie furnaces are the only remaining intact blast furnaces in the United States.
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  2. 2
    Independence National Park, Philadelphia
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    Independence National Park is the home of the iconic Liberty Bell as well as the spot where the Declaration of Independence was signed. You can even see the chair George Washington sat in when he signed it. Other historical structures on display here include the old City Hall, Congress Hall, and Carpenter's Hall.
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  3. 3
    Boathouse Row, Philadelphia
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    Boathouse Row is iconic for the sport of rowing, and of the East Coast world of old money in general. Built during the 19th century, the homes that line the Schuylkill River reflect the style of the time during which they were constructed and now house a recreation center and private boating clubs.
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  4. 4
    Hershey Park, Hershey
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    The Hershey Company has a long tradition in Pennsylvania, and that's reflected in the town that bears the name of its founders. The company built Hershey Park in 1906 as a place for its workers and their families to have a good time, and today it is open for the public to enjoy. It has roller coasters and other rides that kids and people of all ages will love.
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  5. 5
    Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia
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    This narrow street remains paved with cobblestones, as it did when it originated back in 1702. The narrow row houses on either side were built between 1728 and 1836, and it retains much of its colonial charm. Visit the Elfreth's Alley Museum to learn the history of this street, which has been dubbed "Our nation's oldest residential street."
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  6. 6
    Eastern State Penitentiary
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    This old prison was built in 1829 and was in operation until 1971. It was where Al Capone and Willie Sutton were imprisoned, and Al Capone even furnished his cell with rugs and furniture. Eastern State Penitentiary was also radical in its day for its methods of "reforming" prisoners through solitary confinement, and a prison design that has been duplicated around the world. Visit the prison from September to November to take part in its annual "Terror Behind the Walls" tours to enjoy spooky nighttime tours of the prison.
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  7. 7
    Strasburg
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    Strasburg is located in the heart of Amish country. Here, you can take a ride in an authentic Amish buggy as well as hop aboard the Strasburg Railroad for a historical tour of the Amish countryside. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is also here where you can take a peek into the history of steam locomotives and the railroads that shaped much of America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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  8. 8
    The Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata
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    Seeking a place to practice his particular brand of Christianity, the charismatic German leader of this religious offshoot, Johann Conrad Beissel, established the Ephrata Cloister in 1732. The last living member of this order, Marie Kachel Bucher, passed away in 2008. She was 98 years old.
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  9. 9
    Valley Forge National Historical Park
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    This historical park commemorated the long winter of 1777 and 1778 when the American forces were devastated by hunger and disease after the British successfully destroyed their supplies. Some 2,000 men perished that winter. Learn about the details through exhibits and tours and walk the ground where these brave men gave everything to the cause of freedom.
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  10. 10
    Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia
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    Located at the center of the spot Philadelphia founder, William Penn envisioned for this "City of Brotherly Love," construction of the City Hall building began in 1871 and was completed in 1901. Its ornate style is typical of buildings from the Victorian era and was influenced by the Palais des Tuileries and the New Louvre in Paris. The Philadelphia City Hall remains the largest city governmental office in the United States, larger even that the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
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Categories : Travel & Leisure

Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw

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