Snaking through the middle of downtown Dover, past Legislative Hall, sneaking around the Air Force Base, and ending its journey at Bowers Beach is none other than the St. Jones River. In years past, our rivers were thought to be our life line. They were our source of food, transportation, income, entertainment, and sense of beauty. As you journey on the St. Jones River you notice the life that once was, the life that now is, and the life soon to be. As one of the main transportation routes from Dover to Wilmington and Philadelphia, the St. Jones served as a thoroughfare for the farming community. Large ships would transport produce and canned goods from the areas around Dover and ship them into the larger Ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. These ships used to carry the goods originated from the ship yards of Lebanon Landing, Delaware. It is now difficult to imagine that large ships ever traversed this river but photographs show us different. To make the trip easier for the ships to maneuver, the River was straightened by dredging until the mid to late 1930’s. Numerous meanders or bends were cut through to straighten this mighty river. These bends helped slow the flow of water and defined the River. As the St. Jones path was altered by dredging, brackish water (combination of fresh and salt water) moved further upstream changing the plant and animal communities from a more freshwater system to a brackish water system.
The landscape and lifestyles have certainly changed since the pre-colonial times. Now, we see more people and more buildings along the St. Jones River. We see less commercial fisherman, less recreation on the River, and no shipping industry. However, the River never disappoints in providing great bird sightings such as the vibrant great blue herons, petite marsh wrens, energetic kingfishers, the mighty osprey, and the majestic bald eagles. The beauty of the St. Jones River still exists in its stunning marsh lands, rich history, and swift current. If only the River could talk…oh the tale it would tell. To find out more about the St. Jones River, join us on a boat trip to experience its story.
Looking for something fun to do this week? Join a scientist on Thursday, August 11 from 9am – 11 am in the St. Jones Reserve Laboratory (818 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Delaware) to learn more about water quality in our waterways. Be ready to investigate the quality of water by using test kits. This is a great and fun way to how chemistry relates to biology! The program is designed for ages 13 and older. Call the Reserve at (302)739-3436 to register. This free actvity is offered as part of the Reserve’s public programming. For more information about other programs the Reserve offers visit our Calendar of Events page.