Ellendale’s Railroad Square was a major rail junction and a beehive of economic activity in Sussex County. The first section of the Junction and Breakwater Railroad from Harrington to Milford was completed in 1859. In March 1860, the Company’s Survey Team, consisting of T.F. Tilghman as chief engineer, 1 surveyor, 1 rodman, 2 chainmen and 4 axemen, worked south through forest and farmland from Milford to Georgetown. This portion of the tracks would parallel the Federalist-era “Old State Road.” Construction was delayed by the Civil War and did not begin until 1867. By 1869 the line was completed through Ellendale and Georgetown to Lewes. It was extended from there to Rehoboth in 1878. There were 14 stations and regular passenger, mail, and freight service on the 44-mile line from Harrington to Rehoboth. Through its junctions, the J. & B. was a part of the first rail network to serve all three peninsular states – Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. In the 1890s the Queen Anne’s Railroad was built from Queenstown on Chesapeake Bay through Ellendale to Milton and Lewes on Delaware Bay. Connections were made with steamboats crossing the Chesapeake to Baltimore and the Delaware to Cape May. Around this square and the rail siding to the north were a watch box, pump house, water tower, 2 stations, stores, a cannery, the Ellendale Excelsior Company, and the R. J. Clendaniel Sawmill. In 1916 the DuPont Boulevard, now US 113, was built a mile to the west. With the improvement of roadways and their increasing use, the “golden days” of the railroad were over.

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The Delaware Public Archives operates a historical markers program as part of its mandate. Markers are placed at historically significant locations and sites across the state. For more information on this program, please contact Connor Graham at (302) 744-5019 or via email at connor.graham@state.de.us.

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