By Deb Bell, Washington Whispers
It's been a long time since tiny Delaware distinguished itself as it did way back in 1787 when state fathers huddling at Dover's Golden Fleece Tavern became the first to ratify the Constitution. Now, more than two centuries later, Delaware is back as the state of firsts. And not just because Joe Biden is the first vice president from Delaware. The mid-Atlantic coastal state could finally get its first national park, a goal championed by Biden in the 1990s. And he's now in a position to make sure it happens.
Leading Delaware's charge is Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, whose bid to revive the national park effort was buoyed by support from President Bush's interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, and now has the backing of President Obama's interior chief, Ken Salazar. "If you thought Dirk Kempthorne was helpful," Carper says Salazar told him, "you've not seen nothing yet."
Delaware doesn't have what most national parks do—vast acreage. But at the suggestion of First State citizens, Interior is looking at a unique model that would connect historical and cultural landmarks in a collection of spoke and hub patterns, like a bike. "A hub with spokes leading to maybe the Golden Fleece Tavern where the Constitution was first debated and ratified in 1787," suggests Carper. "Or the spokes could lead to stops on the Underground Railroad." Legislation is required, but with the support of Biden and Salazar, says Carper, "I like our chances."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR
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