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Seaford

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Largest incorporated town in Sussex County and the fifth-largest in Delaware, this community on the Nanticoke River once shipped fruit, oysters, and shad. Early photographs show the riverbanks lined with frame oyster houses (where shelling took place), boat yards, and canneries (for tomatoes, peas, and other vegetables), and streets crowded with wagons as farmers hauled in strawberries, watermelons, and other produce for shipment by refrigerated railroad cars. Several large homes and commercial buildings survive today to suggest Seaford's turn-of-the-twentieth-century agricultural prosperity. The town was abruptly modernized by the coming of the DuPont factory during the Great Depression (WS17), creating “Nylon City.” About the same size as neighboring Laurel in 1930, Seaford now rocketed ahead of it. DuPont built some standardized worker housing and supported education. A Ralph Nader exposé published in 1971 of DuPont, The Company State (Center for the Study of Responsive Law, Washington, D.C.), uses Seaford as an example of capitalism's discontents, though more recently a geography student, Carmen Ann McWilliams, revisited the town and refuted most of Nader's findings (in a M.A. thesis in 1998). In 2004, DuPont sold its plant to Koch Industries, ending an era. The Old Post Office (1935) at 105 New Street was bought and restored as a museum by Seaford Historical Society starting in 2001.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard

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