Vandals desecrate Black history trail in Delaware weeks after it opened
Nearly all 14 of the informational metal signs along the trail route are now missing.
Just weeks after the Iron Hill Museum & Science Center in Newark, Delaware opened its African American history trail, it was vandalized, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, nearly all 14 of the informational metal signs along the trail route are now missing and someone ripped several of the display stands out of the ground. Only one sign remained untouched.
The trail was unveiled on Feb. 24 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s disheartening for the staff and the volunteers we have,” said Robin Broomall, president of the Delaware Academy of Science. “We worked so hard to have a good display to talk about the history of the Iron Hill region.”
Broomall, who does not think the attacks are racially motivated, said she believes that the vandal is someone with a grudge who has targeted the museum in the past. “I cannot say why we think that it is this person,” Broomall said. “But the state police are quite aware of the whole situation.”
Vandals have caused damage to the museum and trail for more than two years but not as extensively as the most recent damage. According to Broomall, the museum’s trail cameras are often taken down within days after they are installed, making it difficult to identify vandals.
Delaware state police are reportedly investigating the incident.
Staffers at the Iron Hill Museum reportedly found some of the broken signs discarded in the woods along the trail. The property was also damaged when a large wooden bench was dumped into an old iron mine pit. Additionally, a nearby trail was littered with broken glass.
According to The Inquirer, the metal signs cost about $1,000 to be printed. Repairing and reprinting them for reinstallation will cost about $8,000.
The trail was created in part through a $25,000 grant from the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. It highlights the forgotten Black community that formed in the Iron Hill area in the 1800s. A 100-year-old schoolhouse, which the chemical mogul Pierre S. du Pont built and which is known as Iron Hill School #112C, serves as a reminder of this rich history.
According to Debbie Keese, vice president of the Delaware Academy of Science, the goal of the trail is to showcase “the under-recognized history of an independent, long-standing free African American community of landowners on Iron Hill, placing it into the context of a society in which free and enslaved Blacks coexisted before the Civil War.”
Meanwhile, Broomall and her staff are in a quandary. “We’ll be able to redo the signage, but then what do you do?” she said. “Wait for them to be hit again?”
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