Land Revitalization Summer '05 Newsletter – Underground Railroad Museum Possible At Old Landfill Site
The history of the Underground Railroad could come alive at the old Wildcat Landfill, a Superfund site in Lebanon, De., just south of Dover.
The land's new owners plan to develop a county park, greenway and museum, which will highlight the history of the former freed slave community once located there.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recently purchased the $488,943 property, using funding from Delaware's Open Space Program and Kent County. The landfill and surrounding property, 172 acres in all, were once owned by abolitionist John Hunn and have remained in the Hunn family for the last 200 years.
A small settlement of black tenants, originally freed slaves, once lived on the property in what was known as Hunn Town. Its residents fished off old piers and worked on the farms and boats around Lebanon.
Hunn Town was known to be a stop along the Underground Railroad. Delaware State University, an historically black college, has been asked to preserve the settlement's artifacts and develop the museum in the property's historic home.
Current plans are for the greenway to cut across the former 46-acre landfill portion of the property, where municipal and industrial waste had been disposed of for many years. The landfill was the subject of a $7.5 million Superfund cleanup, performed by a group of responsible parties from 1992 through 1999.
The cleanup consisted of capping the landfill and draining, cleaning and backfilling a contaminated pond on site. A replacement pond was constructed on an uncontaminated portion of the property. Park plans call for non-engine boating to take place on the pond.
EPA and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will continue to work with Kent County to monitor the landfill cap and replacement pond, to ensure that they continue to protect public health and the environment.
No development will take place on the site until, at the earliest July, when the home's current owner and resident Shirley Hunn relocates. Hunn has lived in the home for the last 59 years.
Return to Summer 2005 Newsletter