The Cape May/Lewis Ferry service started in 1964 with several ships brought north from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay when the Bay Bridge Tunnel rendered them redundant. Today's fleet of three ships hails from the mid to late 70s and early 80s. While a little tired looking from their day in and day use, they are still a pleasant way to avoid using I-95 to visit the Delmarva and points South.
Lewes' Harbor is on the List of Historic Places as the "National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District.
An 1822 study authorized by the United States Congress investigated the possibility of a haven at Cape Henlopen. Led by General Simon Bernard, Major Joseph Gilbert Totten and Commodore William Bainbridge, the committee recommended that a permanent harbor be created.
In 1826, William Strickland began to design the breakwater, which would be the first of its kind in the Western hemisphere and the third in the world, after one in Cherbourg, France, and the Plymouth Breakwater at Plymouth, England. Work began in 1828 on what is now the inner breakwater, listed in its own right on the National Register as the Delaware Breakwater. These works consisted of a 2,100-foot (640 m) main breakwater and a 1,700-foot (520 m) icebreaker pier. Both were built of granite rubble from New Castle County, Delaware, with earlier portions using smaller stones from the Hudson Palisades. The breakwaters are 160 feet (49 m) wide at the base and 20 feet (6.1 m) at the top. The project used 835,000 tons of stone Strickland also designed a lighthouse for the harbor, which was completed the next year.
The harbor was a success, but it soon became apparent that it was too small. During storms as many as 200 ships would seek refuge. Shoaling was also a problem. In 1877, a hurricane destroyed several ships in the harbor, and others that could not get into the harbor. To improve things, work began in 1883 to close the opening between the icebreaker and main breakwater, using the same stone as the original. This project rendered obsolete the Strickland lighthouse, which was replaced in 1885 by the present Delaware Breakwater East End Light. The work dragged on for 16 years, during which 70 sailors perished in the Great Blizzard of 1888.The breakwater closure was finally completed in 1898.