White Gold on the Delaware Bay — Documentary Examines History of Oystering in Delaware

A new Delaware video, “White” Gold, shares the story of oystering in the First State.  In the 65-minute production, the documentarian takes a careful look at how maritime communities such as Leipsic, Little Creek, and Bowers Beach prospered on the abundant harvests of Delaware Bay oysters, commonly called white gold.  “Stately wooden schooners piled Delaware Bay, dredging as many as 900,000 bushels annually” at one time, but today the harvest is limited to less than 15,000 bushels.

Looking at the past and the present, “White Gold” shares interviews with local captains, residents of the communities, and scholars about the changes that have occurred and how the bay-shore communities and the commercial waterman who built them have endured.  Dr James Valle, Delaware State University (retired) commented that he was always interest in maritime history and when he arrived in Kent County it didn’t seem like there was anything here.  But as he started to investigate he discovered that there had once been a very large fleet of oyster boats working out of the coastal villages.  Little by little as he dug into the past at the Delaware Archives and other place the story slowly unfolded and he found that those villages had prospered because of this connection.   Throughout the product, Michael Oates, the digital storyteller, includes the account of one couples attempt to keep some of the history alive by restoring the oyster schooner Maggie Myers.

This document was produced by “302 Stories,” a digital storyteller sharing the story of Delaware’s people and places. It was partially underwritten through a grant provided by the Delaware Humanities Forum.

It is an informative documentaru so check it out sometime when you are visiting the library.  We learned about this thanks to the always helpful staff at the Corbitt Calloway Library in Odessa.

Chart of the Delaware Bay and River, 1866 by Fielding Lucas:  Source:  www.oldmapsonline.org, the David Rumsey Collection

Chart of the Delaware Bay and River, 1866 by Fielding Lucas: Source: http://www.oldmapsonline.org, the David Rumsey Collection


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