Mrs. Patricia Solin and I collaborated on “Summering In Riverton” which appeared in the November GN. Shortly afterward, my friend Paul Schopp sent us a wonderful commentary which gives added context to several of our remarks and makes a couple of corrections.
Okay, here are my comments on the “Summering in Riverton” article:
I do not believe the steamboat landing predated the town. No wharf appears on any pre-1851 maps. In addition, the founders and early residents had no regard for the railroad at all. The steamboat was the preferred method of travel. This is why the Camden & Amboy Railroad did not build a station at Riverton until the 1860s.
Regarding the Riverton Journal, I recall that the editors and publishers were a couple of teenage boys, hence the “frankness” and prose.
Riverton, NJ map 1859
Attached is an 1859 map of Riverton; you will see the “Riverton House” next to C.P. Miller or Main Street. I believe this is the same as the Cinnaminson House that Charles Hall operated.
The 1877 map attached indicates that Pancoast had already built his house at 404 Main, but the lot where 402 would be built is still vacant.
Riverton, NJ map 1877
As I indicated to you at the Memorial, the Kern’s Tourist Home was out along Route 25 (Route 130) and served the traveling public moving to and from New York City and should not really be included in your article.
In 1860, Pancoast was a farmer, but following the Civil War, I think he moved into Riverton and constructed 404 Main. He listed himself as “Palmyra, NJ” because the Riverton post office did not open until 1871 and he probably built 404 either in 1868 or 1869.
In 1890, the Pennsylvania Railroad published a guide to Suburban Homes within a radius of 30 miles around Philadelphia. This what it contains for Riverton:
“One of the most charming spots on the river is this favorite, conservative little town. Its population consists of seven-hundred, who are mainly property-owners, and the exceptional summer-boarding opportunities as presented here are usually captured a long time in advance. By a town ordinance no buildings are allowed on the river front, and now, extending for a good mile in length, and running from the river wall to the artistic houses set back a goodly distance, is a green, velvet-like lawn, without fence or party-line, a perfect landscape garden, which has become one of the distinctive features pointed out to the boat travelers steaming by. It is a haven for yachtsmen, canoeists, lovers of the rod, cricketers, ball and tennis players, and its sandy beach is well dotted in the warm summer afternoons with numbers of bathers. Its shaded walks and drives bestow enticing coolness, even on the warmest day, and almost every evening some means of private entertainment or dance is improvised in the little theatre for the pleasure of the summer guest. From a sanitary standpoint it is very healthful, and the theory of malaria existing about these river-front resorts has long been exploded—as no better proof is needed than the return, season after season, of the same people, or by the length of years enjoyed by the permanent New Jersey inhabitants. There are several churches (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Catholic) in the village. Telegraphic, express, and mail service.
“Lawn House.”—Miss E.S. Bell. Three squares from station. Accommodates seventy-five guests. Open May 31st to October 15th. Rates, $10 to $25 per week. Large mansion; situated on the river bank; unobstructed view of river scenery. Good boating, bathing, and fishing.
“Private Mansion.” Miss Sallie Sickel. Few minutes’ walk from station. Accommodates thirty guests. Open all the year. Rates, $10 to 15 per week. Large porch and lawn.
“Home Mansion.” Mrs. E.H. Pancoast. One square from station. Accommodates ten guests. Open June to October. Rates, $8 to $15 per week.”
I hope you find these comments helpful.
Our thanks to Paul Schopp for his comprehensive fact-checking of our article. – JMc