Greetings, and welcome to the Historical Society of Riverton's website for our town, founded in 1851, by a group of ten Philadelphians for summer homes for their families. Displayed within its scant square mile area of Victorian-flavored neighborhoods and gaslamp-lined streets are more than 150 years of American architectural styles. More than half of Riverton's buildings are included in the State and National Directories of Historic Places.

Here is the venerable Porch Club, birthplace of the PTA; Riverton Yacht Club, one of the oldest and still active yacht clubs in the country; the beloved Riverton Public School which just turned one hundred; treasured churches and other institutions, as well as businesses and a hometown to almost 3,000 proud Rivertonians.

Our masthead banner, derived from a delightful folk art painting by Riverton author and artist, Anne Knight Ruff, evokes the charm and vitality of our richly historic borough and serves as your invitation to explore it further with us.

Carlos Rogers made Riverton history again June 8, 2014

criterium jerseysHistory records the names and deeds of Riverton’s founders along with achievements of many citizens who have contributed to the Borough’s development. Know that these movers and shakers, these difference makers, who influence, inspire, energize, and improve us are not just mentioned in dusty old archives but that each age has its champions who leave a lasting legacy. Carlos Rogers, originator of the Historic Riverton Criterium, is a Riverton champion of the age in which we live.

The Historic Riverton Criterium, now in its fourth year, really is historic in that it is important, significant, consequential, and memorable. Riverton resident and race promoter Carlos Rogers has created an event, according to the HRC Facebook page, with a threefold mission, namely:

To promote the sport of bicycle racing, increase the visibility of Riverton as a historic residential and business community, and provide charitable contributions from proceeds of the race to local organizations.

He has succeeded famously on all three counts.

Participants and spectators alike now have many memories of how Carlos Roger’s dream to bring the excitement of a competitive cycling event to Riverton has come to herald the beginning of Riverton’s summer season. As the contest has grown in popularity, it has gained prestige among the racing community; success begets success.

For a compelling description of the phenomenon that has become the Historic Riverton Criterium from an athlete’s perspective (read that as, not from a geriatric newsletter editor’s view), see cyclist Mark Featherman’s personal account in The Featherman Chronicles. (He relates a bit of Carlos’ back story and includes a streaming ten-minute video shot from his bike during the race that takes you along for the ride.)

Dave Casale, another athlete who knows the deal with the HRC, describes his experience in the 2014 race in his blog:

The Historic Riverton Criterium is a top notch local race. It takes place on beautiful tree lined streets in South Jersey’s Riverton, passing the local police department, library, middle school, a church, and the promoter’s own house, all in a quick 1:36 lap. It’s local while it still has the feel of a much bigger race; it’s homey enough that you don’t mind setting up your beach chair on one of the neighbor’s front lawns, but you’ll likely target it as a priority race during the season. The prize money is very good, the competition can be fierce, yet all the kids running around the neighborhood still manages to keep the event feeling stress free, at least until you clip in.

For evidence that visibility of Riverton has increased as a result of the HRC, one need only to pick up a newspaper, turn on a TV, or check one’s newsfeed. Local newspapers, as well as a mention in May’s South Jersey Magazine publicized the event. (Most links to newspaper stories require a subscription to view.)

The unexpected bonus for the community has been the philanthropic aspect that has been part of each Historic Riverton Criterium since the first one launched in 2011. Various area organizations have directly benefited as a result of Carlos’ altruism including Riverton Free Library, Riverton Memorial ParkPolice Unity Bike Tour – Patrolman Jeff WalkerPalmyra Ambulance AssociationRiverton Shade Tree CommissionBoy Scouts of America Troop 9, Christ Episcopal Church (Riverton), Historical Society of Riverton, and Palmyra-Riverton Athletic Association.

So while the athletes have come here each second Sunday in June since 2011 for the chance to win recognition, rewards, and bragging rights, many thousands of dollars in contributions from race proceeds have had a big impact on the treasuries of local community groups.

Carlos’ success with this modern race caused another consequence by influencing ex-Riverton resident Rob Gusky to organize the recent Historic Riverton Century bicycle ride in 2014 to commemorate the 1895 New York Times Tri-State Relay Race from New York City to Riverton.

By definition then, Carlos Rogers and his Historic Riverton Criterium are now part of the pages of history recorded on as well as here and elsewhere. We congratulate Carlos for his leap of faith in Riverton’s ability to embrace a new tradition and thank him for his extraordinary generosity in contributing thousands of dollars of race proceeds to area causes and organizations.

We wish to see the Historic Riverton Criterium continue for years to come and hope you enjoy these glimpses of some of the good times and excitement the 2014 event generated.

Slide show photos by John McCormick. Featuring Joshua Matisoff, the Balloon Guy, Wade’s Snooo Train, appearances by The Wheelmen, and music by Package Goods
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Historic Riverton Century Riders Arrive

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

A small but spirited crowd welcomed the police escorted cyclists as they arrived about 7:29 p.m., almost two hours behind their scheduled appearance here because of flat tires and broken spokes.

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

More details in a later post, but for now, all riders’ thoughts are on a quick shower and the team dinner at The District Riverton Bistro.

The next acts of this Riverton reality series follow on Sunday with the 10 a.m. dedication of the historic marker for the Riverton Bicycle Track and then the return of the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium at 1:00 p.m.

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- Video by Chris Halt, Stills and story by John McCormick

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News from the front

HRC riders in NYC this morning

HRC riders in NYC this morning

This just in… heard from Helen Mack on the road to Nancy Hall’s phone to Susan Dechnik’s, to mine, then directly to you…

It looks like the riders will be delayed in their arrival to Riverton by an hour or more. I am going over to Riverton now to help cheer them upon their arrival around 6:30-7:00 p.m.

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Make some noise Saturday and welcome the riders

rivertons bike track signHere are the event details Rob Gusky posted on about the Historic Riverton Century bike ride, scheduled for this Saturday, and the historic marker dedication, slated for the next day.

Come out and give the riders a big Riverton welcome.

Come out and give the riders a big Riverton welcome.

Although no gold medals await the finishers of this recreational ride as did the winners of the of the 1895 New York Times Relay Race, we can give the riders a big Riverton welcome when they get to town around 5:30 p.m. after their 100+ mile ride.

A police escort will meet them and lead the them on a circuit through Borough streets on their way to the finish line behind the Riverline Station. Check out the map and come out and make some noise to welcome the athletes to Riverton after their arduous journey. - John McCormick


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Be here this weekend for two cycling events and a historic marker dedication

The Start, June 8, 1895

The Start, June 8, 1895

Rob Gusky has given frequent updates on his Facebook page about the Historic Riverton Century ride he organized. Like the original 1895 cycling event, this one originates from New York City and ends here in Riverton.

But the landscape has changed considerably between the Big Apple and our little borough in the intervening 119 years since six-man teams representing the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey competed in the New York Times Tri-State Relay Race.

Rob writes from his home in Wisconsin:

We are leaving for Riverton tomorrow morning (Thurs.) and plan to arrive in Riverton Friday afternoon, then head up to NYC by train with our bikes.  If all goes well, we will be back in Riverton after the 100 mile journey at around 5:30 pm, the Riverton Police Dept. is providing us an escort once we return to town and we will ride about 3.5 miles through town ending up at the Riverline Station.

In 1895, the New York Times reported…”there were gathered crowds of interested people at every town and hamlet through which the cyclists flew.” Teams were easily recognized by their colored sashes; New York racers wore blue, Pennsylvania men wore white, and the New Jersey team wore red.

At the Finish in 1895

At the Finish in 1895

The grandstands of the Riverton Athletic Association’s bicycle track were filled to capacity with fans, many of whom had arrived by special train. Winners received gold medals and rock star-like popularity during that Golden Age of Bicycling.

Be on hand to cheer on Rob and the two dozen or so other cyclists when they arrive at Riverton some time after 5 pm on Saturday.

RAA Bicycle Track historic marker

RAA Bicycle Track historic marker

On Sunday morning at 10:00am there will be a dedication celebration of the historical marker at the former site of the Riverton Bicycle Track near the Riverline station. Incredibly, Rob raised all the money for the sign through crowdsourcing and obtaining a grant from the NJ Historic Trust.

I have to be there to thank the man who organizes such a complex event from halfway across the country and then leaves us with the bonus of a free historic marker. Won’t you please be there, too? 

This event will take place at 10 am on Sunday June 8, 2014.  Later on Sunday at 1 pm, Carlos Rogers’ 4th Annual Historic Riverton Criterium returns to the streets of Riverton.

- John McCormick


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