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.


HRCentury forecast looks sunny

Rob Gusky, 2014 HRCentury

Rob Gusky, 2014 HRCentury

Just in from organizer Rob Gusky is this sitrep on this coming weekend’s Historic Riverton Century and 3-Mile Community Ride:

FYI – everything is looking good for Saturday’s events – here are some updates

Registrations 12 – 100 mile Century riders
• 5 – 30 mile riders from Bordentown
• 64 – Community Ride participants
• 23 – Orange Blossom Dinner attendees

Saturday’s Weather Forecast (From National Weather Service):  Mostly sunny, with a high near 79

Route:    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/14208266

positive press june 2016Timetable: 8 am – riders leave from Millburn
• 2 pm – riders at Bordentown
• 4:30 pm – riders gather in parking lot near old District Restaurant (N corner) for Community Ride – Carlos Rogers to M/C
• The Community Ride ends at Memorial Park, where refreshments will be available and a short ceremony will be held commemorating the event
• 7 pm – Dinner at Orange Blossom – $15 pay at door

PS: Perfect Timing – Thank you to HSR’s Susan Dechnik for writing a cover story for Editor Regina Collinsgru’s June issue of The Positive Press.

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Annie Londonderry’s legacy

Miss Londonderry

Miss Londonderry

These webpages have recounted the exploits of the riders of the 1895 New York Times Tri-State Relay Race more than a few times. As that event unfolded in June 1895, Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, a young mother of three children, was just three months from completing her goal of bicycling around the world  – a remarkable achievement she supposedly undertook on a wager between two wealthy Boston club men.

Seemingly impossible conditions imposed on the bet was that she start penniless, not accept handouts, earn $5,000 along the way, and complete the journey in fifteen months.

annie_londonderryMrs. Kopchovsky financed her adventure with income earned through product endorsements, by displaying advertising banners on herself and on her bike, by giving riding demonstrations, selling photos and souvenirs, and by making personal appearances.

August 12, 1895, Denver Rocky Mountain News, p.3

August 12, 1895, Denver Rocky Mountain News, p.3

Not far into her trip, newspapers dubbed her Annie “Londonderry,” a sobriquet earned when she started to display a placard for the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company on her bike as a promotion.

It would be generous to say that she was given to tall-tales and embellishment in telling of her exploits. In interviews and later wrings the natural entrepreneur and master of self-promotion constantly reinvented her own back story and told sensational tales of hunting Bengal tigers with a German prince, close calls with encountering highwaymen in France, and of time spent in a Japanese prison. She may have even fabricated her claim that a wager inspired her.

Press and Horticulturist, June 8, 1895, p.1

Press and Horticulturist, June 8, 1895, p.1

Periodicals of the era chronicled her adventures much as they followed the travels of Nellie Bly in her successful attempt in 1889, to break the record of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character from Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Annie completed her circumnavigation in just under fifteen months.

But unlike the her globe-trotting counterpart Nellie Bly, the exploits of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, which advanced women’s bicycling in the United States and made her one of the most celebrated women the 1890s, were largely forgotten until author Peter Zheutlin penned Around the World on Two Wheels in 2007.

Since then, Londonderry’s remarkable story has been the subject of dozens of blogs, magazine articles, a 2011 musical play by Evalyn Parry called SPIN, and a 2013 documentary film produced by Gillian Klempner Willman titled The New Woman – Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky

In 2006, filmmaker Gillian Klempner Willman sought to recreate the leg of Annie’s 1894 trip from New York City to Boston with the help of Gary Sanderson, antique bicycle enthusiast and current editor American Bicyclist Magazine, and others.

Ms. Willman’s described Mr. Sanderson’s contribution in her April 15, 2006 blog entry.

Gary Sanderson, image credit: spokeswomanproductions.com

Gary Sanderson, image credit: spokeswomanproductions.com

The Society is most fortunate to have Gary Sanderson appear with his c.1895 Indian Racer at the Historic Riverton Century and 3-Mile Community Ride Ceremony on June 11.

Rob Gusky, originator of the June 11 event reports that at least six women athletes have registered to ride at eventbrite.com.

Carlos Rogers’ Historic Riverton Criterium on June 12 features a Women’s Cat 1/2/3 event that promises a $500 purse, neutral support, beauty and haircare gift baskets for the top 3 places, and cash primes!

HRC_cowbell

When you watch those women athletes next weekend remember the debt owed to the legacy of Annie Londonderry which has helped make their participation possible.

And make some noise with those cowbells. – JMc

Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. – Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 BC – 43 BC

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News from the front

SafetyFlourish

Key bullets resulting from a conference call with Rob Gusky this morning and an email from Phyllis Rodgers about the upcoming Historic Riverton Century, 3-Mile Community Ride, and Historic Riverton Criterium follow:

  • Eventbrite regisistration as of June 1 (10 days to go for the June 11 launch)
  • full-century riders committed to ride from Millburn, NJ to Riverton – 12
  • cyclists committed to ride from Bordentown – 9
  • 6 of the riders are women
  • 3-Mile Community Ride participants – 44
  • Orange Blossom meal ticket for after the event – 21
HRCentury 2016 button

HRCentury 2016 button

HSR President Phyllis Rodgers adds these details about the two-day cycling event

  • Saturday, approx. 4PM-4:30, representatives of the Society to meet Community Riders at District parking lot; Check children for helmets and waivers; Give out buttons to children
  • Speakers at the brief ceremony  at Memorial Park on Saturday include Mayor Cairns, Paul Schopp, Gary Sanderson with his c.1895 bike, and originator Rob Gusky
  • Dinner at Orange Blossom 7PM
  • Marshals for Sunday’s big Criterium advised to bring an umbrella or sunscreen, and a chair
  • Still need some more volunteer marshals – contact Iris Gaughan at iggaughan@gmail.com or 856-829-8671
  • Support of the Criterium at gofundme
  • HSR members will sell HSR merch at a table outside the Library

– JMc

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Summer is almost here, campers

Camp Lenape 1957

Camp Lenape 1957

If June is here, summer camp can’t be far behind.

Today there are computer camps, karate camps, space camps, basketball camps, art camps, and many more, but the place for legions of boys around here during the 1950s was Medford Township’s Camp Lenape.

My friend and frequent collaborator, Harlan Radford, Jr., is preparing an article on Camp Lenape, a 400 acre Boy Scout camp that developers bought in 1987 and turned into building lots for luxury homes.

Ye Olde Swimming Hole, Camp Lenape, Medford, NJ c.1954

Ye Olde Swimming Hole, Camp Lenape, Medford, NJ c.1954

If you know where he might find a map or diagram showing the layout and names of campsites within, please advise.

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Community Ride not Riverton’s first cavalcade of cycles

News of Interest... Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 1894, Page 3

News of Interest… Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 1894, Page 3

The 3-Mile Community Ride planned to welcome the Historic Riverton Century Riders on June 11 is not the first bicycle procession around the streets of Riverton.

Cycling at Riverton, Philadelphia Inquirer,  September 17, 1894, Page 3

Cycling at Riverton, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 17, 1894, Page 3

In September 1894, in conjunction with an upcoming bicycle race on Riverton’s race track, the Ladies Floral Tournament Club of Riverton orchestrated a complex parade of some twenty-five carriages through the main roads of Riverton.

The wheelmen of the Riverton Athletic Association on their decorated bicycles traveled in opposite directions.

Participants were awarded prizes for the best decorated carriages and bicycles.

It ended with refreshments at the clubhouse of the Riverton Athletic Association.

Another article publicized the innovation of bicycle races by a dozen electric arc lights for the September 25th meet.

Imagine the spectacle of a day given over to the sport of bicycling attended by almost 4,000 fans.

Bicycle race by electric light, September 26, 1894, Trenton Evening Times New Jersey, Page 7

Bicycle race by electric light, September 26, 1894, Trenton Evening Times New Jersey, Page 7

You don’t have to imagine because soon Riverton will devote two days to cycling events – the Historic Riverton Century and Community Ride on Saturday, June 11, and the Historic Riverton Criterium the next day on Sunday, June 12.

There is still time to register for the Community Ride and dinner as well as support the Criterium at gofundme, with the Society being the main beneficiary.

Contact Iris Gaughan at iggaughan@gmail.com or 856-829-8671 if you are able to serve as a race marshal or help sell merchandise. – JMc

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