Trains, Boats, Planes, and Fire Engines photographed by Jos. F. Yearly

Joseph F. Yearly and grandson Joseph B. - Little Joe - with RYC on right July 20, 1940

The rare images posted of the J.T Evans Coal & Lumber Building from Joseph F. Yearly’s picture album were only a part of the exceptional photographs which chronicled milestones of the Yearly Clan through the first half of the 20th century.

A fortunate by-product of that family photographic record is that it also documents how the scenery changed over time for the people in those photos, and it helps us imagine—or possibly recall–the Riverton of long ago.

Don’t think that family photos are of no interest to anyone else. Old photos, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, ledgers, even common advertising materials, bills and receipts, postcards,newspapers, and other such ephemera items can be invaluable clues to the historian when trying to understand the characteristics of a place such as Riverton.

If you care to respond to any photo, add information, or ask a question, please leave a comment. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Rev. 12/18/2011 – You have to be pretty sharp to find factual errors in old newspaper accounts, but professional historian and part-time HSR fact checker Paul W. Schopp is just that good. After I published the above text and images, Paul wrote to say that the Yearly photos are “a great collection images” and then he very generously added a good deal of factual information about several of them which may enrich your understanding and enjoyment. He pointed out a couple of errors: hence, this minor revision. To see Paul’s comment, just mouse-click on those tiny letters at the bottom of this post where it says “Comments.” JMc

2 thoughts on “Trains, Boats, Planes, and Fire Engines photographed by Jos. F. Yearly”

  1. John:

    What a great collection of images! I can comment on several of them:

    The Sperry Rail car is a non-revenue, privately owned self-propelled car. The Sperry Rail Service Company received contracts from many railroads across the country to run on the railroad’s various routes for detecting defective rails. If you notice on the side of the unit, it says “Detector Car.” The company formed in 1928 and developed a non-destructive method of detecting flaws inside the rails that could potentially cause breakage and a derailment. The car’s interior was crammed with all types of scientific equipment. If the technicians inside the car detected a bad rail, they pressed a button and the car automatically applied yellow paint to that rail.

    Regarding the oil barge pushed up against the riverbank, I can tell you that the barge in the image lies BELOW the Riverton Yacht Club at the foot of Penn Street, despite the information contained in the newspaper account that places the barge at the foot of Fulton Street. If you look closely, the grassy area in the foreground looks the same as it does today, extending from the yacht club’s parking lot. Furthermore, if the barge sat at the foot of Fulton Street, you would see the yacht club behind it, which you cannot.

    The two photos of the yacht club dated 1920 and 1948 demonstrate quite well how far inland the yacht club moved their clubhouse once scheduled steamboat service ended.

    The steamboat (not steamship) Dolphin operated under the burgee of the Dolphin Line, which the Roebling family came to own when it purchased the Merchants’ Transportation Company in 1901 to move its products through the Delaware & Raritan Canal. The Dolphin Line not only operated the steamer Dolphin, but also the Bristol (Capt. Dave Ray, master), and the old wooden steamer Trenton, which rotted away at the bottom of the bluffs in Fieldsboro. The Dophin was a regular visitor to the pier at Island Beach Amusement Park on Burlington Island.

    What an amazing shot of a warship from the Great White Fleet days being pushed into the marine scrapyard of Northern Metals Company, once located directly across the Delaware River from Riverton. Many a World War II destroyer, destroyer escort, and other naval and transport vessels met their demise here at this facility. I am dubious of the identification provided here. There was no mainline warship named the USS Dakota and the history of the obvious USS North Dakota and the USS South Dakota belies these vessels being scrapped at Northern Metals. Whatever her identity, it is an ignoble end for a once proud warship.

  2. Paul – Thank you so much for not only for adding to the facts in the post, but for correcting errors that I would not want to introduce into Riverton’s history. These comments are valued additions to the website. – John

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