Glory Days in Riverton

The bike events of last weekend may be gone, but the memories remain.

The history and love of cycling came alive Saturday, June 10, 2017, at the start of Riverton’s Historic Weekend of Cycling.

Early morning races directed by The Cynergy Cycling Club attracted about 70 riders on 4 different routes.

Lunch at Riverton School

Lunch was a huge success thanks to Orange Blossom Cafe (adjusting to an hourly count change)…and thanks to Richard Gaughan and John Laverty for the beverage and ice run.  Riverton School could not have been more cooperative.

Bike Safety Rodeo

The Bike Safety Rodeo helped young riders learn how to be confident and safe.

Community Bike Ride

The Community Bike Ride began at Riverview Estates.

 

Paul Schopp

Riverton Town Historian, Paul Schopp gave an excellent and concise history of bicycling in Riverton. (See Paul Schopp’s remarks here.)

Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells

Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells greeted the riders and opened the program.

Nancy Hall, Bill Hall, Paul Schopp, Phyllis Rodgers

Ride Marshall, Bill Hall was applauded for his active support of the Society and lifelong participation in cycling events.  The costumed wavers along the bike route were just perfect.

Historical Society of Riverton President Phyllis Rodgers welcomed the riders.

At the marker, Richard Gaughan rides as Paul Schopp waves

And they were off, led by Helen Mack  through the streets of Riverton, waved on and greeted at the historic marker where Riverton’s nationally recognized bike track once existed.

Then down Cedar Street and cheered on. And finally returning to Riverview Estates, which was very generous and hospitable.

Iris Gaughan, Matt Morse

Thanks to the efforts of chairperson Iris Gaughan from the Historical Society of Riverton and Matt Morse from Cynergy Cycling, it was a very successful day.

Susan Dechnik, Phyllis Rodgers

Our newsie, Susan Dechnik, distributed the special June edition of Gaslight News by Patricia Smith Solin and Editor John McCormick, which brought the “biking” weekend into the historical focus it deserves. (limited copies available at Riverton Library; also available online)

Thanks also to Susan for photographing and documenting Saturday’s activities.

Undated photo, courtesy of Ed Gilmore. Riverton Athletic Assn. Bicycle track

The history of this town is rich indeed… every event highlights a rich and fascinating facet of our town… we are proud to contribute to a heritage marvel.

Sunday saw the return of the Historic Riverton Criterium for the seventh time.

 

 

Carlos Rogers

After months of planning, securing permissions from Borough Council, soliciting sponsors, and engaging volunteers and technical support, Carlos Rogers again brought the excitement of competitive cycling to Riverton.

Starting in the shade because of high temperatures in the 90s

Racing in various USA Cycling categories, riders complete 30-45 laps on a .8 mile, 6 turn, flat and fast course through the historic streets of Riverton, NJ, starting and finishing at 4th and Main Streets. (See results here.)

Newest HSR Board member Keith Fencl checks out the food truck menu

Music from Don’t Fake the Funk DJ Crew, Rob’s Craft Sandwiches and Kitchen Crewser food trucks, a merch table, plus balloon artistry from Twist It Balloons completed this cycling spectacle to kick off the summer of 2017

Josh Matisoff, balloon twister, entertainer, and decorator. He can twist anything out of balloons.

First started in 2011, the family-friendly event this year continues to draw men and women athletes, amateur and pro, in pursuit of recognition, a cash purse, and a shot at the primes, which are prizes awarded for winning specific intermediate laps during a race. A bell is rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime.

License plates seen in CVS lot

The roster of participants includes many from NY, PA, DE, and NJ, plus others from DE, RI, MO, OR, WA, CO, LA, and NH, making it a national event.

Wade McDaniels’ snow cones are a Riverton favorite. He recently retired from Riverton School. Happy retirement, Wade!

Part sporting match, part philanthropic endeavor, this new slice of Americana known as the Historic Riverton Criterium has provided over $25,000 in charitable contributions from proceeds of the race to local organizations.

Carlos Rogers waves as he starts the race

In a fitting climax, the DJ’s loudspeakers blared out Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” as Carlos himself led the Masters 45+ race in a rolling start. (19 sec. video here)

Glory Days, indeed.

Iris was EVERYWHERE those two days

Thank you, Carlos, riders, spectators, residents, sponsors, and volunteers for another successful Historic Riverton Criterium!

The commentary above is a mashup from remarks by Iris Gaughan, Phyllis Rodgers, Carlos Rogers, and Editor John McCormick

Three things you didn’t know about Riverton

This just in, from the Watertown Republican. (Watertown, Wis.) June 27, 1877.

 

I’d pay a nickel to see that chicken.

 

And this breaking news from The Morning Call, San Francisco, April 1, 1894.

$2,500 in 1894 → $68,854.40 in 2017

(according to this inflation calculator )

And finally, this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, March 8, 1889, tells of an indoor football game between the Riverton team and the University of Pennsylvania. See the entire article here.

 

 

Just a few historic examples of our “unique” town

Ready for Saturday’s Bicycle Rodeo?

This Saturday, June 10, 2017, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, Cynergy Cycling Club  will direct a free Bicycle Safety Rodeo for children ages 7-12 on the Riverton School blacktop. The clinic will teach children riding skills and precautions to take so they can ride a bicycle safely. No need to register.

At 4 pm the free Community Bike Ride (approx. 5 miles) will begin and end at Riverview Estates on the riverbank.  Refreshments and activities will take place at the end of the ride around 5:15 pm.

HSR member Roger Prichard provides the unlabeled picture of a boy from an album of original photographs in the possession of the Riverton Free Library, depicting scenes and portraits taken over several years about 1887.

407 Bank Avenue taken 2013

Roger deduces that the photo was taken at the Riverton home of Edwin H. Fitler, Jr. and his family (407 Bank Avenue). Roger writes:

The Queen Anne-style upper sash of the window is very unusual in Riverton, but was a distinctive feature of this Fitler house after Fitler commissioned its expansion and updating in 1882.  The house still has windows exactly like that today, with single-light lower sashes and uppers with small surrounding panes in a pattern of 6 panes by 6 panes…

…[he] could then be C. Cecil Fitler…

(More about the entire album and Roger’s detective work here)

Some serious cycling ahead

Palmyra Weekly News, Dec. 25, 1897, p3

During the height of the bicycle craze well over a century ago, William E. Harvey bicycled over 12,000 miles, the equivalent of riding coast-to-coast over four times, to win a state medal.

Note that the next year he completed 68 hundred-mile races called “centuries.”

That is one serious cyclist!

No less determined are the bicycling enthusiasts who will be in Riverton this weekend.

 Cynergy Cycling Club‘s organized distance rides of 15, 25, 35, 45, & 50 miles each start and end in Riverton on Saturday morning. The club will host a Bike Safety Rodeo at 1:30 on the Riverton School blacktop and a Community Ride (more info here) through the town that afternoon.

The activities Saturday are prelude to Sunday’s main event, during which hundreds of serious cyclists will descend upon Riverton’s Main Street to compete in the Historic Riverton Criterium.

Live music, food trucks, a balloon twister, and more complete this cycling spectacle to kick off the summer of 2017. – JMc

 

Annual Meeting Tuesday, May 23

Come to our Annual Meeting, next Tuesday, May 23rd at Nellie Bly’s, 529 Main Street, Riverton, at 6 PM. We invite Historical Society of Riverton members to be our guests for pizza and ice cream. No cost for members but we would like a head count so please RSVP at 856-786-8422 or partea@comcast.net   We will elect and install new officers, give out some awards, report on the 2017 year, and discuss the upcoming Historic Riverton Century Community Bicycle Ride on June 10th as well as plans for next year.  Hope to see you there.

Phyllis Rodgers
HSR President

June Bicycle Weekend Update

Altogether, three events promise to make for a bicycle trifecta falling on the second weekend in June this year.

As previewed in our post of April 22, the Historic Riverton Century and Community Ride will take place on Saturday, June 10, 2017, and culminate with the Historic Riverton Criterium, the now-classic bicycle race over residential streets on Sunday, June 11.

Rob Gusky organized the Historic Riverton Century Ride in 2014 and again in 2016. In each, riders bicycled about a hundred miles, ending up in Riverton the day before Carlos Rogers’ Historic Riverton Criterium.

Pinch hitting for Rob this year, who will stay home in Wisconsin for his daughter’s graduation, Cynergy Cycling Club instead will host several organized club morning distance rides of 15, 25, 35, 45, & 50 miles each, ending in Riverton. Cost: Cynergy Club Members $10; Non-Members $20 (includes lunch).

For complete information and registration form, visit cynergycycling.com. For day of the ride registration, meet in the National Casein parking lot at 7 am. From there, riders can exit on to Howard Street.

Later, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 Cynergy Cycling Club also will direct a free Bicycle Safety Rodeo for children ages 7-12 on the Riverton School blacktop. The clinic will teach children riding skills and precautions to take so they can ride a bicycle safely. No need to register.

At 3:45, the Community Ride, a family ride through Riverton, begins and ends at Riverview Estates on Bank Avenue.  Refreshments after ride.  All participants must wear a bicycle helmet. No need to register for Community Ride… just be on site.

Finally, the excitement of competitive cycling returns for the seventh time on Sunday, June 11, with Carlos Rogers’ Historic Riverton Criterium.  First started in 2011, the family-friendly event this year draws men and women athletes, amateur and pro, who will each vie for a share of the $3,500 cash purse.

As a result of Carlos’ efforts, the Historic Riverton Criterium has given over $25,000 to local charities and organizations so far! This year’s main beneficiary is the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

Carlos is doing a “Fill the Truck” food drive the day of the race. Bring non-perishable food items to support the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

Registration for the Historic Riverton Criterium is open now and sponsorship fundraising is underway. Keep up with the latest developments on the Historic Riverton Criterium Facebook page. – JMc

You Asked For It!

You are showing your age if you recall the 1950s TV request show called “You Asked For It.”

Today’s request comes from Andrew of Palmyra:

Does anyone have information about the old Palmyra Airport 1937 to 1944? I am an airport planner living in Palmyra, interested in our history.

Google comes through again with Paul Freeman’s website, Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields, which has descriptions, history, and images of over 2,000 vanished or abandoned airfields in all 50 states.

Several aerial photos and maps accompany the fascinating section on Palmyra’s short-lived airport.

Former Town Historian Betty Hahle briefly mentioned “…the little airport on S-17” in her “Yesterday” column in the December 1977 Gaslight News.  However, for more information we must dig into the HSR online archive of old hometown newspapers.

New Era, April 11, 1940, p1

An examination of The New Era reveals this April 11, 1940 piece announcing that “the way has practically cleared for an airport within the Borough of Palmyra, to be operated by Robert Snover.”

Bob Snover served as owner-operator of the airport until his enlistment in the Coast Guard during World War II.  He later became a Palmyra councilman and was a mortician with Palmyra’s Snover Funeral Home.

We may infer from a February 1944 report of “a bad field fire north of the former Palmyra Airport” that the airfield had already ceased operation. It confirms Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal use of the tract as a proving ground.

The New Era acknowledged in July 1945 that the former airport played a role in the development of a new type of artillery weapon.

In between that first notice in 1940 and the last in 1947, several other articles trace the history of Palmyra Airport. Within a year, it quickly grew from one hangar, one instructor, and one plane to ten hangars, three aircraft, and two full-time instructors.

New Era, Aug 8, 1940, p8

June 1940 saw the start of a flying club in which applicants could, for $2.50, receive lessons with the goal of obtaining a license, and with their paid membership, own an interest in the airport-owned plane.

Opening on the brink of World War Two, the new airport ignited people’s enthusiasm for flying and, in today’s vernacular, went viral a month later as applicants swamped the Civil Aeronautics Authority for a seat in a 72-hour ground training course.  One of 225 such projects nation-wide, “the plan was devised to step-up national defense.”

Over one-hundred young men and women attended opening classes at Palmyra High School. By the following September, five of the top-ranking graduates received free government flying scholarships.

Riverton’s Lieutenant Carl Weninger was one course graduate who received his pilot’s license through the program and went on to active duty overseas in the Army Air Corp.

Such a story often poses more questions than it answers. Is there a forgotten cache of photos of the airport or its students and instructors stored in a family album? Did anyone keep a journal or have any mementos survived? Can a pilot steer us to a photo of a Taylorcraft BC (BC-50) dual-control trainer with 50HP Lycoming engine as described in the articles?  Does anyone recall the secret weapons testing on the grounds of the former airport? Descriptions of explosions rocking Palmyra and Riverton for months must have kept it from being secret for very long.

If you can add to this record, please contact the Society. – JMc

A Chronology of Newspaper Clippings

PS: Paul Freeman also profiled the Moorestown airfield.