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   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 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.

Bicycles Then & Now Program traces bicycle history and heralds June Bicycle Weekend

Event Coordinator Iris Gaughan writes:

The joint Porch Club/HSR Riverton Bicycling: Then and Now program on Tuesday evening was interesting and informative… a great segue for The Historic Riverton Century and Community Ride and Historic Riverton Criterium!  June 10th and 11th promises to be a weekend of community fun, embracing so many aspects of bicycling.

Veteran Wheelman Gary Sanderson traced the evolution of the bicycle from the draisine to the modern safety bicycle, which turn 200 years old this year.

Carlos Rogers

Carlos Rogers, creator of the Historic Riverton Criterium, explained the origin and management of the cycling competition which has given away over $25,000 to local charities and civic organizations since its inception in 2011.

Matt Morse

Matt Morse of Cynergy Cycling Club gave an overview of plans for the Historic Riverton Century and Community Ride scheduled for June 10, 2017.

Although plans are still unfolding, the all-day event tentatively will include several organized club morning distance rides ending in Riverton… 15 miles, 30 miles, 35 miles, 45 miles, 55 miles. Cost: Cynergy Club Members $10; Non-Members $20 (Cost includes lunch.

Coinciding with the arrival of the distance riders, lunch is scheduled for 11:30 am – 1:30 pm.

From 2 pm to 4:00 Cynergy Cycling Club will direct a free Bicycle Safety Rodeo on the school blacktop. 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.

Click here to view the entire 78-slide presentation (7.54MB PDF) given on April 18.

Check back for registration and waiver forms, bike route maps, and more details as they are released. – JMc

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From the HSR Playground

I concluded Illuminating Riverton’s Past, the first post made on our renovated website in January 2011, with “This will be no fun at all if no one out there is listening.”

Embracing the Law of Attraction, the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on, I implored readers to help illuminate incomplete parts of Riverton’s historical record by contributing information and images to our virtual archive to be accessed online.

Six years, 355 posts, 32 newsletters, and thousands of images later, folks are listening, contributing, and I am having a ball.

It seems we may have reached a kind of critical mass where the networking aspect of this outreach effort now results in viewers regularly contributing content to the site.

Roger Prichard’s recent photo commentary on the Clothier Carriage House and scans of a c.1887 Fitler-Lindsay photo album are only the latest in a string of reader contributions.

Jeanette (Jessie) Hunter Choate at right with Bertha Lothrop possibly c.1920s

A penciled note in the Fitler-Lindsay photo album, mentioned above, suggests that either Bertha Lothrop or her father, David Lothrop, took the photos. Last fall, Raven Davis Cotter stumbled across our website while researching her family history and sent us a scan of a photo we believe to be of Bertha Lothrop. The June 2013 Gaslight News tells much more about these commercial photographers.

Riverton’s PRR Station Plans and Elevations CREDIT: Jerry Mooney

Just posted on the IMAGES tab under the RIVERTON RAILROAD STATION section is this architect’s plan submitted by HSR member Jerry Mooney.

These scans of a classic Riverton Fire Company crew photo and a family home on Fulton Avenue c.1885 sent in by cousins Mary Ann Banko and Katherine Strohlein are a treat.

Can you see the faces in the window of the home? Mary and Katharine are trying to figure out who they are.

216, 218 Fulton Street c1885
Riverton Fire Co. c1925

Katharine writes: Adolph Strohlein is in the back row, tall, in-between the 2 torches, 6th from the left. He was a volunteer firefighter. I’m guessing this is around 1925.

Always a bonus when the donor can provide context. Except for Granddad Adolph, we don’t know other identities, but we welcome your suggestions. A google search for an ancestor or a old homestead has directed many visitors our way.

Other 2017 posts highlighted items from Sheila Hines, Carl McDermott, Rich Rosmandoand, well…, me. 

Palmyra Record, Mar 15, 1918, p1.

Ninety-nine years ago the Palmyra Home Guard received its weapons for defense of the homeland during the Great War and were planning to unite with Riverton on maneuvers and drill. Watch soon for publication of “On the Home Front,” in the March Gaslight News, which recognizes contributions of Rivertonians to World War I. Such articles help us all appreciate our debt to the past.

I have been working recently with Wheelman Gary Sanderson and Carlos Rogers, creator of the Historic Riverton Criterium, preparing a slideshow to accompany their April 18 presentation at the Porch Club, Riverton Bicycling: Then and Now. Such endeavors remind us that events today are tomorrow’s Riverton history. We appreciate members who send in photos and information about current happenings, too.

When our volunteer web developer, Mike Solin, recently asked me how things were going since he implemented an events plugin, a google search plugin, and performed some maintenance, I replied,

Thank you for your continued care and feeding of the website… But I must say you have given me the best adult playground ever.

Maybe don’t google that.

If you are stuck in the house during this snowstorm, see what you can find to shed further light on Riverton’s rich past. – JMc

Founder Henry A. Dreer on right, son Wm. F. Dreer on left

REV. 3-15-2017: Katherine Strohlein adds: “George A. Strohlein is on the left of the house photo. I think Henry Dreer may be on the right.”

Here is a scan from a 1938 Dreer’s Garden Book. Maybe a reader can can confirm or suggest who else the man in Katherine’s photo might be.