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Time Traveling on the Delaware
By Lynn Whitney
It’s a day made for sailing. The sun is shining, a fair wind is blowing and the Delaware River is beckoning, but where to go? How about a trip back to the past?
Before starting your trip back in time, you might want to start your day with a leisurely hike through Amico Island, adjacent to Riverside Marina. Not actually an island, but a peninsula, the park was created as a result of Merrill Ambler’s Sand and Gravel Company’s dredging operation, which created the existing harbor. Here you will find 2 miles of trails, a lake, scenic overlooks, beaches and wildlife including white-tail deer, red fox, water fowl, great blue herons and if you are lucky, a bald eagle.
When you are ready to set sail, head up river past the majestic mansions of Edgewater Park with their expansive green lawns, sloping down to the water. You will soon reach the Red Dragon Canoe Club, recognizable by its Mansard roof, popularized during the reign of Napolean III as French Emperor. The home was originally owned by Paul Shipman, a Louisville Journal editor credited with persuading Kentucky to remain neutral during the Civil War. In a 1912 letter, Shipman wrote that he and his wife were settling, “on the banks of the Delaware, at the most beautiful reach of that historic river…” We agree with him! As legend has it, a ghost inhabits the 3rd floor, a woman who wanders the room when the moon is full.
Come about and sail down river past Andalusia, on the Pennsylvania side. The estate was built in 1797 by Nicholas Biddle. One of the country’s most powerful bankers and a true Renaissance Man, Mr. Biddle was also known as a poet, editor, architectural expert , experimental farmer and adversary of President Andrew Jackson. The house is probably one of the finest examples of Greek Revival Architecture in the country. Through its column flanked doors passed such dignitaries as John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, the Marquis de Lafayette and Joseph Bonaparte, the former King of Spain.
Just past Andalusia, on the Jersey side, you will see another column flanked mansion. Built in 1910 by the Swiss born Theophilus Zurbrugg, owner of the Keystone Watch Case Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of pocket watch cases. The three story red brick building was the last commissioned work of noted Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness.
Continue on down river past the Riverton Yacht Club. Opened in 1865, it is the oldest yacht club on the Delaware and the 9th oldest in the country. The Civil War had just ended, Lincoln’s assassination was resonating throughout the country and patriotism was running high. To honor this sense of loyalty, the club selected a signal of 13 stars in a blue field surrounded by red and white stripes. Time your sail just right and you can catch the Wednesday night races.
Turn your boat around and come back to the present.
Dredge Harbor 1912
Riverton Yacht Club