Towpath Park, where canal history comes alive
East Coventry Township has just two parks, but each one packs quite a lot of possibility into its space. Yesterday I told you about my visit to Ellis Woods Park, and today I’d like to share my impressions of Towpath Park, a grassy strip that lies between Route 724 and the Schuylkill River and Schuylkill Canal. To get to Towpath, turn into the park across Route 724 from the old, overgrown Pizza World at the intersection with Peterman Road.
Although you wouldn’t know it unless you are middle-aged or are wasting time on the Internet, the entrance to Towpath Park is perhaps best known as the longtime resting place of the former Rosedale Diner of Pottstown. A photo of the diner was featured on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ 1973 album, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” which contained the hit “She’s Gone.”
Moving on to more traditional historical matters, just as Ellis Woods Park & the nearby cemetery provided me with a little history lesson, Towpath Park provides some very interesting information about the Schuylkill River canal, the transportation of goods in the 1700s, and what life was like in the area of Frick’s Locks.
As part of his Eagle Scout project, William Dougherty erected a series of four story boards within Towpath Park memorializing the Schuylkill River Navigation canals. (He’s the same young man who made the awesome trail signs in Ellis Woods Park.) It’s best to read the historical markers in order. The first one is located near the children’s playground, which is on your right as you enter Towpath Park. (Except for an oversized, lone metal turtle, the play equipment has been removed, but plans are in the works for replacements.) The first marker is entitled, “Towpath Park Historical Trail.” As you move through the park, parallel with Route 724, you will come upon the other markers: “Life on the Canal,” “Schuylkill Navigation Company,” and “Canal Construction.”
According to the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, between 1816 and 1825, the Schuylkill Canal was built by the Schuylkill Navigation Company to help move anthracite from the coal regions to Philadelphia. If you want to read more, check out their website.
But Towpath Park is not just for budding history buffs. It’s got a wide array of other facilities including a volleyball net, picnic tables, grills, port-o-potties, plenty of parking, a boat launch and mini-dock. The boat launch was upgraded about three years ago when the access road and approach to the boat ramp were paved to improve safety and maintenance. It also provided additional signage to encourage use of the launch. I was there on a gorgeous fall afternoon, and the water looked so inviting. I really wished I had a boat. Why don’t I have a boat? I wondered. I’ve enjoyed kayaking a few times when I’ve visited friends in Canada in the summers. A simple kayak or canoe would suffice in times like these. It’s not such a major investment. This is definitely something to antagonize my husband about as soon as I get home. “Honey, why don’t we have a boat?” On the other hand, an outfitter on High Street could be a really good business. Then I could just rent a kayak there. Oh… I’m actually blogging now…must get back to story…
Towpath Park serves as a gathering spot for children’s summer programs, the annual Township Park Day in June and an annual stream cleanup day. The park pavilion is also available for rentals, just get in touch with the Township at the number below…. And may all your boating dreams come true!
Location: Route 724, Pottstown, PA 19465, at the intersection with Peterman Road, across from Pizza World and the veterinary hospital
Size: 7 acres
Suitability: All ages. Site of several annual Township events.
Facilities: Tables, benches, pavilions, grills, volleyball, boat ramp, dock, port-o-potties, historical markers, contact with nature, water views. Pavilion is available for rental.
Activities and tips: The old playground equipment has been removed and plans are being made for its replacement. Young children through adults will enjoy the four historical markers which give some local history in manageable chunks.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.