Schuylkill River Sojourn celebrates 15 years

This comes to us from Laura Catalano at the Schuylkill River Heritage Area…



From June 1-7 over 200 paddlers will take a Civil War Odyssey down the Schuylkill River

In June, the Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn will celebrate 15 years of celebrating the river.  As always, it will bring a flotilla of colorful kayaks and canoes from Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia from June 1-7, stopping along the way in river towns and parks. The event will be highlighted by programming at every stop on the region’s role in the Civil War.

For 15 years, the sojourn has been organized by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, in Pottstown, in order to draw attention to the river as a beautiful natural, historic and recreational resource. Over that time period, more than 3,000 registrants from 20 states and Canada have participated.

This year, over 200 paddlers will take all or part of the weeklong, 112-mile guided canoe/kayak tour. A record number, 59, will make the full trip, launching their kayaks from Schuylkill Haven on June 1, traveling through five-counties (Schuylkill, Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia), and bidding goodbye to the river at Philadelphia’s Boat House Row on June 7.

Each day, a maximum of 100 boats will be on the water—a sight that is welcomed by people who cheer the sojourners on at bridges and roadsides along the way. The paddlers will visit a number of communities in the region when they stop for lunch and camp out in riverside parks.

 “Over the years, the Schuylkill River Sojourn has gained a reputation for being one of the best sojourns in the state,” said Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “It has made a significant impact on this region, encouraging recreational boating on the river, and spawning the development of the Schuylkill River Water Trail.”

 A water trail is a waterway that is prepared for recreational boating with boat launches, maps and guides. The Schuylkill River Water Trail has been recognized by the American Canoe Association as a “Recommended Water Trail.”

One reason the Schuylkill River Sojourn is highly regarded is that it has a strong educational emphasis. Each year, programs focusing on the river’s history, culture or environment are incorporated into the lunch and evening stops. The public is invited to attend all programs at evening campsites at no charge.

This year’s program theme is A Civil War Odyssey, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The first evening, spent at a Port Clinton campsite, sojourners will hear about a regiment of coal miners who tunneled under the enemy. The following night, they’ll watch a one-woman play about Hopewell Furnace during the Civil War era. They’ll learn about the First Defenders at the Gibraltar campsite, see a living history program on Civil War buglers in Pottstown, discover the region’s role in the Underground Railroad in Mont Clare, and meet Gen. George Meade in Conshohocken. (See attached for a list of public programs).

Highlighting the lunch programming is a presentation by Gettysburg National Historic Park Superintendent Bob Kirby on the park’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. That will take place at 12 p.m. on Monday June 3, in Reading Riverfront Park, in Reading.

While the Schuylkill River Sojourn is clearly a recreational endeavor, its primary purpose is to draw attention to the river as this region’s most critical natural resource and a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people. Studies show that when people paddle a river, they are more likely to be concerned about the health of that river, and to take measures to protect it.

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic and cultural preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development.

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