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.

Support local Vietnam Veterans Chapter 565: Eat at Wendy’s today from 5-8 pm

Our local Vietnam veterans take care of the memorial in Memorial Park; they participate in Memorial Day programs at local schools; they annually replace the flags at veterans’ plots in area cemeteries; they properly retire used flags; and they are instrumental in Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades.

Please consider supporting these efforts!

And mark your calendars for Sept. 20, 2013 when the exhibit When We Were Soldiers will open at ArtFusion 19464 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. ArtFusion is looking for Vietnam veterans to participate in numerous ways. Sponsorships are also still available. Call ArtFusion at 610-326-2506.


Register today for River Sojourn to avoid late fee!

15th Annual
Schuylkill River Sojourn
Friday May 10th is the last day to register to avoid the late fee! 

2013 Sojourn Theme: A Civil War Odyssey 

 June 1-7, 2013  

 Register online now


Download a mail-in registration form  


  • Register by May 10 to avoid a late fee.  Registrations received after May 10 will be automatically charged a $10 late fee. No registrations can be accepted after May 25.
  • There are plenty of spaces available for Tuesday June 4 through Friday June 7. Learn more about these days. Registration is full for the first three days and full-trip.
  • Click here for more information, pricing, itinerary, or photos.

The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a 7-day, 112-mile guided paddle from Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row in Philadelphia that is organized annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.  Participants can register for one day or the entire week.

Photos: 2012 Sojourn Courtesy Jeremy Quant

Pottsgrove Manor celebrates annual Colonial May Fair on Saturday, May 4th

From Pottsgrove Manor…
About the Fair
Saturday, May 4, 2013
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Bring the whole family out to welcome spring at this annual event! Held each year on the first Saturday in May, Pottsgrove Manor’s Annual Colonial May Fair is a local tradition. Visitors can come back year after year and see something new and different at each year’s fair. Guests can enjoy a variety of 18th century entertainments, including magic shows, music, puppet theater, and the traditional dance around the colorful Maypole. There are games, contests, and activities for young visitors. Early American crafters give demonstrations of historic trades and sell their wares, and food vendors offer tasty treats. Scroll down for more details on this year’s fair!
Suggested Donation: $2 per person.

Free parking is available at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street. Visitors can then either walk up the street or get a free ride on the restored Pottstown trolley from the parking area to the Manor. During the fair, Pottsgrove Manor’s parking lot is reserved for handicapped parking only.

Once you arrive on-site, be sure to stop by the Information Tent to get information about the fair, Pottsgrove Manor, and other upcoming events!

Scheduled Activities & Performances

  • “Grinning for Cheese” worst smile contest at 11:15 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • Hoop Rolling Races for children of all ages at 2:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Levram the Great performs magic at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. He’ll also perform strolling magic tricks throughout the day.
  • May Pole Dancing at 11:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.
  • Signora Bella performs acrobatic feats at 1:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble performs at 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.
  • Tuckers’ Tales Puppet Theater performs St. George and the Dragon at 12:00 p.m. and Cinderella at 3:00 p.m. They will give strolling musical performances throughout the day and provide music for the May Pole dances.
  • Prize Drawing at 4:45 p.m. (must be present to win)

Ongoing Activities
Self-Guided Tours of the Mansion—first-floor only

Hands-On Activities:

  • Butter churning
  • Colonial toys and games
  • Dress-up booth
  • Fortune-telling
  • Games of chance
  • Period ball games

Living History Demonstrations:

  • Animal husbandrymeet sheep, a goat, and chickens
  • Blacksmithing
  • Bobbin lacemaking
  • Butter churning & cheese-making
  • Gunsmithing
  • Open-hearth cooking by Deborah Peterson
  • Spinning, weaving, and fiber arts
  • Tailoring
  • Tape weaving by Eleanor Bittle, aka “The Tape Lady”

Crafters & Vendors

  • MMG Concessionsburgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, fries, hand-rolled pretzels, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and more

Early American Crafts:

  • Angel’s Wool Farm—handspun, handknitted Angora and Shetland wool goods
  • Appalachia Brooms—handmade primitive brooms
  • Floral hair wreaths & nosegays—all proceeds benefit Pottsgrove Manor’s programs
  • Frantastic Fashions—colonial ladies’ accessories by Fran Wilcox
  • Lee’s Bees—learn about beekeeping and buy local honey products
  • Musser’s Chair Caning—rush and cane chairs
  • Pottsgrove Manor Museum Shop—books, toys & games, 18th-century reproduction items, and more!
  • Red Rope Farm—local wool yarns and knitted goods, handmade soap
  • Scherenschnitte—Pennsylvania German paper cutting by Brenda Miller
  • Shoemaker Pottery—redware from Lancaster, PA
  • Zina Boryshand-spun yarns

Schuylkill River Sojourn FULL-TRIP registration now online!

15th Annual 

Schuylkill River Sojourn
Last week of exclusive
full-trip registration.
General registration opens April 15 

The 2013 Sojourn Theme is  

The Schuylkill During the Civil War  

June 1-7, 2013     

  • New this year!! During the first two weeks in April we are accepting registrations from full-trip registrants only.  This is being done to ensure that people who wish do the full trip don’t miss out on the first two days, which fill up very quickly. Registration for all other participants will open April 15!
  • For the first time this year we are offering online registration. You can register online by visiting After you register online, you will still need to download several waivers and medical forms that must be filled out and mailed in with original signatures. Links to these forms will be available on your registration confirmation form. They can also be found on our website at
  • If you do not wish to register online, you can download a registration form here and mail or fax it to us.
  • For more information, a general itinerary for each day, or to view photos of past sojourns click here or call the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.
  •  Our 2013 Sojourn outfitter is Doug Chapman, owner of Take it Outdoors Adventure Group. Our guides will once again be Alan and Betsy Quant from Canoe Susquehanna.

The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a 7-day, 112-mile guided paddle from Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row in Philadelphia that is organized annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.  Participants can register for one day or the entire week.


Photos: 2012 Sojourn Courtesy Jeremy Quant

Happy Hour this Friday at Elks on High Street!


There’s a happy hour this Friday, February 22nd from 5-7 at the historic Elks Lodge #814, 61 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA.

Shake off those winter blues and join us for February fun!

Meet new people, network, connect!

The Elks are taking care of the appetizers, wine, and beer on tap for $5!

Mixed drinks available at cash bar. (Cash bar only after 7 pm.)

RSVP now to

Hope to see you there!

Weitzenkorn’s “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” Sale runs today through Feb. 2nd

I apologize for being kind of quiet these days. I’m working on a book called “Legendary Locals of Pottstown, PA” for Arcadia Publishing, and my deadline is looming… But I just had to share this news about Weitzenkorn’s “Buy 1 Get 1 Free Sale.”

Marc Weitzenkorn. (Photo by Ed Berger.)
Marc Weitzenkorn. (Photo by Ed Berger.)

Weitzenkorn’s is a fine menswear store with a Big & Tall section at 145 E. High Street in downtown Pottstown. It’s been there since 1864. That’s when Abraham Lincoln was president. Run by the same family. They know their stuff. They can help fit you, or help you pick the right fit for whoever you’re shopping for. They are, quite simply, a real class act. And they are most certainly Legendary Locals.

A deal like this can’t be beat: Buy one item and get any other item of equal or lesser value for free. It doesn’t have to be two of the same item. So get over there on your lunch break or take off work early to see what they’ve got and snatch up some really fine duds for you or the special man – or men! – in your life.


Monday 9:30-7:00
Tue,Wed,Thur 9:30-5:30
Friday 9:30-9:00
Saturday 9:30-5:30



Historic House Tours set for this Sunday afternoon in Pottstown

I don’t know how my mom and I are going to get to all these houses on Sunday, but we’re going to do our darnedest to make it happen.

The Historic Pottstown Neighborhood Association presents its Historic Pottstown by Candlelight tour tomorrow, December 9th from 1-6 pm. This tour has been organized in a big way, once again, by Sue & Bill Krause, some of Pottstown’s long-standing, extraordinary volunteers.

Tickets/brochures can be purchased ahead of time TODAY for $12 at Carter’s Locksmith Shop, 127 N. Hanover St., or Pottstown Florist at 300 High St. Otherwise, it will cost you $13 on the day of the tour TOMORROW and then you can only purchase a ticket at Carter’s.

DETAILS: There is a trolley to take you around to most of these buildings. When you get your ticket, you can get the full scoop. Note that there is a Victorian Tea held by the Doe Club at the Elks Lodge #814 at 61 E. High Street from noon-2pm only. Refreshments and lavatories are at Zion’s United Church of Christ at 100 N. Hanover St. (built in 1796). There will be a Live Nativity on the lawn next to Emmanuel Lutheran from 2:30-4:30, weather permitting.

Twenty – 20! – buildings are on this year’s tour. I’ve scanned part of the brochure (see below) so you can check out the buildings and descriptions here. (See above. You MUST have a ticket/brochure to enter any of these buildings tomorrow afternoon!) There are plenty of newcomers… just a few… the Alumni Chapel and Memorial Hall at the Hill School; The Highland House, recently purchased by Wyndcroft School; the former Dr. Porter house at 344 E. High Street; a home on Queen Street in the East End with original woodwork and hardwood floors, representing the beauty of so much of Pottstown’s brick twin housing stock and many, many more. And if that’s not enough, don’t forget about Pottstgrove Manor, the historic home of the founder of our dear town, John Potts…

According to the estimable Evan Brandt in this Mercury article, “From 2 to 8 p.m., Pottsgrove Manor’s annual “Twelfth Night” tours, which continue until Jan. 6, will be transformed into a “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight” tour at the historic residence, 100 King St.

A donation of $2 is suggested for this event.

For this one-night-only event, costumed interpreters will portray colonial guests of John Potts, the ironmaster who founded Pottstown and built his mansion in 1752.

As visitors make their way through the house, they will hear the strains of music played on historical instruments, see English country dancing, catch a whiff of the delicious smells in the kitchen as historical cook, Deborah Peterson, prepares a colonial feast, play traditional tavern games, and enjoy the beauty of the mansion lit by candlelight and bedecked with greenery.

Next door to the mansion, in the Miller’s House, young visitors can make free colonial crafts to take home, and complimentary seasonal refreshments of hot spiced cider and cookies will be served.

Outside in the manor’s courtyard, visitors will be able to warm themselves by a bonfire (weather permitting) and enjoy historic carols sung by the Colonial Revelers singing group between 2 and 4 p.m.

Visitors are asked to park at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street; a shuttle will transport visitors to and from Pottsgrove Manor throughout the event. Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.”


Choose & cut your own Christmas tree at Pine Hill Farm

Photo courtesy of Pine Hill Tree Farm
Photo courtesy of Pine Hill Tree Farm

Christmas tree season is upon us, and Pine Hill Choose-N-Cut Christmas Tree Farm on Sheep Hill Road in North Coventry has a bumper crop of trees ready in the fields.  The basic price is still $25 – as has been the case for over 20 years.  They  do have some larger and more perfect specimens individually priced higher.  But they still have loads of trees at $25.

You can do all that at the Pine Hill Choose-N-Cut Christmas Tree Farm on Sheep Hill Road in North Coventry. Pine Hill has been run by the Sally and Dick Heylmun family for 50 years. And for the past 21 years, they have  held their prices steady at $25 a tree.

Pine Hill is just 2 miles from downtown Pottstown, yet has that full country atmosphere.  Mrs. Heylmun still mows around the trees, shears them, and generally oversees the care of the farm, keeping the place like a lawn.  Having raised 5 boys on a teacher’s pay, the Heylmuns know what it costs to raise a family, and they have refused to raise prices.

The Pine Hill website provides nice photos and descriptions of the various trees and their needles, so you can decide ahead of time what kind of tree you’re interested in.

Hometown Holiday activities begin this weekend in downtown Pottstown

Local arts and historic organizations and businesses, along with the Pottstown Downtown Improvement Distric Authority, otherwise known as PDIDA (puh-dee-da), iarebringing a host of Hometown Holiday events to downtown Pottstown on the weekends leading up to Christmas.

Events kick off this Saturday, Dec. 1st when Santa and his elves arrive at 5 p.m., making a healthy, heart-warming entrance at High and Evans Street, before heading down High Street to Smith Plaza for the lighting of the Christmas tree there. Smith Plaza itself will be all lit up, too!

At the Plaza, visitors can enjoy holiday music, free trolley rides from 4:40 to 8 p.m., and horse-drawn wagon rides from 5 to 7 p.m., for just $10.

Santa’s Village will be open with Santa himself, kids’ crafts, reindeer food making, and a coloring contest at Tango Marketing, 139 E. High Street, just across the street from  Smith Plaza.

In the 300 block of High Street, the Empire Hook & Ladder Fire Company will provide roasted chestnuts and other treats. Additional events, including children’s story hours, open houses and activities for children, will be held Fridays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21 and on Saturday, Dec. 8 and 15.

Throughout the holiday season, beginning next Thursday, Dec. 6th,  Steel River Playhouse’s “Annie” will be performed and run through Dec. 22. You can also stop in at ArtFusion 19464 at 254 E. High Street for their winter show, “The Secret Life of Trees”, and to pick up unique gifts.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, the Candlelight Tour of Pottsgrove Manor runs from 2 to 8 p.m., while the Pottstown Holiday Historic House Tour will be from 1 to 6 p.m. A $12 ticket includes a Victorian Tea presented by the Doe Club at the Pottstown Elks from 12noon-2pm.  All homes and buildings on the tour are open from 1pm-6pm.  Free trolley transportation and refreshments for all ticket holders. Tickets are available after Thanksgiving at Carter’s Locksmith Shop, 137 N Hanover Street. $12 in advance, $14 day of tour. For more information contact Sue Krause at (610) 323-2229.

All of these events are sponsored by the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, Historic Pottstown Neighborhood Association, Pottgrove Manor, Steel River Playhouse, ArtFusion 19464, and individual businesses. BUY LOCAL, PLAY LOCAL, AND CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS LOCAL!

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