Turtle Rock Lighthouse . Schuylkill River . Philadelphia . Watercolor . 9" x 12"
... the Schuylkill River has been an important link in Pennsylvania's system of commercially exploited waterways, following the initial establishment of the European presence in Pennsylvania. The river was dammed in 1821 to create a controlled source of energy, enabling waterwheels to drive pumps, lifting fresh water out of the Schuylkill and run it through the massive and impressive and architecturally significant, Philadelphia Waterworks complex, which then dispersed the water using a piped, gravity system throughout the city. A free standing, gas fueled, brick light tower was built in 1887, at a height of 30-feet, to mark the location of the dam. The city and the coal carrier, Schuylkill Navigation Company, built a bypass canal to circumvent the dam and continue transport downstream to the Delaware River. The large body of water, held above the dam immediately became a recreational destination for boating, fishing and ice-skating in the winter. The land surrounding it became Fairmount Park, for picnicking and other diversions. Rowing clubs were formed and boathouses built. In 1897, the Sedgeley Club was granted permission to build a new clubhouse on the grounds of the light tower. This building, designed by Philadelphia architect Arthur H. Brockie, was constructed adjacent and around the base of the existing tower. In 1990, the beacon was electrified, the tower re-pointed and the Sedgeley structure refurbished. Turtle Rock Lighthouse is on point and included in the string of buildings known as "Boathouse Row"... listed in the National Register of Historic Places as of 1987. Unfortunately, as of 2018, the waters above the dam have become so shallow, over many years of accumulated silt; the oars of the iconic, low draft, racing sculls are churning mud.