IMG_1003On behalf of the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Barge, I want to thank you for your  interest in our rowing club.  We have a proud heritage, dating back to 1861, as indicated in our logo.  In the many years between 1861 and 1947, Pennsylvania Barge was recognized as a powerhouse of rowing, having won numerous medals and regattas.

Joining the Schuylkill Navy in 1863, Pennsylvania Barge had 359 race entries and 106 victories.

Its teams represented the United States in the 1920 (four-with-cox), 1924 (four-with), 1928 (four-with and four-without), and 1932 (pair-with), Olympic Games. The 1932 Pennsylvania Barge pair, representing the United States, won the Gold Medal.  Charles Kieffer of that pair was a LaSalle College High School graduate.

Painter Thomas Eakins was a longtime member of Pennsylvania Barge Club. In the image above of a painting done the painter, Eakins is second from left, rowing starboard in 2 seat.

Max Schmitt sculling in single shell, Eakins rowing away from Schmitt.

His friend, Max Schmitt, rowed for the club, and won the single sculls championship 6 times. The detail of Eakins’ painting in the banner at the head of this page shows the Biglin brothers in a pair-oared shell wearing the colors of Pennsylvania Barge. Throughout the 19th and and early decades of the 20th century Pennsylvania Barge was a vibrant and successful group of Philadelphians, champions on the river as well as in the civic life of the city.

As a result of World War II, the Club suffered a drastic reduction in membership. Because of its loss of membership, in 1955, the Club turned its boathouse over to a sucession of caretaker organizations and the building served as an administrative center for rowing, including serving as headquarters for the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen (which later became USRowing), as well as, the Schuylkill Navy, the Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association, the Middle States Regatta Association, the Center for Adaptive Sports, the Frostbite Regatta, and the Dad Vail Rowing Association. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Barge Club was reestablished as a rowing club.

In 2009, the Club was reactivated and reinstated as a member of the Schuylkill Navy and continues to be an administrative center for rowing in Philadelphia with the Schuylkill Navy, the Philadelphia Center for Adaptive Sports, the Dad Vail Regatta, the Frostbite Regatta, and LaSalle College High School being its tenants.  In 2010, extensive renovations were completed to the building exterior, boat bay, first and second floors.

Summer 2011 – The next generation of Pennsylvania Barge Oarsmen readying for race in Four-Oared with Cox.

We hope you will share with us the glory of the past and the enthusiasm for the future as we rebuild Pennsylvania Barge Club, with its beautifully renovated building, into a viable rowing entity.

Michael J Ragan,
President Pennsylvania Barge Club

Thank you to the National Gallery of Art for permitting us to use in our banner above, Thomas Eakins’ The Biglin Brothers Racing (detail), gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney to the nation.