In the late 1800’s and at the turn of the twentieth century Tinicum Township and the town of Essington was known for their ship building, piano building, and as the home of the Philadelphia Lazaretto Quarantine Station. Tinicum Township and the town of Essington was also known as a vacation and leisure resort for affluent Philadelphians. Affluent businessman from the city of Philadelphia would bring their families to their summer homes located in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania and travel by horse and buggy to the beach which is where the Boeing Helicopter Plant and other river front industry is now located. In the late 1800’s a group of yachtsman formed a club for the purpose of promoting boating pleasure and camaraderie on the Delaware River. The group after a very tumultuous start formed the Philadelphia Y.C. The club was built on the site that was occupied by the Old Essington Fishing Club which was located at what is now the Piasecki Aviation Plant on Second Street in Essington, Pa.
On or around 1900 several of the members of the club were disgruntled at some of the parties and gatherings that took place at the club and resigned and formed a more conservative club that is now known as the Corinthian Y.C. By 1909 both the Philadelphia and Corinthian Y.C.s were at their membership capacity and the “common man” was not part of the nautical equation that was in abundance along the Delaware River. In 1911 three men who were from the Township of Tinicum, wanted to have all of the boating privileges, experiences and camaraderie that others were experiencing on the Delaware River and decided to form their own yacht club and call it The Riverside Y.C.
The Riverside Y.C. became chartered as an official club in 1919. Some of the older members of the club have said that the 3 stars on the Riverside Y.C. Burgee are there for the original 3 founders from 1911. Shortly after forming the Riverside Y.C. the members needed a place to meet. In the beginning the club members met at various locations. In the early 1900’s Frank Mills owned the Sea Plane Base located on the Lazaretto property and leased the Doctor’s quarters of the Lazaretto Quarantine Station to the members of the Riverside Y.C.
The Lazaretto Quarantine Station was established in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Yellow Fever was rampant in the city of Philadelphia and there was quite a bit of fear of this dreaded disease. The Board of Health in Philadelphia had to relocate the Lazaretto Quarantine station that was behind Old Fort Mifflin on Providence Island. On August 7, 1791 the city of Philadelphia purchased the property of the Lazaretto for the sum of $2,000. Work began immediately on the new Lazaretto and in 1800 it was completed. In 1801 shipping vessels coming into Philadelphia were quarantined and inspected for sickness and in some cases death. Those vessels who were found to have either sickness or death on board were quarantined at the Lazaretto. Many poor souls saw their last days there; some were buried in unmarked graves within the confines of the old quarantine station. The quarantine station was moved to Marcus Hook in 1893. The Lazaretto then became a popular picnic ground for Philadelphia politicians, city employees, councilmen and their families. In 1915, it became the Philadelphia Seaplane base and at the onset of WWl the U. S. Army used the property for aviation training. After WWl it reverted back to a seaplane base that has now ceased operation. After renting the doctors quarters of the Lazaretto for many years the members of the Riverside Y.C. purchased the building on April 1, 1939. The current club has been significantly renovated since the purchase and now has a new addition that was originally the back porch of the building which extended the bar area. In addition, after World War 1, one of the members by the name of William Tallman was able to get an old barracks donated from the military that was renovated and became the banquet room. The room to this day is known as “The Tallman Room”. You can’t write about the Riverside Y.C. building without mentioning its history of paranormal activities. The club is written up in the annals of The Philadelphia Parapsychology Organization for some of the events that were reported from its members and others who have frequented the club. Urban legend speaks about the mysterious “Pink Lady” who has been seen by members and contractors who did work on the club. The story of the “Pink Lady” dates back to the days when the club was the home of the Doctor’s of the Lazaretto Quarantine Station. It’s been told that the head of the Physicians died of yellow fever. The thinking by many who have investigated the paranormal activities is that the Pink Lady’s spirit still roams the halls of the Riverside Y.C. searching for her deceased husband. It’s something that most members joke about however some have expressed it as not a joke and a matter that they wish not to speak about. Many members refuse to go to the third floor of the clubhouse where a majority of the sightings of the Pink Lady have occurred.
Early on the Riverside Y.C. was known for competing in and either placing or winning boat races. Trophies from the early 1920’s are displayed at the club that designate winning the Overfalls Light Ship Race, the Yachtsman Club annual Race, The Ship John Lighthouse 100 mile race and the Caldwell Trophy race where the Riverside Y.C. won throughout the 1920’s and into the early 1950’s. For many years The Riverside Y.C. was written up in Motor Boating Magazine for their annual cruise. Hand drawn Maps from 1916 charting the cruise are still in the records of the club.
As years went by generations of members families were part of the Riverside legacy. Names such as Brolley, Receveur, Shoepe, Ewing, Riegal, McDaid, Bendit, Goslin, Warrington and many others have generations of relatives that were and are club members. The club currently has 148 active members. There are 28 slips where members keep their boats during the summer. Activities such as the Annual Cruise still takes place and the club is known for their Annual Hawaiian Luau, End of Summer Party, Holiday Activities and many charitable events.