Cover illustration from "Schuylkill Boat Song," dedicated to the Atlantic Barge Club by composer P. Blanchor, 1842.
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Crew boats and boatmen competition on the Schuylkill River near the Columbia Avenue railroad bridge.

Credit: Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia

Completion of the Fairmont Dam in 1821 created a three-mile stretch of smooth water on the lower Schuylkill River ideal for racing. Rowing began in earnest in September of 1835 when a pair of eight-oared barges representing the Imp and Blue Devil social clubs raced before thousands of spectators who lined the banks.

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