Breweries of the Schuylkill: A Virtual Trip Upstream



Rich Wagner, PA Brewery Historian

The Schuylkill is one of our nation’s oldest industrial rivers. At various times in the 19th and 20th centuries, 80 breweries were located on its banks in towns from the mouth to head with 38 in Philadelphia and 22 in Reading. Join us as Rich shares tales and images on a trip upstream to view all the breweries that have ever existed along the river from Philadelphia to Pottsville.

OESIA member Rich Wagner has been diligently researching Pennsylvania’s brewing history for more than 30 years. He mastered the art of brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and has honed his skills working at several area craft breweries over the years. A talented home brewer, Rich gives demonstrations of colonial brewing several times a year, leads tours of breweries past and present, writes articles and gives talks on brewery history, architecture and ephemera and is the author of Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty (2012, The History Press).

Date: Monday, May 7, 2018

Time:  5:30 Refreshments

   6:15 Program

Cost: $10 per person if preregistered       $15 if not reserved in advance

Place: Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, 640 Water Works Drive

           You can park in the Circle, closer to the FWWIC

Registration: E-mail names and phone numbers of members and guests to:

  or phone Reese at 610-692-4456

First Sailing Steamship


Meet the Experts: “Steam Coffin” presentation

Saturday, April 21 from 11am to 12pm

Steam Coffin is the story of New London native Captain Moses Rogers who’s first sailing “steamship” broke the barriers of fear and skepticism to open the seas for steam-powered shipping.

In 1807 Robert Fulton declared his intent to build an experimental “steamboat.” In the years following Fulton’s success, running these steamboats on rivers, lakes and bays became a normal and accepted part of American life. But taking such a vessel on a voyage across the ocean was a different proposition altogether. Experienced mariners didn’t think it could be done, but sloop captain Moses Rogers believed otherwise. Combining his knowledge of the old mode of transport (sail) with the new mode of transport (steam), he set out to design a vessel that was capable of overcoming the many perils at sea. This craft would be not a steamboat, but a “steamship,” the first of its kind. She was named Savannah. This presentation will show how Captain Rogers designed and built this revolutionary vessel…nearly two centuries ago!

Finding a crew for such a new-fangled contraption proved to be exceedingly difficult.  Mariners—conditioned as they were to “knowing the ropes” of a sailing ship—looked upon this new vessel, and its unnatural means of propulsion, with the greatest suspicion.  To them, it was not a “Steam Ship”—instead, it was a “Steam Coffin.”

John Laurence Busch is an independent historian who focuses upon the interaction between humanity and technology, specializing in the first generation of steam-powered vessels. He has devoted years of research to discovering the true story of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah. The result is STEAM COFFIN, described by numerous book reviewers as the definitive account of what truly is America’s sea saga. John has made over 300 presentations on Captain Rogers and the Savannah to a wide variety of audiences, stretching from Maine to Puerto Rico to California, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

The Meet the Expert series takes place on the third Saturday of each month. This unique opportunity to hear thematic talks from experts in their respective fields will include a 45-minute lecture and 15-minute Q&A. Meet the Experts is included in your admission price and is free to all members of the museum.

Below is a link to the Busch book on the subject.

National Museum of Industrial History

602 E 2nd St

Bethlehem, PA 18015

Brewing and Malting in Early Philadelphia

In addition, Rich will be giving the Oliver Evans Chapter a presentation on Breweries along the Schuylkill River coming up in May

Rich Wagner, Pennsylvania Brewery Historian

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

100 E Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118

THURSDAY, APRIL 19 | 7:00 pm

Members: $15

Non-Members: $20

Anthony Morris, ancestor of Arboretum founders, John and Lydia Morris, became Philadelphia’s second brewer in 1687. The Morris family founded several breweries to supply ship captains with necessary sustenance for their long voyages and serve the city’s thriving tavern culture that supplied the growing city with food, drink, and lodging. When Philadelphia was the second largest English-speaking city after London, and the largest seaport in the colonies, it produced more beer than the rest of the colonies combined. William Penn and later the founding fathers promoted the development of the brewing industry as a solid foundation for a temperate society and as an engine for promoting industry and technological innovation. Brewing gave agriculture production a boost since brewers needed barley and hops, which encouraged their cultivation. Rich Wagner began interpreting the brewing process in 1990 at William Penn’s home, Pennsbury Manor. Since then he has constructed his own brewing system to demonstrate the brewing technology of the late seventeenth century. Using this experience along with primary source material he gives us a view of the city’s earliest breweries.


Program Reminder

Manayunk Sewer Detention Basin Tour

DATE: Tuesday, April 10, 2018                           TIME: 2 PM

LOCATION: Enter Venice Island from Main St. in Manayunk via Lock St. We will meet at the Manayunk Performing Arts Center.,-75.2234336,17.27z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c6b895bcca36a7:0xd3bcbe23906e7c07!8m2!3d40.0234686!4d-75.2222112

REGISTRATION: E-mail or call Reese Davis at or  610-692-4456