date and time for The Clean Water Act @ 50: Philadelphia

A zoom talk by Adam Levine

Wed, November 2, 2022, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT

Thanks largely to investments and regulations stemming from the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers are now cleaner than they have been at any time in the past century.

Philadelphia Water Department Historian Adam Levine will look at how a rising tide of pollution in the 19th and early 20th centuries affected the well-being of the city’s residents and the region’s overall ecological health, and how that tide has since abated.

Levine will illustrate how tighter controls on industrial and sewage discharges in Philadelphia and in upstream communities have led to significant improvements in both the quality of the river water and the livability of the riverfronts.

More on the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act in Philadelphia:

Here is the link for Adam’s talk:

In the page below there are other events and also a link to a related video, River Rebirth, about this subject, featuring Adam:

Hagley Museum Exhibit

Nation of Inventors

Nation of Inventors celebrates the American spirit of ingenuity by taking visitors on a journey from the early years of the patent system, in the 1790s, through the “golden age” of American invention, in the late 1800s. The exhibit features more than 120 patent models from Hagley’s unique collection highlighting the diverse stories of inventors from all walks of life.

Patent models are scaled representations of inventions and were part of the patent application process for nearly 100 years. Nation of Inventors showcases patent models representing innovations in a variety of industries from transportation and manufacturing to food preservation and medical devices.

In the exhibition, visitors will enjoy engaging experiences around every corner, testing their knowledge of innovation and hearing personal accounts from inventors.

Nation of Inventors is a must-see attraction for families with children, museumgoers interested in stories of innovation and invention, and visitors who are ready to rediscover Hagley.

Hagley posted a story about how the year-long delay if the exhibit due to flooding of the building allowed the addition of an iron of special significance. “It was the first American patent for an iron, the twenty-ninth patent issued to a woman in the United States, and the oldest known surviving model submitted by a woman.”


Joel Spivak is sharing this information on a zoom program of interest.

Central Electric Railfans’ Association presents:

Live via Zoom, October 14, 2022, 7:00 P.M. (Central Time)


While many of us are familiar with the electric interurban rail operations in the  United States, it is all too easy to forget that our Canadian neighbors also played host to a number of electric lines. Who can forget such favorites as the London & Port Stanley Railway with its former Milwaukee Electric cars, or the classic lines of the cars of the Montreal & Southern Counties Railway?

On Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., MCERA Ray DeGroote will show a selection of views of seven Canadian systems which continued service into the 1950’s, long enough that many color photos of his and other collectors are available. 

See also what cars remain today in museums to remind us of some large and some small enterprises that once were very close to us and continued in service long after many of ours were gone.

All are welcome for this second Friday of the month Zoom program.

Join us by clicking here:

Inland: The Abandoned Canals of the Schuylkill

Fairmount Waterworks Book Party & Exhibition Opening

Tuesday, October 11, 2022, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM

Please join Sandy Sorlien and other contributors to celebrate the launch of Inland, a new book of photographs, maps, and essays about the historic Schuylkill Navigation system and its mostly-hidden ruins. Oliver Evans chapter member Mike Szilagyi is a contributor to the project and the book.

Inland was published in hardcover by George F. Thompson Books, designed by Deborah Larkin in Philadelphia, and printed by Brilliant Graphics in Pennsylvania. Main Point Books will be on site with books available for purchase ($45).

An exhibition of prints and maps from the book will be on view in the Media Gallery through January 8, 2023.

Questions? Contact Sandy Sorlien at

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
640 Waterworks Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Use the link below to register for the event:

Tour of SMS Rail Lines Locomotive Shop in Bridgeport, South Jersey

an Oliver Evans Chapter/SIA event

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Time: 10:30 am – noonish
Place: SMS Rail Service, 513 Sharptown Road, Logan Township, NJ 08085

Number of attendees is LIMITED, so advance registration is required. To register, please send email to Reese Davis at, or call him at 610-692-4456.

Paul Harland, director of passenger operations, will show us over the coal-fired ALCO No. 9 steam locomotive and talk about the work that has been done in the locomotive shop to restore the engine to service for a tourist operation through Salem County.

The locomotive was built by the American Locomotive Co. in Schenectady, NY, in 1942, and was used to move military freight at Fort Dix, NJ. Retired by the U.S. Army in 1958, No. 9 was sold to Virginia Blue Ridge Railway (VBR) and was used in Virginia in freight service till 1964. Subsequently, it was purchased for tourist service on the New Hope & Ivyland RR (NH&I) in Pennsylvania, where it ran on and off until about 1981. In the mid-1990s the NH&I put No. 9 up for sale—and in 2009 Jeff Sutch, president of SMS Rail Lines, purchased it. Jeff Sutch, a lifelong railroader, had run the engine in the 1970s at the NH&I and had a soft spot for the locomotive.

Since then the engine has been restored at a cost of almost $1 million, in preparation for a return not only for freighting but also to pull tourists in restored antique cars, operating eventually as the Woodstown Central Railroad hauling passengers from Pilesgrove Twp to Swedesboro and back. The trips will commence at the end of this year, but on this tour we will get an early look at the engine before it leaves the shop. There is also a Baldwin diesel engine and passenger car in the shop.

Directions: From Philadelphia, cross the Walt Whitman Bridge and take 76 to 295 South. Stay on 295 for about 15 miles; take exit 10. At top of ramp take right fork toward Center Square and merge onto Center Square Road (County Rt 620); in about half a mile turn right onto Sharptown Road (Commerce Blvd is the left road—Sharptown Road on the right does not seem to be signposted) and continue to second driveway on the left after you cross the railroad tracks. There is a small sign for SMS there. (About 35-40 minutes)

From South Jersey, take 295 South to exit 10 toward Center Square then follow directions as above. (About 45 minutes from Burlington City)

From Philadelphia’s western suburbs, take 202 and 322 to cross the Commodore Barry Bridge. Once off the bridge, take 130 South for about 1.3 miles, then turn left onto High Hill Road and then, in about 1.8 miles, turn right onto Sharptown Road. The turn into SMS will be into the first of two conjoined driveways on your right, before the railroad lines. There is a small sign for SMS there. (About 35-40 minutes)

Up the Hills of East Falls: From Mill Town (Twice) to Suburb in City

Tuesday, October 4, 6 PM to 7:30 PM

presented by Steven J. Peitzman
Sponsored by the Preservation Alliance

Watch ONLINE via ZOOM from the safety and comfort of your home. A link with instructions will be provided two hours prior to this virtual lecture. 

The now submerged falls on the Schuylkill River, about five miles from central Philadelphia, once provided splendid scenery and excellent fishing (well-known to the Lenape, our predecessors). Several mills built as early as the late 1600s on the lower Wissahickon Creek and on Falls Run added industry to recreation and tourism. With the 19th century came a railroad, steam, and the immense Dobson Mills, which made blankets for the Union Army, and carpets for everyone else. The “Falls Village” became a busy, smoky mill town—”Falls of Schuylkill”–dense with workers’ rowhouses, churches, and breweries. But how did the renamed East Falls survive the closing of the mills, which at its peak employed 6000 women, men, and children, and find a new way to flourish?

Steven J. Peitzman, though partly retired, teaches at Drexel University College of Medicine and attends at a student-run free clinic. He is widely known as an historian of medicine, and is proud of his 2000 book on the history of Philadelphia’s Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania/Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Peitzman has resided just east or west of Wissahickon Avenue most of his adult life, so claims to be both Germantowner and Fallser. In recent years, as an active preservationist he has submitted several successful nominations to place significant buildings on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. He is active in the East Falls Historical Society and serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

$15 | General Admission

$10 | Alliance Member 

Students with ID, residents of the neighborhoods being presented, or individuals with financial difficulties free with email to

Click the link below to register and pay for the event.

You do not need to register for the organization or check the register for site box to complete the event request and pay for a ticket.

Henry Disston & The Development of Tacony

A presentation by Alex Balloon

Sponsored by the Preservation Alliance

Tuesday, September 27 at 6:00 pm

Watch ONLINE via ZOOM from the safety and comfort of your home. A link with instructions will be provided two hours prior to this virtual lecture. 

This talk will trace the development of the Tacony neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. Founded as a “company town within the City” by Henry Disston, Tacony became home to the world’s largest saw works. This planned community included housing, religious institutions, social organizations, and commercial developments. Tacony is home to a National Register Historic District and a number of locally-designated landmarks. The Tacony Community Development Corporation in partnership with the Tacony Historical Society and the Tacony Civic Association has worked to preserve and enhance the neighborhood through targeted revitalization efforts.

Alex Balloon is the former Executive Director of the Tacony Community Development Corporation. He has authored a number of historic nominations for Tacony Landmarks and worked to advance the most recent designation of the Disston-Taocny Waterfront Historic District. He has a background in Historic Preservation & Urban Redevelopment and a Masters Degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

$15 | General Admission

$10 | Alliance Member 

Students with ID, residents of the neighborhoods being presented, or individuals with financial difficulties free with email to

Go to this link to register for the presentation:–The-Development-of-Tacony

Roebling Chapter Presentation


With Professor Richard Haw

Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 6 P.M. 

Presented both in-person and online
Tickets are $10.
The lecture will be followed by a Book Signing.
Presented in partnership with The New York Landmarks Conservancy.

In this lecture, Professor Richard Haw, will discuss his book, Engineering America: The Life and Times of John A. Roebling. John Roebling was one of the nineteenth century’s most brilliant engineers, ingenious inventors, successful manufacturers, and fascinating personalities.

The book is the most comprehensive biography of John Roebling and the first in over 75 years. It is based on immense amount of original archival material that sheds light on many unknown aspects of Roebling’s life and narrates Roebling’s life, not just as an engineer, but also the places and times in which he lived.

Raised in a German backwater amid the war-torn chaos of the Napoleonic Wars, Roebling immigrated to the US in 1831, where he became wealthy and acclaimed, eventually receiving a carte-blanche contract to build one of the nineteenth century’s most stupendous and daring works of engineering: a gigantic suspension bridge to span the East River between New York and Brooklyn.

In between, he thought, wrote, and worked tirelessly. He dug canals and surveyed railroads; he planned communities and founded new industries. 

Like his finest creations, Roebling was held together by the delicate balance of countervailing forces. On the surface, his life was exemplary and his accomplishments legion. As an immigrant and employer, he was respected throughout the world. As an engineer, his works profoundly altered the physical landscape of America.

He was a voracious reader, a fervent abolitionist, and an engaged social commentator. His understanding of the natural world, however, bordered on the occult and his opinions about medicine are best described as medieval.

For a man of science and great self-certainty, he was also remarkably quick to seize on a whole host of fads and foolish trends. Yet Roebling held these strands together.

John Roebling was a complex, deeply divided yet undoubtedly influential figure, and this talk will provide an overview of not only his works, but also the world of nineteenth-century America. Roebling’s engineering feats are well known, but the man himself is not; for alongside the drama of large scale construction lies an equally rich drama of intellectual and social development and crisis, one that mirrored and reflected the great forces, trials, and failures of nineteenth century America.

Richard Haw is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. He is the author of The Brooklyn Bridge: A Cultural History and Art of the Brooklyn Bridge: A Visual History.

To register In-Person, please click here

To register Online, please click here

Tickets are $10.

The book can purchased in person at the lecture or online through the following link

The SS United States

The SS United States: The Hidden History of America’s Enduring Flagship
September 16 at 12:00 PM
A virtual presentation by Susan Gibbs

A national nonprofit organization, the SS United States Conservancy leads the global effort to save and repurpose America’s Flagship, the SS United States. The Conservancy raises public awareness and financial resources for the historic vessel’s maintenance, restoration and ultimate reuse. Through its curatorial collections, educational outreach, and digital exhibitions, the Conservancy works to ensure that the fastest ocean liner ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean remains an inspiration for generations to come. For more information about the SS United States Conservancy, visit or the Conservancy’s Facebook page.

Susan Gibbs is the SS United States Conservancy’s President and co-founder. She is the granddaughter of William Francis Gibbs, the SS United States’ designer, who directed plans for more than 60 percent of the nation’s wartime fleet during World War II and designed over 6,000 ships during the course of his career. She has given presentations throughout the country on the SS United States and maritime history, and she has appeared in multiple media outlets, including the NBC Nightly News, National Public Radio, CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, Agence France Press, Channel N24 (Germany), Fox & Friends, and Al-Jazeera America. She has also worked for over two decades in the philanthropic sector primarily on global women’s issues. She holds a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Brown University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Link for Registration for this free, virtual presentation:

This link will allow to register directly from this announcement. Click on the highligted register box, fill in the requested information, and click the box to accept the terms. FINALLY, the zoom link for the program will be sent the day of the meeting.