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

The Centennial and the Museum School: The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art

thumb_Memorial Hall, opening day of the Centennial _1024

Memorial Hall, Philadelphia. Centennial opening day, May 10, 1876. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia Print & Picture Department.

Did you know that the Philadelphia Museum of Art began as a museum of industrial art? The museum, along with a school (now University of the Arts), was founded in 1876 in order to take advantage of the purchasing opportunities at the Centennial International Exhibition and was called the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA).

The Centennial International Exhibition (Philadelphia, 1876), America’s first world’s fair, was a showcase for American manufacturing and for Philadelphia, then one of the world’s manufacturing giants. Sara MacDonald will present on how PMSIA began and how both institutions evolved to what they are today.

Sara MacDonald has been a librarian in charge of the archives at the University of the Arts since 1987. She co-authored The University of the Arts (ISBN 973854521X) in 2006 with Eugene A. Bolt, Jr. She has presented the institution’s history at conferences and to the UArts community.

Monday, April 23, 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

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

Manayunk Sewer Detention Basin Tour


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

The Venice Island underground storage basin of the Philadelphia Water Department is an enclosed basin which temporarily stores diverted flow from the sanitary interceptor sewer during intense rain storms. The basin is capable of storing nearly four million gallons of water that is later pumped out and directed to a treatment plant. The underground storage basin is approximately 400 feet long, 75 feet wide and 25 feet deep and located under the current parking lot and basketball courts.

In addition to the various pumping facilities necessary for the management of water flow, this project includes various green features and many community oriented facilities such as a performing arts center, athletic courts, amphitheatre and large parking area.

Our tour will be privileged to witness one of the periodic flushings of the storage basin.

Our tour leader will be Michael D. Hengstler, Superintendent with the Collector’s System Flow Control Unit. Michael is a 28 year veteran of the PWD. He spent his first 25 years in the Fresh Water Pumping Unit, starting in the Electrical Maintenance Group and eventually promoting to Assistant Superintendent of Pumping.

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

PARKING: Kiosk parking on the Island near the Performing Arts Center. Cost is $4 for 2 hours which should be sufficient time for the tour.

BY TRAIN: Take SEPTA #R6 to Manayunk station, then a 5 block walk.

BY BUS: Take SEPTA #61 along Main St. from Wissahickon Transfer Station.

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

the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Philadelphia Piers 122 & 124

PR Pier 122-3

The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s

Philadelphia Pier 122 & Pier 124


Gregory Vlassopoulos, Jr.

On February 5th we heard Jim Rubillo speak about Philadelphia’s Hog Island Shipyard. In March we will hear another program related to South Philadelphia: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the PRR’s Philadelphia Piers 122 & 124. In this visual presentation, Gregory Vlassopoulos will explore the PRR’s transloading facilities in South Philadelphia’s Greenwich Yards, specifically, ore handling facilities at Pier 122 and coal export operations at Pier 124. The future state of these former PRR piers will be discussed, as will be Greenwich Yards overall- from birth to death to rebirth. It should be noted that much of Broad Street Station and the Chinese Wall, when demolished about 1953, wound up under Piers 122 and 124.

Gregory Vlassopoulos, Jr. is a technology solutions executive working with Office Depot to support clients in the Greater Philadelphia region. He is a member of multiple railroad historical organizations and has an affinity for the monumental part railroads played in building America from the industrial revolution to the present. His focus of research is from 1900 to 1962, climaxing with the end of the steam locomotive era. Gregory has a special allegiance to railroads of Greater Philadelphia, as well as the Baldwin Locomotive Works, where his immigrant grandfather worked as a gantry crane operator. He resides in South Philadelphia with his wife and two children.

Date: Wednesday, March 14, 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


This link will take you to some photographs and a bit of background on the piers. The site is the work of photographer Michael Froio.  Below is a bit more about his site. I hope you will explore more of it in leisure with pleasure.

“Through exploring both building and place within the American landscape, Michael’s work reveals an era where industry, wealth, and power impacted the land. His work examines the remarkable architecture and engineering projects for the benefit of the public as well as the remains of a post-industrialized nation in the back lots, wooded areas and small towns throughout the Northeast region. Represented here are three major projects: The Watershed Series is some of the earliest works, exploring the impact of man on the diverse landscape of the Delaware River Watershed. The Relic series highlights prominent historic buildings in the Philadelphia region that served the public for many years and have either been lost, restored or repurposed. Finally, the ongoing project From the Mainline examines the former Pennsylvania Railroad, once the largest railroad in the world. Highlighting its massive infrastructure and groundbreaking engineering accomplishments the project also considers the historic landscape it travels.”

Weather forecast good for Annual Dinner

The long-term weather forecast is in, and Friday the 19th looks good: well above freezing with little or no precipitation. If you’ve been considering going to the Oliver Evans Chapter SIA annual dinner at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern that evening, but were worried about conditions, you’ve been granted a reprieve by the weather and by the hotel. They have agreed to extend our registration deadline until the end of the day Wednesday, January 17. So get your registration to Larry DeYoung and don’t miss the exceptional program by Roger Thorne about aviation archeology at the pioneering Paoli-Main Line Airport (which was directly adjacent to the hotel where we’re having the dinner). The hotel will even accept last-minute registrations, so you can e-mail Larry at or call him at (610) 293-9098 and leave a message. Please also let him know if you will need a ride from the Malvern train station. The dinner is $50 per person, all inclusive (except for the cash—truly CASH—bar, no credit cards). 

Philadelphia’s Hog Island Shipyard: History, Impact and Legacy

Hogg Island Shipyards

Monday, February 5, 2018, speaker, Jim Rubillo

Hog Island is the historic name of an area southeast of Tinicum Township along the Delaware River, to the west of the mouth of the Schuylkill River. Philadelphia International Airport now sits on the land that was once Hog Island. In 1917, as part of the World War I effort, the US goverment contracted American International Shipbuilding to build ships and a shipyard at Hog Island. The project transformed a swampy bog to the world’s largest shipyard in just 10 months. The shipyard produced 122 transport ship in four years (1917 – 1921), and then vanished back into the mud. None of the ships were ready in time to participate in World War I, but many of them were involved in World War II. This presentation examines the growth and demise of the facility, as well as the environmental scars that were left behind.

Jim Rubillo is a retired college dean, professor and non-profit CEO. He is a well-travelled speaker having presented over 800 talks, at least one in every state and Canadian province. Jim has an intense interest in local history and now serves on the board of the Old York Road Historical Society. As a child, he played in the ruins of the Hog Island Shipyard.

Date: Monday, February 5, 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

           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

Annual Dinner & Program, Friday, January 19, 2018

MLA in high summer c 1940_RDT Crop

Main Line Airport

An Illustrated Lecture by

Roger D. Thorne, Board Chairman,

Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society

The Great Valley of Chester County, PA, once an agricultural breadbasket dating back to Colonial times, is today shared by up-scale residential housing and one of America’s leading high-technology corridors. But few realize that for a half century, within what is now East Whiteland Township’s Great Valley Corporate Center, stood a legendary airfield that contributed to the history of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aviation—both nationally and internationally.

The field, officially the Main Line Airport and called by some the Paoli Airport, was one of Pennsylvania’s earliest country aviation centers, and operated from the 1920’s into the 1970’s. During the 1930’s, research advancements in rotary-wing stability and control were developed on this property that would be later incorporated into the world’s first successful helicopter. The field served for decades as a flight training center for hundreds of fixed-wing pilots in both war and peace. In the uncertain early days of World War II, a Civil Air Patrol squadron was established at the Main Line Airport to provide desperately needed manpower and material to support the battle against marauding German submarines along America’s mid-Atlantic coast. And during the 1950’s-60’s, advanced rotary-wing innovations created at the airport contributed to the helicopter as we know it today. The importance of the Main Line Airport cannot be overstated, yet today virtually no trace remains.

Roger D. Thorne began researching the Main Line Airport in 2002. His in-depth knowledge of this place, its planes and its people, will open the eyes of even those who feel they well know the rich history of Philadelphia’s Upper Main Line.


DATE & TIME: Friday, January 19, 2018

5:30 Cash Bar  6:00 Buffet Dinner

7:00 Program

PLACE: Desmond Hotel, One Liberty Blvd., Malvern. located just off Rt. 202 at Rt. 29. Parking is free in the hotel lot.


        Iceberg lettuce salad, cavatelli pasta, grilled chicken breast, roast sirloin of beef, choice of  starch & vegetables, Desmond bread pudding, assorted cookies, rolls & butter, iced tea, hot Tazo tea, Lavazza coffee & lemonade.

COST: $50.00 per person. Send check by January 15th, payable to OE/SIA

MAIL TO: Larry DeYoung, Treasurer, 54 N. Waterloo Rd., Devon, PA 19333,  


RAIL SERVICE PICK-UP: We can offer to pick up anyone who wishes to ride SEPTA Regional Rail R-5 service to Malvern from train #9553, due in Malvern at 5:33. We will get them back to the station for the return journey. The hotel also offers a shuttle to/from the station if they catch an earlier or later train. Hotel phone number is 610-296-9800.

NAME:__________________________________________  PHONE:______________________

No. of Reservations @50 ea. = Amount enclosed $________