Paddlers, Schuylkill County celebrate Port Clinton landing improvements
PORT CLINOTN — The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area celebrated the newly renovated water landing at Port Clinton Park last week with a paddling event and ribbon cutting ceremony.
A group of 23 paddlers persevered through stormy conditions on June 3 to join the Port Clinton Paddle, a 7.5-mile adventure along the Schuylkill River. The paddling excursion began from Auburn and ended at the new and improved Port Clinton boat launch.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Schuylkill River Greenways staff, passionate paddlers, representatives of U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser’s office, along with Schuylkill County Commissioners Gary Hess, George Halcovage Jr., and Barron Hetherington.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate the new improvements of the Port Clinton Park and kayak launch. The Port Clinton Borough is a true Heritage Area treasure with the convergence of the Schuylkill River Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Schuylkill River all in one spot which offers quintessential Pennsylvania hospitality, and the best candy store around!” said Elaine Paul Schaefer, Schuylkill River Greenways executive director.
The kayaking community of Schuylkill County heavily uses the Port Clinton Park landing and it was in desperate need of improvement. The previous landing was eroding and has now been transformed into a concrete and asphalt ramp for easier access to the river. The area also has new parking with the capacity for 22 cars, a new gravel drive from the parking area to the ramp, new fencing, a new entrance gate, new signage, and new trees in the area.
Schuylkill River Greenways has invested more than $100,000 in improvements to the area through funding from the William Penn Foundation, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Schuylkill County. Members of the Port Clinton Council, especially Council Member John Blackwell and Mayor Jeff Schappell, were instrumental in the planning and implementation of the improvements.
The improvements at Port Clinton Park are part of a larger Schuylkill River Greenways mission to improve public access to the river. Schuylkill River Greenways has installed or improved five boat launches along the river in the last two years.
After the ribbon cutting ceremony for the renovated launch, attendees enjoyed a cheesesteak dinner as a fundraiser for the Port Clinton Fire Company. Schuylkill River Greenways has a long-standing partnership with the borough and fire company through events such as the annual Schuylkill River Sojourn.
The Sojourn is a multi-day paddling trip down the Schuylkill River. Traditionally day one of the event starts in Schuylkill Haven and ends in Port Clinton. Because adjustments were made to the 2021 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Sojourn won’t begin in Schuylkill County. The community can still participate in the 2021 event which will begin from Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township on July 31 and end in Philadelphia on Aug. 4. People can paddle one day or multiple days. For more information, visit schuylkillriver.org/sojourn.