Name of interviewee: Willis Rivinus
Date of birth/age at interview: 1928/86
Interviewer: Jack Donohue
Interview date: December 9, 2014
Interview location: Rivinus home
Interview length: 35 minutes
Time span discussed: 1960 until present day, 2014
Summary: Will, a long time strong supporter of the Friends of the Delaware Canal (FODC), recounts the history of the organization. Many of the personalities who loved the canal and believed in its preservation are brought to life and their constant efforts are documented. We get a ‘behind the scenes’ report of the Friends successful efforts to gain local, state, and national recognition. Although modest about his role, it has to be said, Will was one of the leaders pouring countless hours of work (and fun due to their spirit) into making our canal and park the friendly site it is today and we trust will be in future years.
00:00 – introduction
01:00 – books about the Delaware Canal, involvement with the canal
01:30 – walking the 60 miles of the canal, falling in love with the topography of the land, its vegetation, and the 300 year history of the area, recreation
03:30 – walking towpath prompted writing of Guide to the Delaware Canal; most of his books available on STHS web site
04:17 – story of Hal and Sarah Maynard Clark, area south of Centre Bridge named for him, Hal promoted canal and towpath
06:55 – story of Cuttalossa resident William Frances Taylor, artist and first president of the Delaware Valley Protective Association; state took over the canal
08:50 – 1955 flood damaged the canal, state repaired
09:37 – in 1982 Betty Barr and Betty Orlemon founded the FODC; Susan Taylor hired as executive director, her phenomenal work
10:45 – found the canal’s symbol, sheet steel metal cut out, at Tow Path House in New Hope
11:59 – stories of tourist canal boat business, Pete Pastousos, George Schweickhardt, George Fernandez
14:40 – three things lacking for canal boats running in 2014: water, mules, and canal boats
17:03 – National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark recognition of the canal in 1974 and 1978; Boy Scouts of America names tow path official hiking trial in 1976; designation of Delaware and Lehigh Navigation Canal National Heritage Corridor and a Pennsylvania State Heritage Park; recognitions save the canal
19:14 – Delaware and Lehigh Heritage office working on Lehigh Canal; much of canal area sold to individuals, original path now hard to follow
20:40 – Delaware Canal towpath a designation as National Recreation Trial in 1990; helps protect and preserve it
21:20 – 1988 to 1991 Take Pride in Pennsylvania campaign, FODC recognized all four years; 1990 Take Pride in America award; over a million visitors each year
24:03 – Lantz Metz, canal historian, encyclopedic knowledge of the canal and Bethlehem Steel Works, collected old records, reproduced film of the canal
26:10 – served on board of FODC 10 to 15 years, developed lectures, collected 35 mm slides of canal paintings by famous artists, canals that crossed the Delaware River
29:00 – 1886 Louis Comfort Tiffany canal barge trip, his canal photographs including mules Molly and Polly, some Tiffany photos in later editions of the canal guide
32:10 – “Faces and Places” program of FODC
32:30 – Maxi Muck, machine mostly paid for by FODC, to clear the canal
33:40 – concluding comments on preserving and improving the canal and park
Will Rivinus recording 1, auto show.
Will Rivinus recording 2, floods.
Will Rivinus recording 3, authored books.
Will Rivinus recording 5, restaurants.
Will Rivinus recording 6, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor