Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Red Dragon!

Red Dragon Boat Shed on the Delaware

Actually, there's no real dragon living along the Delaware River.  But the Red Dragon Canoe Club, housed within the stately Shipman Mansion, does indeed exist.  Organized more (much more, in fact) than one hundred years ago, the club continues to thrive, though amidst the challenges and transformations of the kind that affect many social organizations formed with a dedicated purpose in mind, in a previous and very different time.  For many years located on the Delaware River in Edgewater Park, more or less tucked within the geographical slot formed between Beverly and Burlington, the club has an active membership, provides regular local-interest programming for members, neighbors, and the general public, and perhaps most especially, has a wonderful collection of boats, paintings and prints, and other river-related artifacts commemorating the history of the organization and illustrating life along the river -- from the boater's perspective, for the most part.  Here is a description of the club, lifted directly from the home page of their website:

The venerable Red Dragon Canoe Club, founded in 1883, is one of the oldest boating clubs in the United States. Sailing, paddling, dinners and picnics round out an active social calendar, with something for the everyone in the family!
The Red Dragon is housed in the Shipman Mansion, a Second Empire style mansion dating from the Civil War. The Red Dragon Canoe Club is a member run, not for profit club. It is situated on six acres of beautiful waterfront in Edgewater Park, New Jersey.  

Racing Canoe on Display at the Red Dragon Canoe Club

For those interested in learning more, the Red Dragon's (the club, not the mythical beast) website can be found here.

The Shipman Mansion, Home of Red Dragon Canoe Club

I mentioned events and programming.  These can be explored on the club's website, but include an annual club Mess, an annual shad roast, music and speaker programs, and more.  The shad roast is schedules in spring, during the annual shad run up the Delaware.  I attended the club's shad roast this year, hanging out with members who built and tended the fire, and roasted the shad, and staying on for dinner later.

Roasting Shad at Red Dragon Canoe Club, 2015

For my purposes now, however, I want to touch very briefly on yet another feature of the Red Dragon -- the skill and creativity of its members.  Clubs like this seem to inspire new as well as established forms of artistic expression, or attract people with special interests, knowledge, and skills who then continue to do their work, but now focusing on the more specialized context offered by the club.  The Red Dragon Canoe Club is no exception.  There are skilled canoeists among the membership, some canoe builders and boat builders and boat restorers, a handful of artists and model builders, among others.  Ed Leaf, past commodore of the club, is a dedicated ship model builder with a vast and detailed knowledge of ships and ship models.  Among his many models is a passenger boat that at one time plied the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Burlington.  His work is finely and intricately detailed, and historically accurate.

Boat Model by Ed Leaf, Edgewater Park
      More later...

No comments:

Post a Comment