Hidden River is focused on my exploration of and relationship with the Schuylkill River. I’ve lived near the Schuylkill River for nearly my entire life. Just as it was a foundational boundary for the city of Philadelphia, it functioned as a boundary as a kid of a line I shouldn’t lightly cross. Over the last few years my work has taken on a bit of my interest in the industrial history of Southeastern Pennsylvania, namely the iron industry and its function in building the economy of the area. As I began thinking about shifting gears in my work a bit, I started thinking about how I weave my way across the wandering Schuylkill River to do most things in my life. Whether it’s to head to teach class, visit family and friends, work, or in my cycling days use the Schuylkill River Trail as a way to get some long miles, I meander across the river multiple times.
The Schuylkill River is a historic river that has been home to some of the best and worst of human innovation. A vital source of food and water for indigenous people and settlers, the river also became one of the first in the country to be considered “dead” and subsequently revived. It has been home to industries like coal and iron as well as transportation innovation. Because of its wooded shorelines the so called “Hidden River” was also played an important role in the underground railroad and the wars fought in the region. As I continue to work on this project I’m planning to focus more directly on historical sites and communities in the surrounding area.