Schuylkill River: The History. The Clean-up. The Movie. Attend the premier

The Schuylkill River has been central to the lives of  Native Americans and colonists, Revolutionary War soldiers and industrialists, and modern day Pennsylvanians, who continue to walk along it, paddle down it, and, indirectly, drink from it.

The Schuylkill’s story – and the story of the region it runs through – are the subject of a new PBS documentary. This Sunday, March 21, a premier screening of the film will be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Revolutionary River is episode one of a series that will highlight various National Heritage Areas in the United States, called Our National Heritage. When the series is complete, The Revolutionary River and the other films will be broadcast on public television stations nationwide. The Revolutionary River will also be available to educational institutions throughout the region.

The 47-minute film was produced for public television by award-winning Telemark Films. The film was made on behalf of the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, in partnership with the William Penn Foundation, the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Environmental Resources.

One of the goals of the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area is to educate the public about the historical and cultural significance of the Schuylkill River region. This film enables us to achieve that goal in a format that will be interesting and accessible to a mass audience,” said SRHA Executive Director Kurt Zwikl in a printed statement. 

Revolutionary River story begins with the river’s geologic formation. In addition to learning about the river’s role in history, viewers will learn about more modern issues it has faced, including the pollution that onces threatened to kill the Schuylkill and the remarkable transformation clean-up has made.

“The film uses the river to tell the story of Pennsylvania, and to some extent the story of the USA,” observed Philadelphia historian Joel Fry, one of the experts interviewed in the documentary.

Other experts in the film include: University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies Director Daniel Richter, American Revolutionary War historian and author Thomas Fleming, Philadelphia historian Torben Jenk, American Revolution Center Director of Collections and Interpretation Scott Stevenson, Superintendent of Valley Forge National Historical Park Michael Caldwell, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, Philadelphia Water Department expert Ed Grusheski and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Geologist Jay Parrish.

All proceeds from the premiere benefit the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, a non-profit organization that uses conservation, education, recreation, tourism, and cultural and historic preservation as tools for community revitalization and economic development. Cost is $65 per person and includes an opportunity to meet the film’s producer and director at a dessert reception at the nearby Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center.

To order tickets call Cindy Kott at 484-945-0200 or email  Some tickets will also be available at the door. Seating is limited. For more information visit

-Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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