The Three Clubhouse Fires

Camden Daily Telegram (Camden, New Jersey)16 Dec 1889, Mon Page 1


Two Canoe Clubs Wiped Out of Existence.
A Midnight Blaze Discovered by a Reporter While the Watchmen are Peacefully Sleeping - The Fire Department Does Good Work - A Loss of About $5,000 - One Club Insured.

A destructive fire early this morning gutted six of the boat houses at the head of Second street. Forty canoes and their rigging which had been put up in them for the winter, were also destroyed. the loss is between $4,000 aud $5,000, while the insurance will not amount to more than half of this sum.


The origin of the fire Is a mystery, although many claim that it is the work of an incendiary, but they will not state whom they suspect. A watchman on the ground this morning gave it as his opinion that the blaze was caused either by the explosion o( a lamp, the dropping of a lighted cigar or by spontaneous combustion. He said that it was most likely the former, as the owners of the boats generally were in the houses on Sundays during the winter, and frequently used lamps, which were sometimes very carelessly left burning. He stated that be went off duty at twelve o'clock last night, and saw a light in the burned houses but thought nothing of it, not supposing it was a fire. It was not on his beat, anyhow, he added, and the watchman paid to look after the boat houses bad gone to bed, so he supposed everything was all right.


From all accounts none of the watchmen employed to look after the new buildings and other unprotected property in that locality were about. Consequently the flames had been burning fully half an hour, and had gained considerable headway before they were discovered by Daniel M. Hassett, a Ledger reporter, who was just returning home from work. He turned in an alarm and then attempted to wake up some ol the sleeping watchmen, and for his actions seems to have gained the enmity of those men, for the one in charge of the ruins this morning said that had it not been for the police and firemen, Mr. Hassett would have received a severe drubbing. This watchman openly boasted that be felt like "licking" the alert reporter himself and would have turned is back if anyone else had attempted it.
Reporters who applied to the watcn man tor information that morning, were surilly ordered off tbt slip, and it was only after securing an order from Superintendent Moore in charge of Wilson Ernst's buildings, that a TELEGRAM reporter was allowed to investigate the fire.

The firemen arrived very promptly and did most effective service, the fire being under control in a short time and the adjacent boat houses and buildings saved.


The burned structures are located on the east side of the slip that extends into tne river at the bead of Second street. They were occupied by the Red Dragon and Quaker City Canoe Clubs and owned by Wilson Ernst, who purchased them recently from Mr. Hall. He intended removing them shortly to make room for extensive building operations. The scene this morning was a desolate one. as the owners of the destroyed canoes, with gloomy faces, scratched around in the ruins of their charred canoes, burnt sails, broken spars and half burned clothes, trying to save something from the wreck.

They were all true sportsmen and mourned not the monetary loss to much as they did the trim little crafts that had afforded so much pleasure during the summer months. There were many crack boats among those lost and they will be hard to replace.

A member of the Quaker City Club said that they lost nineteen canoes. but two of their fleet, which were outside, being saved. They were all insured, however, and the members were all happy over this fact. Their only loss is the personal effects they had in the buildings.


The best boats destroyed were the Papoose and A. L. Y. S., owned by W. S. Grant, Jr.; the Nenemoosha, owned by S. H. Kirkpatrick; the Muriel, owned by J. A. Inglis; the Water Witch, owned by J. P. Warr, Jr.; the Valkyr and Antic, owned by Francis Thebault, all of Philadelbia. These boats were all valued at $150. the others cost from $50 up.
The Red Dragon Club also lost all its best boats, it being estimated that twenty out of thirty were burned. Very few, if any, of them were insured.

Among those lost was the Ramona, the champion canoe of 1888-9, which won all the races on Lake George and other regattas. This canoe was built in Canada and was called the crack Canadian boat. It was owned by F. H. Bendig and A. P. Childs, and was valued at $175. They purchased it in Omaha. The beautiful outlines of the trim little craft could be plainly discerned this morning as its charred timbers lay in a mass of ruins surrounded by a group of mournful canoeists. "Well, that's the last of the Ramona," said one of them with a sigh, as be picked up an axe and crushed in its trail side. "She was a beautiful craft, and we'll never see her likes, but this'll teach us a lesson. We'll insure our canoes after this, anyhow."

Another champion boat that was burned was the Lassie, which defended the cup against the English canoes. She was owned by Dr. Harry Lamont, of the University Hospital, Philadelphia. This boat was equally as valuable as the Ramona.

Among the other Red Dragon canoes lost were the Waif, valued at $75, and owned by A. B. Fenimore; the I. O., which was Commodore Charles B. Hague's flagship; the Valeska, owned by H. M. Cramer; the Cigarette, owned by F. W. Noyes; the Octupus and Rambler, owned by Dr. Tuttle: the Mermaid, owned by D. A. McCormlck; the Picnic, owned by W. Norgrave, and the Mohawk, owned by Mr. Binder.

The Morning Post (Camden, New Jersey) · 25 Nov 1890, Tue · Page 1


Second Street Boat Houses Again Burned.

The boat houses at the head of North Second street, this city, were burned to the ground at 1.30 p. m. todlay and the Red Dragon Canoe Club, Quaker City Canoe Club, Active Yacht Club, Hildah Yacht Club and a number of private boat and yacht clubs are homeless wanderers. The buildings were two stories in height and consisted of 36 boat houses, the dimensions of each being 8 by 20. The first floors were used for the storage of boats, and the second floors were handsomely furnished for club rooms.

About 1.20 this afternoon two boys, Clarence Myers, residing at 219 Byron street, and Samuel Bulmer, of 925 North Front, saw smoke coming out of No. 28 boat house in the middle row. They immediately notified the Segel Manufacturing Company who immediately telephoned the fire department.

Foreman Mason, who has charge of the business of Mr. Wilson Ernst, the owner of the boat houses, pulled the alarm at.1.25 p. m. No. 2 and 4 engines responded, and when they arrived, the whole structure being of frame, was in a light blaze. The people in the vicinity turned in to save the boats and personal property and most of the boats were gotten out without damage. Most of the personal property, however, was burned, the estimated loss of which will reach $10,000. Mr. George F. Work, President of the late Bank of America, had considerable personal, property stored in one of the houses. The Red Dragon Canoe Club lost a silver set valued at $50. (Some of the property of this club that was saved was stolen.) Our genial Police Officer Cale Williams loses a boat valued at $50. A reporter in conversation with Foreman Mason, was told by him that there is no doubt but that the fire broke out in boat house No. 28, and the last man who was seen about the houses was the man who lived in that house. Mr. Mason said that Mr. Ernst had sometime ago ordered the man to get out because he had got behind in his rent, and had sold his boats. The insurances were placed by C. H. Felton Co., who say that the buildings are fully covered.

The Times Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 10 Apr 1892,Sun • Page 14 <



The Canoeists Recovering From the Disastrous Fire in Camden by Which They Recently Suffered -

New Clubs Formed and Regattas in Prospect.

The beautiful spring weather of tlie past week has sent a glow of expectation through the veins of all local canoeists and already preparations and arrangements for the coming season are engaging earnest attention. Visions of plenty of good sport, hard paddling and right pleasant outings are now constantly beforo the canoeists' eyes and the first breath of summer is eagerly looked for. The outlook of the season is unusually bright. Several new clubs have been organized, new members have joined the old ones and this season the sport will experience an impetus unknown to it for years.

Since the late disastrous fire, which destroyed the whole of the club house and properties of the Quaker City and Red Dragon Canoe Clubs, canoeing has apparently been on the wane as far as Philadelphia is concerned. This year it has jumped into new life and the fervor which every local canoeist displays promises by the end of the season to have placed the sport in a higher position among aquatics than it has ever before attained.


Canoeing possesses many charms unknown to other aquatic sports. In the first place it is entirely free from the slightest taint of professionalism. Canoe cruising cannot become professionalized and even in the races there is little inducement for thoso interested to offer prizes of sufficient value to breed professionalism. The pleasures of canoeing have boon published alike by artist and author, and as an easy, available and economical mode of locomotion over water highways the canoe cannot bo surpassed.

Among the new clubs which have been organized this year the Mignononus, perhaps, takes the first position. This club was started with the following charter members : M. D. Wilt, Dr. Thomas Buckingham, Charles Elliott and J. A. BartCH, and since its organization, scarcely throe months ago, it has increased its membership surprisingly. For a club house the Mignononus has secured the old quarters of the Quaker City Canoe Club, at Cooper's Point. This, however, is to bo only a temporary headquarters. The club proposes soon to build, at a cost of about $2,500, an elaborate house with space for thirty canoes, the location to be at Cooper's Point in proximity to the present headquarters. The plans are already in the hands of the architect.


On Decoration Day the Mignononus will open its season with an invitation regatta, to consist of five regular events and one special one. These events will be a single paddling race, one mile straightaway ; a tandem paddling race, one mile straightaway ; an upset paddling race 200 yards, an unlimited sailing race three miles, a sailing upset half a mile, and a war canoe race half a mile.

There will be first and second prizes for each event, a prize for each man of the winning war canoe crew and an appropriate banner for the club. To a spectator there is perhaps no aquatic sport so interesting as cauoe racing, and particularly the upset races, which are in addition extremely laughable. In these races all contestants are given signals to capsize their canoes and then to right them, regain their seats and continue paddling.

Of the older-established clubs the Red Dragon will show up remarkably well this yoar. This club possesses an eventful history. It was established in 1883, with headquarters at Camden. In 1887 it was reorganized, the Keystone Canoe Club being amalgamated with it. the club house at that timo was located at Cooper's Point, Camden, but the club was increasing so rapidly it was deemed advisable to look for larger quarters.

On the eve of moving a fire occurred and destroyed the whole of the fleet, the club house and everything the club possessed. Undaunted by this misfortune the Red Dragons immediately commenced to rebuild. New canoes were ordered, and at the commencement of the next season the club possessed a finer fleet and was on a firmer basis than before the fire. By a strange coincidence, in the very same month of the year twelve months after another fire occurred, and although on this occasion the canoes wore saved the remainder of the club's property, together with the club house, was again destroyed.


After this the members began to imagine Camden an unlucky spot and removed to Bridesburg, where they built a pretty little club house (Which also burned). The distance from Philadelphia caused a number to resign and the majority seemed to lose interest in the club. This interest has, however, gradually revived, and at the last meeting, held about three weeks ago, the purser, Alvin S. Fcnimore, announced that there was more money in the treasury then than at any one time before.

The Red Dragons will also open their season on Decoration Day by giving a club regatta at Bridesburg, which will consist of a sailing race for the club trophy cup, a tandem paddling race and an ordinary single paddling race, and on July 4 they will hold a meet of the A. C. A. canoeists at Delanco, on the Delaware. Several members of this club are making a departure in the way of canoes and have ordered St. Lawrence river skiffs to be built for them. These skiffs they will rig and sail as canoes. St. Lawrence skiffs are entirely open and are usually sailed without rudders, but those ordered by the members of the Red Dragon Club will be fitted with rudders.


The Philadelphia Canoe Club, which, in addition to being the oldest, is also the only chartered canoe club in the city, is by no means behindhand in preparing for the coming season.

This club at present possesses a fleet of about twenty-five canoes. The members are enthusiastic over the prospect of the coming season and anticipate a most successful one in every way. The date for the spring regatta has not yet been fixed, but it will be held some time in June, and a feature of it will be the appearance of two canoes designed by one of the members of the club and built under the personal supervision of Captain Ursor, of Bridesburg. These canoes will contest for the club trophy. the officers for the present year are: Commodore, S. H. Kirkpatrick; purser, D. L. Wostcott, M. D.; secretary, John A. Ingles ; quartermaster, Francis Thilbault, and treasurer, William J. Haines.

The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) • 14 Nov 1894, Wed • Page 8

To Revive Interest In Canoeing.

It appears after all that canoeing tn Philadelphia, which was In danger of taking a back seat, will be very much alive next season. The Red Dragon Canoe Club have, after careful consideration, abandoned set regattas, and In future will have races every Saturday throughout the season for a special prize presented by the club to the winner of the majority of the heats in each Class. Commodore Harry McCormick said yesterday: "Several new boats will be added to the fleet during the coming winter.

Joseph Murray, one of our members, is rear commodore of the American Canoe Association. Without doubt the Atlantic Division (A. C. A.) annual meet will be held at Delanco on the Delaware next year. The new class of fifteen feet sailing length will receive some pretty models to add to its number. Morris D. Wilt, a very prominent member of the Red Dragon Canoe Club, is building a new racing canoe of an improved type with which he hopes to win the A. C. A. trophy for 1893."

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) • 23 Mar 1899. Thu


The Red Dragon of Philadelphia Loses its Home by Fire.

Word has been received by the local canoeists that the handsome clubhouse of the Red Dragon Canoe Club, on the Delaware, between Wissinoming and Bridesburg, at Philadelphia, was practically destroyed by fire Tuesday afternoon. There were about twenty-five or thirty canoes and boats in the house when the fire was discovered. These were all taken out safely by the janitor and neighbors. The building is a spacious old colonial house, three stories high. It was formerly known as the old Morris mansion, and is owned by Casper W. Morris, who lives at Bryn Mawr. The loss, which is covered by insurance, is estimated at $2,000.

The Red Dragon is the best-known of Philadelphia canoe clubs in Trenton, and its members have been hospitably entertained by the Park Island Canoe Association, at Park Island. The Trenton canoeists in turn have visited the Red Dragon in their Philadelphia home and have contested with them in their annual regattas. Of the Eastern canoe clubs none are better known at the annual meets of the American Canoe Asociation, where canoeists gather from all parts of the country, than the Park Island, of this city, and the Red Dragon, of Philadelphia.

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