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 Completing the Picture
   


  Story and Photographs by Chris Poh



Riegelsville Inn in Riegelsville, Pa as seen in American Public House Review
Riegelsville Inn in Riegelsville, PA


Roughly twelve thousand years ago, those glacial and geologic forces that had been sculpting the land in this part of northeastern Pennsylvania for countless millennia seemed to have settled on a fairly consistent design for the path of the Delaware River. As the climate slowly warmed, those Paleolithic ancestors of the Lenape, who had once fed their families on mammoths and mastodons, would opt for less stressful sources of sustenance. As tundra and marshland gave way to hardwood forests, seasonal encampments were established along the Delaware where the fish were abundant, and the soils were more suitable for agriculture. And as daily existence became a tad more predictable, these former hunter-gatherers would establish a rich culture that would flourish until the influx of Dutch and English settlement during the 17th century.

By the time the former subjects of the Crown had completed their breakup with King George, only a handful of the Lenape remained in the area. The majority of those who were not the causalities of war and disease were forced to migrate west. The European point of view of man’s relationship to the natural world, which had already supplanted the native philosophy, would now be furthered by American ambition. And men like Benjamin Riegel would help to shape and define a young country. On landholdings located along both sides of the Delaware, Riegel would operate mills, construct housing, establish trade, and assume a major role in the civic life of those communities that sprang up as the direct result of his labors and accomplishments. 


Public Domain
Riegelsville Inn in Riegelsville, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Riegelsville Hotel in the early 1900's


Public Domain
Canal through Riegelsville, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Delaware Canal as it traveled through Riegelsville, PA


Benjamin Reigel House in Reigelsville, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Benjamin Riegel House


In 1832, Benjamin Riegel left his home in New Jersey and took up residence along the Pennsylvania shoreline of the Delaware in a fine new structure that he built on part of a 69 acre tract that he had purchased a decade earlier. In that same year, a portion of the waters diverted from the river began to flow into the sixty mile long manmade channel that ran from Easton to Bristol. This vital transportation link was part of a greater system of waterways that would deliver goods and Anthracite coal to cities and towns throughout the east. The canal brought an explosion of commerce and industry to those once sleepy villages and settlements that lay along its course. Once again Benjamin Riegel would be at the forefront of growth and development. And while the town’s expanding population could thank him personally for a place to live, a place to work, and even a place to worship their God. It was another equally prominent and respected member of the Riegel family that gave them a place to play. In 1838, Benjamin’s uncle (who carried both the same first and last name) opened the Riegelsville Inn.


Roebling Bridge across the Delaware River in Riegelsville, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Roebling Bridge across the Delaware River in Riegelsville, PA


Today this absolutely enticing historic pub and restaurant is one of only a handful of establishments on either side of the Delaware that has remained intact and in operation since its original founding. And with the river at its front door, and the canal at its back, there are few locations anywhere that can boast a more impressive setting.


Taproom at The Reigelsville Inn in Reigelsville, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Gorgeous and intimate taproom


Over the fireplace in the inn’s cozy and congenial taproom hangs a rather stately portrait of the gentleman that built the Riegelsville. And though there are a few pictures scattered about the building that convey a sense of early American rural life, the majority of available wall space has been dedicated to the work of Beth Brader. Not only is this kind and caring individual an extremely capable bartender, but apparently she is also the de facto artist-in-residence. While I was well aware of her skills with a shaker, for the better part of my patronage I had no knowledge of her profound talents with a brush. As is so often the case, we know people only by what they do—and not by who they are.


Benjamin Reigel as seen in American Public House Review
Benjamin Riegel



Beth Brader as seen in American Public House Review
Beth Brader




An assortment of Beth's paintings:


Painting by Beth Brader as seen in American Public House Reviewe


Painting by Beth Brader as seen in Americab Public House Review


Painting by Beth Brader as seen in American Public House Review


Painting by beth Brader as seen in American Public House Review


The achievements of a person’s past are merely a partial print. The results of their creativity or craftsmanship allow us only to speculate and make assumptions. In truth, I have no real insights as to the good or bad about the man whose portrait hangs above the fireplace. But it is because of his efforts that I get to raise my cup with some truly wonderful souls in the confines of this great pub. But moreover, I get to experience both the art and the artist—and that is probably as close as any of us ever get to completing the picture!



Riegelsville Inn

10 -12 Delaware Road

Riegelsville, Pennsylvania 18077

610-749-0100


http://riegelsvilleinn.com





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