Pennsville Township Historical Society
86 Church Landing Road
Pennsville, NJ 08070
Phone: (856) 678-4453

Riverview Beach Park

The "Silver Grove" changed its name to "Riverview Hotel" in 1909. The tower on the roof was an observation point for the river. It was like a "widow's walk", which held lights for fishermen before lighthouses were built. The land at Riverview Beach Park was originally a farm with a tavern and a ferry, in 1845. It was leased to Elisha Wheaton for one year for $250.00. Food and drinks were served to travelers in the house until 1851, when it was moved into the building called the Silver Grove Hotel. (Later called Acton's Grill) The hotel was named for the sixteen silver maple trees between it and the river. Behind the hotel and extending to Front Street, was the Silver Grove picnic ground. The excursion boat "Delaware" brought people daily to the grove from Philadelphia. It took four hours to make the trip in 1875. The steamer "Major Reybold" also brought people to the grove as it made its trip from Philadelphia to Salem. Farmers began holding their picnics at the Park in 1889. A merry-go-round was brought in just for that day. It was small and moved by man-power only.

1914-W.D. Acton inherited the Riverview Hotel from his grandfather, Jacob Acton. He enlarged the Park to include swings, movies, picnic tables, and a dance hall. The steamer Queen Anne, a steel hull sidewheeler, replaced the Adelaide and was later replaced by the Wilson Line. The Queen Anne brought Philadelphians to Batten's Beach in Pennsville.

1917-A "Dentzel" merry-go-round was purchased.

1918-Alvis W. Wallace opened a novelty shop at the Park.

1922-William D. Acton purchased the Baker farm from Mrs. Hannah Baker Batten. Boats began daily excursions to the Park. On Decoration Day of 1922, the City of Camden, City of Wilmington, City of Chester and the City of Philadelphia made their first cruise down the river to Riverview Beach Park.

1923-New amusements were added to the Park. They included the Eli Ferris Wheel, Airplane Swing, Water Slide, Dry Slide, Toyland, and the Humming Bird. W.E. Hannah was Park manager and also responsible for the construction of many of the rides. Landscape crews were hired to plant rhododendrons, trees, and various types of flowers in the Park. The S.S. State of Delaware made a trial voyage on a cruise from Wilmington to Riverview Beach on June 11, 1923. The S.S. State of Pennsylvania made its trial run on June 12, 1923. Arrival times were 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. Departure times were 5:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M.

1924-New amusements were added to the Park. They included: The Old Mill, The Whip, Tilt-A- Whirl, Scooters, and a small train. The fifteen acre lake, which was originally the meadow, was dug and stocked with carp.

1925-The merry-go-round building was erected. The new carousel (fifty-two feet in diameter) had four rings of hand carved and painted galloping horses. It had sixteen fixed animals in the outside row: fourteen horses, one tiger, one lion, and 2 two-bench serpent seats. In the inside, there were three rows with forty-nine horses or "jumpers." There were approximately fourteen hundred lights with eighteen clown heads on the periphery. Numerous cherub heads, oval and square mirrors surrounded the inner core. The carousel was purchased in Germantown, Pennsylvania and was built by the William Dentzel Company. It was reported that only three carousels were in the United States at that time. The smaller carousel with its rings of stationary horse continued to operate at five cents a ride or six rides for a quarter. The larger, newer carousel charged ten cents a ride.

1955-January 1, 1955: The Wilson Line fleet and wharves were sold to the City Investing Company of New York City.
1957-The City Investing Company of New York City sold the Park and the S.S. State of Pennsylvania to Riverview Lines for $700,000.
1958-The Park was fenced in and admission was charged.
1960-The S.S. State of Pennsylvania, Flagship of the Wilson Line, was the final excursion steamer when its service stopped.
1961-The Wilson Line discontinued its boat services.
1967-Labor Day: The Riverview Beach Park closed. The carousel was purchased by the Sterling Forest Company in Tuxedo, New York. From there it operated until 1980, when it was auctioned off to various antique and carousel collectors.
1976-January 15, 1976: The Township Committee of Pennsville voted to purchase the Park for recreational use. The price was $950,000, with Green Acres funding half. The Park was made ready for the Bicentennial activities to be held on September 11,1976.
1977-The first annual Pennsville Septemberfest was held at the Park on Saturday, September 10, 1977.