Tidal Schuylkill River
A vibrant tidal ecosystem
Bartram’s Garden is located on the banks of the Tidal Schuylkill River, which runs along the eastern edge of the site. With a half-mile of riverfront, ecologically significant tidal wetlands, and an accessible public dock, this is a place where everyone can connect with the river.
Explore the River
History & Ecology of the River
Archaeological evidence shows that humans have lived along the river seasonally for more than 5,000 years, due to the reliable source of food. While it is not clear if the Lenape had a single name for this river, some believe it was called Ganshowahanna, meaning “falling or roaring waters,” or Tool-pay Hanna, meaning “Turtle River.” Schuylkill, the name given by Dutch colonists, means “hidden river.”
This section of the Schuylkill River is tidal, so the direction of the flow reverses about every 6 hours, and the water level fluctuates by 5 to 7 feet, creating wetland and mudflats. Recognizing the wetland that bordered the river as invaluable, John Bartram and his neighbors maintained it in common rather than one individual owning the land. The freshwater tidal wetland next to Sankofa Community Farm was restored in 1997 and expanded in 2013. It now features native North American plants and provides important habitat for many creatures.
The Tidal Schuylkill flows into the Delaware River to the south, and the health of these waterways is vitally important. As part of the Delaware River Watershed, these rivers sustain life for hundreds of species, including humans. Over 40 species of fish abound, including channel catfish, white perch, common carp, bluegill, and American eel. The City of Philadelphia sources all of its drinking water from the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, and the entire watershed provides drinking water to 15 million people.
June 5, 2020
A Letter from Bartram's Garden to the PA Department of Environmental Protection
This post was written by Carly Schmidt and originally published by our partners at River Network. In the days of the Clean Water Act, the Lower Schuylkill River was a...Read More