The Turtle Rock Lighthouse

The lighthouse is Host’s signature holiday gift. Every year, we select a different lighthouse, each one serving as an icon of one of the ports we serve. This year, we’re featuring the Turtle Rock Lighthouse in Philadelphia, PA.

Host agents have long had a presence in Philadelphia, first serving the port in 1999 and opening an office there in 2016. Host has also operated the Eco Energy ethanol terminal there since 2015.

The Turtle Rock Lighthouse stands along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, PA.

In 1821, the Fairmount Waterworks and Dam was created on the river to provide a water source for Philadelphians. The dam directed water to a newly constructed millhouse, where it turned large waterwheels to power the pumps feeding water to the storage tank located at the top of Fairmont.

With its impressive architecture and innovative design, the Fairmount Water Works attracted admirers from near and far. Transforming the river from a tidal stream to a freshwater lake, the dam provided the town with recreational advantages as well such as sculling and ice skating. Boating clubs opened along the river’s edge, and the area became known as Boathouse Row.

The Schuylkill was also part of an extensive canal system and home to ships of the Schuylkill Navigation Company, which transported coal from upstate Pennsylvania to Philadelphia.

Due to all the new maritime activity, the Fairmont Park Commissioners recognized the need to construct a lighthouse for the security and safety of people enjoying the waterway. They decided to build it near Turtle Rock, a formation of rock above the boathouses, shaped like a giant tortoise shell.

The lighthouse was constructed by Frank Thurwanger at the total cost of $2,663. The brick lighthouse supports a hexagonal lantern room surrounded by an octagonal walkway, originally constructed to house a gas lamp.

The building, known as the Sedgeley Club, wasn’t added until 1902. It was designed by Arthur H. Brockie to encompass the lighthouse. Operating as an athletic facility until World War II, the building is now a women’s club, hosting numerous social gatherings as well as fundraising events that help maintain the historic boathouse and the treasured Turtle Rock Lighthouse, which is only lit on special occasions.

In 1990, after successful fundraising efforts, the lighthouse’s wooden balustrade and newel posts were replaced, the crumbling brick was re-pointed, and the beacon was electrified.