Harlem’s First Regatta

Jamieson, who is the owner of The Rowing Store in Florida, sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago with some questions regarding an old rowing medal that a friend of hers had come across. Jamieson writes,

The medal measures 2 3/4″ diameter, has been made as a brooch, is 1/8″ thick and of a silver coloured metal (could be silver?). There are no identifying marks on it, but it is in excellent condition. Engraving on the reverse: First/ Annual Regatta/ Harlem Rowing Association/ July 2 1873/ Four Oared Race/ Presented to/ A. W. Montgomery/ No. 3/ WINNER OF THE/ Grand Challenge Cup./ DISTANCE/ 1 MILE. TIME: 5.01.

What I have for you thus far follows: “The Harlem Regatta Association was started in 1873, and at that time comprised all the clubs on the Harlem River. The Regattas were held in the spring and fall. Clubs included Atalanta B.C., Nassau B.C., New York Athletic Club, New York R.C., Metropolitan R.C., Columbia College B.C., Union B.C., Nonpariel R.C.

The 1880 Executive Board included President, R. L. Neville; VP, C.G. Peterson; Sec. & Treas., J. T. Goodwin; G. McVickar, Jas. McCartney, W.G. Demarest, D. Roach; Referee, Richard Trimble; Timers, Lindsay Watson, A. Maehler. The course was generally from McComb’s Dam Bridge to Gate’s lumber dock, and was a 1 mile straight course.

A. Montgomery rowed for the New York Athletic Club and was considered one of the largest member in the club.”

From The History of American Amateur Athletics and Aquatics by Frederick William Janssen (published in 1888?).

Jamieson has also contacted rowing historian Bill Miller of Friends of Rowing History, who had some more information about A.W. Montgomery and his medal. Bill replies, “I have the July 3 New York Times article copied and attached. It reports the results of the race. It lists A.W. Montgomery racing in the Nassau four and winning. The Nassau Club was one of the largest and well established rowing clubs in America and much larger than the recently formed New York Athletic ‘Athletics’. I hope this helps zero in on AWM. Cheers – Bill Miller, Friends of Rowing History.”

I honesty do not have that much to add. There is more information about this race in Fred J. Engelhardt’s The American Rowing Almanac and Oarsman’s Pocket Companion, which was published in 1874, see copy here. I find it very interesting to see in The New York Times article that many of the prizes in the Harlem Regatta has the same names as the ‘Cups’ at Henley.

If any of you, readers have more information that you would like to share with Jamieson, please send me an e-mail and I will forward it to her (or send her an e-mail through her store).

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