Sunday, July 12, 2009

From 1859: Regatta at Middletown

This article is from the July 6, 1859 Hartford Courant. 
In an era prior to baseball and football, rowing competitions were extremely popular, drawing thousands of spectators.   The painting is by Thomas Eakins, from about 1873.

The Regatta at Middletown was witnessed by a very large crowd from abroad, there being quite a number present from this city, many of whom remained to see the fireworks, returning on the L. Boardman at their conclusion.  Several Hartford boys were a little too late for the boat and found themselves obliged to stay over till yesterday.

The race was a very interesting and well contested one.  There were present--from Hartford: The Alliotus, Atalanta, Una, Wah-ta-wah, and Osceola; from New Haven the Atalanta and Olympia; and from Middletown, the Annawana.

The distance rowed was three miles; two races, one for six-oared boats, and over; the other for four-oared boats. The prizes for the first race were $50 and $30, for the second, $40 and $20.  The Alliotus, manned by a crew of Glastenbury fishermen, including the famous 
Fox brothers, won the first race, but was ruled out, the express conditions of the trial being that only amateur boatmen should engage.  

The race came off at about 3 1/2 o'clock, with the following result:

The Annawana, of Middletown, won the second race to their great credit.  The crew had only been organized six days, but their pluck and the excellence of their boat brought them in ahead.

The Atalanta, of Hartford, pulled six oars in the first race, immediately following the exertion by pulling four oars in the second, when they took the $20 prize.  

It will be seen that the Yale boys carried off the $90 prizes in the first race.

During the regatta a fire broke out in an unoccupied brick store-house near the steamboat landing, but was extinguished with little difficulty.  

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