The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has announced the release of "Along the Schuylkill River," a book of historic photographs that tells the story of the Schuylkill River, the canal and the communities along the river.

Published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its popular Images of America series, "Along the Schuylkill River" was authored by Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl and staff writer Laura Catalano, who researched photograph collections of numerous historical societies, museums and private collectors to find the oldest, rarest and most interesting images of the river and the region. The book will be sold at Schuylkill Haven Borough Day, Saturday, Sept. 26, and the authors will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a table in front of the historical society on St. John Street to sign books.

Included in the book are some of the earliest photographic images of the river, some of which have never before been published. Multiple images of the Schuylkill Canal are a highlight of the book, including old canal barges, mules, boatmen and the locks that are all part of an infrastructure that was once vital to the region and of which there are only scant remains.

"As a national and state heritage area, one of our goals is to educate people about the river as a valuable resource that played a key role in the development not only of this region, but also of our nation," Zwikl said. "We wrote this book with that goal in mind, and it provides a tool for us to introduce the history of the entire river in a way that is interesting and accessible to many people."

The book contains images from virtually every major town and city along the Schuylkill River, as well as most of the smaller communities. It includes photos of numerous "firsts" in America, including the first wire suspension bridge, opening day of America's first zoo, the first tunnel in North America and the country's first vineyard.

It also tells the story of the river's role in the Industrial Revolution, with pictures of iron and steel mills, textile plants and other factories that give a glimpse into what life was like across the region from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries. The book is now available for sale at area bookstores, and can also be purchased directly from the SRHA by calling 484-945-0200, or online at www.schuylkillriver.org [1].

In addition to appearing at Schuylkill Haven, Zwikl and Catalano have scheduled book signings at the following locations:

Sunday, Oct. 4, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, Philadelphia; Saturday, Oct. 10, Noon-3 p.m., Schuylkill River Festival, Riverfront Park, Pottstown; Sunday, Oct. 18, 1-3 p.m., Schuylkill Canal Association Open House, Locktender's House Lock 60, 400 Towpath Rd, Mont Clare.

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A muzzleloader seminar, "Hunting and Shooting Blackpowder Techniques," will be held today, with free sessions at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at Dixon Muzzleloader Shop, 9952 Kunkels Mill Road, Kempton. For information, call the shop at 610-756-6271.

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This year's Middle Creek Wildfowl Show will be held today and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve, Hopeland Road, Kleinfeltersville. For information, call the visitor center at 717-733-1512.

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Champion callers John Vaca, Dave Douville, Cory Dukehart and Ron Kee will be featured at "Waterfowl Weekend," today and Sunday, at Cabela's, Hamburg. Seminars pertaining to waterfowl hunting will be held both days from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and information is available on the Web site at www.cabelas.com [2] or by calling the store at 610-929-7000.

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A 3-D woods walk is open daily, through Sunday, Oct. 18, from dawn to dusk, at Bears Head Sportsmen, located off Interstate 81 Exit 134, Delano. For information, call the club at 570-467-0331 or e-mail docblazer@verizon.net [3]

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"Public Days" will be held, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the 33rd annual National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association Eastern Primitive Rendezvous, at Muddy Run Park, Holtwood. For information, call Bev or Jerry Heister at 717-533-3652, e-mail heister5@verizon.net [4] or access the National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation Web site at www.nrlhf.org/events [5]

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Complimentary, one-year memberships are being offered to first-time members by the National Rifle Association. According to an NRA spokesperson in the membership department, this is being done in an effort to familiarize firearms owners and shooters with the organization's services and programs.

To register for a complimentary NRA membership, access the special Web site at www.nrahq.org/nrabonus/accept-membership.asp [6].

Schuylkill County Friends of NRA banquet will be held Wednesday, Sept. 30, beginning at 5 p.m., at Schuylkill Mall, Frackville. For required pre-registration by Saturday, Sept. 19, call Mike McCord at 570-628-1382, Brian Tobin at 570-345-3300 or Heather Bixler at 570-622-5693.

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As part of its popular patch collection offerings, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has commissioned a new patch to promote the Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Accompanying the 4.5x3.5-inch patch is a Saf-T Plug that acts as a visual cue that the action of any pump-action or semi-automatic shotgun is open and safe. The two items sell for $7, including sales tax, and can be obtained at any Game Commission office or through "The Outdoor Shop" on the agency's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us [7]

To order online, click on "The Outdoor Shop" icon in the right-hand column of the homepage, then choose "Pennsylvania Game Commission Outdoor Shop" in the lower left-hand corner of the page, select "Merchandise" in the banner, select "Patches" in the left-hand column and scroll down to "2009 Mentored Youth Patch & PGC Saf-T Plug." Orders also can be made by calling 1-888-888-3459.

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Complimentary, one-year memberships are being offered to first-time members by the National Rifle Association. According to an NRA spokesperson in the membership department, this is being done in an effort to familiarize firearms owners and shooters with the organization's services and programs.

To register for a complimentary NRA membership, access the special Web site at www.nrahq.org/nrabonus/accept-membership.asp [6].