2014: The Year of the Schuylkill

A Philadelphia Water Department worker checks intake mechanisms near the Belmont Pumping Station along the icy Schuylkill in Philadelphia, Tuesday Jan. 7, 2014. (JACQUELINE LARMA / Associated Press)

After placing a close second last year, the Schuylkill River has been named Pennsylvania's 2014 River of the Year.

Along with the title, the Schuylkill River Greenway will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to fund recreational and educational activities on the river all year. Those activities will include a river sojourn, new padal/peddle events; a bike tour series on the Schuylkill River Trail, and a free, commemorative poster, according to a press release from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which funds the contest.

The Schuylkill is 128 miles long and flows southeast from Schuylkill County through Montgomery County and Philadelphia, until it meets up with the Delaware. Once one of the most polluted rivers in the country, it bounced back after a major government cleanup project, beginning in the 1940s when they drudged millions of tons of coal culm from the riverbed.

The Schuylkill is now a source of drinking water for 1.5 million people, and a fun recreation spot for rowers, paddlers, bikers, fishermen, photographers, painters, and anyone who enjoys a nice scenic view.

The Schuylkill received 5,527 votes (42 percent) in online polling from Nov. 25 – Dec. 27.  The next finalists were the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers, 21 percent; Ohio River, 12 percent; Brodhead Creek Watershed, 12 percent; and West Branch of the Susquehanna,12 percent.

In 2013, the Schuylkill lost to Pittsburgh's Monongahela River, by less than 1 percent.  The Schuylkill previously was named River of the Year in 1999.