A historical St. Lawrence Seaway

Scene of an Aug. 10, 1954, groundbreaking ceremony near Cornwall, Ontario, for the St. Lawrence River hydroelectric project. (Watertown Daily Times archives)

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Sailing Smoothly for 50 years: Antique Boat Museum Celebrates Birthday

Rebecca Hopfinger, executive director of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, stands with boating relics in one of the showrooms.

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Morrison Street Warehouse Once Deemed Modern


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Social club perseveres: Black River Valley Club a longtime symbol of Watertown’s history

The present Black River Valley Club building, to the far right, as it looked in 1910, approximately five years after its construction.

By Lenka Walldroff
Jefferson County Historical Society

Watertown was an affluent city during the late 1800s. Its citizens included wealthy business owners, industrial barons and bankers, granting it the distinction of having the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States – fertile ground for a private social club. It is during this period that the Black River Valley Club was born.

However, the club was not always known as such. What was originally the Union Club was organized in Watertown in 1876 and incorporated in 1891. The name was changed to the Kamargo Club for a brief time and finally the Black River Valley Club in January 1905. Although few surviving records having to do with the original Union Club exist, given the socio-economic status of Watertown during the 1880s, one cannot help but speculate that Watertown’s Union Club might have in some way been associated with the prestigious Union Club in New York City – the second oldest private club in the United States dating back to 1836.

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