Williamsport Riding Club
Joseph Rankinen was here.
The Williamsport Riding Club has been a well established organization dating back to the 1940’s. Although the current name came about in 1968, it was previously known as the Susquehanna Riding Club Inc. The first location of the club was on what is now part of the Loyalsock Township High School Complex. In 1955 the club sold the property to Loyalsock Township for development by the newly formed Loyalsock Township School District. The Susquehanna Riding Club then purchased property on what is now part of the Divine Providence Hospital campus in 1955 and subsequently sold the property the same year to the hospital in order to move to the current location of 2012 Poco Farm Rd.
For 20 years from 1943-1963 the Susquehanna Riding Club sponsored one of the top horse shows in the east entitled the Williamsport Charity Horse Show. Each year this three day show brought competitors from as far away as Missouri and Quebec to compete in divisions for Saddle Horses, Roadsters, Walking Horses, Hunter/Jumpers, Shetland and Hackney Ponies, Western, Morgan, Equitation and Parade divisions. The show profits were donated to local organizations including the Cerebral Palsy Fund (1956) and the Lycoming County Chapter for Retarded Children Inc. (1958). Reserved box seating was available for purchase along with dinner parties to help with the fundraising. The show was sponsored by many local businesses including the Sun-Gazette, L.L. Stearns, Stroehmann’s, C.A. Reed, Hoyer’s Photo Supply and the First National Bank of Montoursville to name a few.
Over the next several years, the club faced financial difficulties and found itself financially bankrupt by 1967. At this time, it appeared that the Susquehanna Riding Club would be faced with selling the property and closing the doors on a riding facility in Williamsport. Fortunately, a group of individuals interested in preserving the riding facility stepped in and during 1967-68 were able to set up the purchase of the property and form a new corporation. This group saw the value in having a riding facility in the area, especially for the youth and 4-H groups. By the spring of 1968, Carl A. Seitzer purchased the property as a trustee and Alfred W. Young established the Lycoming County Youth Horse & Pony Club as a solution for 4-H not being able to own property. Young also served as the first President of the newly formed corporation.
Under the legal guidance of Bertram S. Murphy the group set about the selling of shares to the club in order to reimburse Mr. Seitzer. The club was officially incorporated on April 23rd, 1968 as the Lycoming County Youth Horse and Pony Club. By the fall thatyear the club was legally established to do business as the Williamsport Riding Club for public relations and show advertising purposes. Because the grounds were in such disarray, many of the individuals involved in the reestablishing of the club also took on additional duties to ensure the grounds were able to serve their function in short order. The grounds committee was chaired by Frank Wagner, Electrical by Joe London, Plumbing by George Camp, Grand Stands by Wilson Doebler and Concession Stand by Bud Smith.
By June 16th, the grounds were ready for the Indian Park and Rough Neck 4-H clubs to hold a joint show. As the club reestablished itself under a new name, the Williamsport Charity Horse Show was also resurrected in June 22nd 1969 and continued until 1976. During the 1970’s the grounds hosted numerous Quarter Horse and Appaloosa shows. Throughout the 1990’s the club held several rodeo’s NBHA shows and hosted the Lipizzan Show. 1993 was the first year the WRC held a Children’s Show that to this day continues to attract a large number of exhibitors. In addition, from the 1960’s to the present day the grounds has served as the site of countless 4-H shows and has hosted County Round-Up, District 4-H and regional 4-H Production shows.
Over the years, the club has made continued improvements to the grounds including the addition of bathroom facilities, a two story announcer stand constructed in 1995, the establishment of a second permanent arena, outside trail course area, a new equipment shed in 1997 and the addition of a pitched roof and pavilion area on the concession stand.
The Williamsport Riding Club continues to thrive today hosting a series of Open Horse Show Extravaganza’s, Children’s Show Series and Saturday Night Pointed Schooling Show Series along with several other shows. Each year the facility is the site of the Lycoming County 4-H Round-up and Regional 4-H Production Show and county-wide riding meetings; continuing with its mission to provide a facility for use by the youth and 4-H clubs of Lycoming County.