In 1975 there was a heavy rainstorm that resulted John Koppe’s boat breaking from its dock at the Port Indian Water Ski Club in Norristown (West Norriton) and ending up in Philadelphia. The 19 year old Conshohocken (Plymouth Township) water skier’s effort to save it was documented by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin in two photos.
MoreThanTheCurve.com tracked down Koppe in Seattle, where he currently lives, and he recalled that the storm broke the docks at the ski club and he was among a group that was able to save all but one boat. Unfortunately, it was Koppe’s boat that ended up taking a ride to Philadelphia.
Koppe tried to get a rope around his boat from bridges over the river and the police even stopped traffic to help his effort. Near the Philadelphia Museum of Art he tied a rope around himself (picture at top of article) and swam out to to try to secure it. He was unsuccessful and the boat go away and went over a damn. The boat then came to stop and was found to be badly damaged, including having the motor broken off.
Koppe worked to repair the boat, but ended up selling it. He bought a new boat with the help from the club, which recognized his efforts to save the other boats docked at the club.
Koppe use to participate in hydroplane race ski shows and he shared a photo of himself water skiing on one bare foot.
The Port Indian Water Ski Club still exists. You can find the club’s Facebook page here.
River Photos: Courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center. Temple University Libraries. Philadelphia, PA. You can view the collection here.
Waterskiing Photo: Courtesy of Koppe