This is the main page of the Friends of the Wissahickon website. This site has and will continue to help me figure out dates to volunteer, either alone or with a group. I first found this site after returning from my weeks volunteering with the Appalachian Mountain Club, I wanted to continue conservation work closer to home, and this is what I found. This site has also helped me establish a relationship with the volunteer coordinators of the organization. I found their e-mails and was able to contact them to see if they would help me work to make these volunteer days happen.
Johannes Kelpius was one of the first European settlers of the Wissahickon valley. He was a monk from Germany who came over with the original group of Germans who bought the land from William Penn. He completed his studies in Transylvania, where he came to the conclusion that the world was going to end in 1693 based on a unique interpretation of the book of Revelations. He chose the Wissahickon as his place of meditation due to the regions reputation for religious freedom at the edge of the wilderness. None of this story particularly helps me organize volunteer work days, but the history is interesting and I will use this story in my presentation.
Rittenhouse town was the first industrial town in the region and home to the first paper mill in North America. It was first constructed by William Rittenhouse and his son Nicholas, and built up over eight generations in the same family. At the height of its operation, Rittenhouse town was a thriving industrial town with a boarding house for workers, stables, and firehouse, and a smithy along with the many mills build up along the banks of the river. While most of region was still a wild place on the edge of a new city, the Wissahickon became a thriving place of industry with many damns and mills taking control of the once secluded place of meditation.
The Fairmount Water Works began operation in 1815. Its purpose was to provide clean drinking water to the city of Philadelphia, and for a time it was one of the marvels of the western world. It was one of the the first attempts on this scale to provide drinking water to a city. Prior to its operation, the city of Philadelphia bought up a huge portion of the land upstream in the hopes of ensuring clean water for the city. This, of course, included Rittenhouse town which was razed to ensure that it would stop polluting the water supply. The region bought up by the city is what we know today as Fairmount park.
This website details some of the Legends of the Wissahickon. I'm citing it because it provides an interesting fact about my first source. According to this site, the monks who settled in the Wissahickon amassed an extensive library over the years of their operation in their area. Around the time that the property was divided up, Benjamin Franklin acquired the collection for his own personal library. Much of the original collection survives in the Benjamin Franklin library to this day.
This source provides a map of the Wissahickon as well as some of the dimensions of the parks. This link will help me provide reference to the park in my presentation. I might be able to use it to illustrate the different locations where we worked as well as what we accomplished there. I can make an interesting graphic out of it that will add to my presentation.
I cite this page because it details the history of the Friends of the Wissahickon. The original organization started in the early 20th century by a group of citizens who looked to volunteers to help keep the parks in operation. To this day they have kept the same mission and look to Philadelphia volunteers to make sure the human impact on the environment is as little as possible.
The Valley Green inn was built in 1851 by Thomas Livezey. It was built along the banks of the Wissahickon and provided food and lodging to the many visitors coming through the area to take in the scenery. Today the inn is still in operation, but no longer serves as an Inn, instead serving as a restaurant and wedding venue. It is placed at the heart of the trail system on forbidden drive and is the target for a good portion of the foot traffic in the parks.
Hidden City is one of the most reliable sources I could find on the Wissahickon. They specialize in Philadelphia's history and have confirmed many of the stories that I have listed here under different citations. The cite also provides many different pictures of the parks, which I can use in my presentation to help show the locations in which we worked.
This source was cited for much the same reason as the last citation on this list. It is reliable in confirming other history covered in these citations. It also provides images for use in my presentation and can be linked to give people an idea of the general mission of the Friends of the Wissahickon.