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Chestnut Hill Historical Society Wissahickon collection


Held at: Chestnut Hill Historical Society [Contact Us]8708 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA, 19118

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"On the east side of the Wissahickon Valley, high above the creek, is a 15-foot statue of an Indian. He was placed there in 1900 to memorialize the Lenni-Lenape tribe, who were the first people to walk the steep trails of the Wissahickon.

"When colonists arrived in the mid-1600s, the hunting and fishing grounds of the Indians were transformed into the first industrial area of North America. Waters of the Wissahickon Creek were dammed to supply power for more than 25 mills built along its banks.

"Co-existing with the mills in the 1800s were numerous taverns and roadhouses as the interior of the Valley became accessible by road and the Wissahickon Turnpike. Throughout the 19th century, the beauty of the Wissahickon's rock, forest, and water was celebrated in poetry and prose; paintings and prints. The Valley achieved international fame as visitors to Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition of 1876 took home tales of its wild scenery.

"Fairmount Park acquired the 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon Valley in 1868 in order to preserve the purity of the City's water supply. Mills and taverns were demolished leaving scant historic evidence in the form of dams and foundations. The wide Wissahickon Turnpike paralleling the creek was closed to vehicular traffic in 1920 and became Forbidden Drive.

"Today, the Wissahickon Valley is a unique, urban wilderness park providing recreation for thousands of visitors yearly from the city and the region. With minimal municipal resources available, preservation of the Valley must depend on the dedicated efforts of the Friends of the Wissahickon and other non-profit groups."


Friends of the Wissahickon. "History." 2006. Accessed January 9, 2011.

This collection was compiled by Chestnut Hill Historical Society staff and consists of ephemera, memorabilia and records created by various sources that relate to the Wissahickon Valley Park. There are newspaper clippings, magazine articles, pamphlets, books, and other publications, including scholarly research and governmental reports. The park is depicted in numerous media forms, including photographs, slides, music CDs, and VHS tapes recorded in the park. Other than original reports compiled by the Fairmount Park Commission, there are few unique documents in the collection.

Of special interest is a large collection of stereoviews of the Wissahickon. There are also many lantern slides.

The collection is organized by accession number.

Materials collected by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society from various sources.

Chestnut Hill Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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