The Wissahickon Creek is one of Philadelphia's three major bodies of water (and, along with the Schuylkill and the Delaware, is represented by one of the three large chutes of water in Swann Fountain at Logan Circle), but it is far and away the most pristine. Err, well, it is when Merck isn't dumping cyanide into it. Right here in our city of a million and a half, we have a tree covered getaway with babbling stream to drown out the car horns and bus engines you're not thinking about anyway. And every fall, I make it a point to get out there for an extended hike.

It's maintained its existence as a varying precious resource for the Lenape Indians who regarded it as a spiritual place, religious enthusiasts like Johannes Kelpius and his hermits who waited for the end of the world, 19th century industrialists who valued the water supply for mills making paper, gunpowder and so forth, and forward thinking romantics in the early 20th century who demolished the mills and forbade automobiles from Wissahickon Drive (hence the name Forbidden Drive). Remnants and reminders from all of these eras exist throughout the seven-mile long park, including the only covered bridge within the limits of any major American city, a number of dams, Kelpius' cave, and a good deal of art installations.

This here is the Wissahickon, fall 2006.