From the Archives: Finding Love in the Wissahickon

Conservation // February 14, 2017

This is one in an occasional series in which FOW publishes articles that appeared in our publications in the past and still resonate with us today. This piece was written by Dena Sher, a former FOW Board Member, and first appeared in FOW’s Fall 2000 Newsletter. 

The year was 1956, and he was the new man in the office. Tall, dark, and handsome with large, warm brown eyes, he was also new to Philadelphia. “Any good places to hike in the area that I can get to without a car?” he asked as we shared a lunchroom table.

More than anxious to be helpful, I described beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park accessible by PTA (predecessor to SEPTA): “A lovely forested valley with a ‘crick’ running through it,” I said.

“You mean ‘creek’ don’t you,” he said, laughing. That’s how my first date with Sandy, my husband of 43 years, came about.

Our hike, after entering the Wissahickon Valley via Wise’s Mill Road from a bus stop on Ridge Avenue, ended with a delightful lunch on the porch of Valley Green Inn.

My own history with the Wissahickon goes back to my childhood. Growing up in a family without a car, public buses brought us to the entrance roads. I have a wonderful memory of coming into the valley on the Mt. Airy side and walking across the creek on stepping-stones, water sparkling in the sunshine, to reach Valley Green and feed the ducks on the other side.

The Wissahickon, associated with happy memories for me, plays a similar role in the lives of thousands in the Philadelphia area. Yet, so many of these thousands assume the forest, the creek, and the trails that they love so much, are immutable.

In my own lifetime, trails have widened from heavy use, creek banks have eroded, and invasive plants and vines have choked out trees and native undergrowth. . . . The Wissahickon Valley must be preserved, not only for its natural beauty, but because it fosters romance (as it did for me), educates our children in nature appreciation, and provides for all of us an unmatched source of health and tranquility.

Click here to show how much you love the Wissahickon today!