FOW Marks 100 Years of Conservation of Wissahickon Valley Park

News // February 01, 2024

Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) was founded in 1924 when a small group of local citizens came together to restore Wissahickon Valley Park after a winter storm destroyed over 200 trees. Through civic responsibility and environmental activism, they established a mission “to conserve the natural beauty and wildness of the Wissahickon Valley and stimulate public interest therein.” 

FOW has remained steadfast in carrying out this stewardship mission as it marks its centennial this year. The organization has become an active network of more than 3,000 members, volunteers, neighbors, and corporate and civic partners that bring resources to projects, help amplify FOW’s voice in advocacy, and provide critical financial support. 

“What is extraordinary is the model of the public-private stewardship of parks we’ve pursued was not the norm 100 years ago but has become standard practice throughout the country,” said Ruffian Tittmann, FOW’s executive director. “It has enabled us to grow and evolve with the changes and needs of the park and the community,” said Ruffian Tittmann, FOW’s executive director. 

With the increasing challenges of climate change, pollution, and more than two million visitors annually, conserving the natural beauty and diverse habitat of the Wissahickon’s 2,000-acre urban forest and 50+ miles of trails today means developing critical infrastructure, managing stormwater runoff, improving visitors’ experiences, and engaging with the community through education and outreach.

FOW will be undertaking its most ambitious scope of work to date in 2024 with a full slate of trail projects, capital improvements, restoration efforts, and public programming.

With the theme of “100 years of conservation,” FOW is planning a full year of celebratory projects and events to commemorate past achievements while looking forward to the next century, and sharing it all with those whose support and love for the Wissahickon has made FOW’s significant impact possible.

Mark your calendar for:

  • April 1 Biennial Wissahickon Photo Contest kicks off.
  • April 20Super Mega Earth Day of Service – FOW will hold a five–location cleanup event, followed by a celebration at Wissahickon Brewing Company.
  • May 10 Community Celebration for friends and neighbors at Valley Green Inn. featuring a Wissahickon-themed photo exhibition by students from Photography Without Borders.
  • June 1 – 2024 Wissahickon Trail Classic – 15th Anniversary of the 10K Trail Race and 1-mile family-friendly nature walk on National Trails Day. 
  • September (date TBD) – SCH’s 2024 Fall Barbara Crawford Gallery Show: Nature’s Inspiration: Art Inspired by the Wissahickon Valley exhibition opens, in partnership with FOW. 
  • October (date TBD) – Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Night of Lights – FOW is thrilled to be prominently featured by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy during its Night of Lights public streetscape exhibition across several nights in early October.
  • November 8 “100 Year of Wild” Gala Celebration – The PumpHouse – We’re rounding out our year of celebration with an elegant evening of community, celebration, and mission just upstream from the confluence of the Wissahickon Creek and Schuylkill River at this former iron and steel foundry and historical landmark in Bala Cynwyd. 

Thank you to early Gala sponsors Iron Stone Real Estate Partners and Manko Gold Katcher & Fox LLP.

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities, celebration events, how to participate and learn more about what FOW has achieved over the last 100 years and what we’re planning for the next century, visit fow.org/100years.