Explore the Geology of the Wissahickon Park

By Brianna V. RSS Fri, March 8, 2024

William Penn’s dream of having a “Green Country Towne” inspired many generations to preserve parks and green spaces throughout the city and region. One prime example of this is the great Wissahickon Valley Park, nestled within the heart of Northwest Philadelphia. This space is a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty.

Historically, the Wissahickon existed undisturbed for millions of years prior to the Indigenous people of the region — the Lenape — who settled along rivers and creeks in the area. After years of colonization efforts by Dutch and Swede settlers, William Penn and the English Quaker sect entered into purchase agreements with the Lenape. Taking ownership of the land, Penn and the Quakers coexisted peacefully with the Lenape until his death in 1718. Not long after Penn's death, however, relations fell apart with the Europeans and the Lenape were forced from the area. After this, the Wissahickon Valley saw many historical events, including skirmishes from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Today the park is used recreationally, and we are able to appreciate the variety of beautiful natural landscapes visitors can take in and enjoy. From towering cliffs to cascading waterfalls, the Wissahickon displays numerous geological wonders.


Devil's Pool at Wissahickon Park


One of its most iconic features is the towering Wissahickon Schist, a rugged rock formation that dominates the park's landscape. Composed primarily of metamorphic rock, the Schist offers a glimpse into the geological forces that shaped the region over time.


Wissahickon Schist


But the space’s geological wonders extend far beyond its surface. Beneath the forested canopy lie hidden treasures, including ancient rock shelters and mysterious cave formations. These geological formations provide a fascinating glimpse into the area's past and offer clues about the ecosystems and wildlife that thrive there.

Discover the rich geological heritage of one of the city’s green spaces at the Falls of the Schuylkill Library. Join us for the Geology of the Wissahickon Park event on Friday, March 15 at 1:00 pm. Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Lisa Myers, an expert on our local ecosystem, will delve into Wissahickon's geology and the forces that shaped what we see there today. We will explore the theory of plate tectonics, mineralogy, and the rock cycle. There will also be a display of books and a local rock specimen collection to browse.


Wissahickon Orange Trail


Through our exploration and education, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the forces that have shaped it over the years.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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Is this event at the main library on the Parkway?
Marlene Steinberg - Philadelphia
Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Hi Marlene! The blog post mentions this event will be held at the Falls of Schuylkill Library.
Bridget - Philadelphia
Wednesday, March 13, 2024