The Golden Cave

ImageWhat more likely place to go hunting for gold than in the heart of the city?

My merry band of adventurers caught wind of an abandoned mine deep in the wilds of the Wissahickon Valley, and quickly signed up for a tour. We set off one day for an easy stroll down Forbidden Drive where it borders cool, green and leafy Wissahickon Creek.

Wissahickon 6 Trail_9805acsThere was no shortage of flowers and greenery to admire along the way.

Further along, a staircase led down the embankment to a small dam in the creek.

One of our group is a talented professional photographer who is generous with his photographic wisdom, and I soak it all up like a sponge.

At the dam, Ned gave me a homework assignment: photograph the water flowing over the wall at different shutter speeds.

Dam Collage I know which one I like better – how about you? (Click to see larger image.)

Wissahickon 2 Livezy Dam_9612aWhen he wasn’t looking, I forsook my homework and took a photo of a feather drifting lazily down the creek.

Wissahickon 3 Gold Mine Cave_9668aFrom a side trail, we got our first glimpse of the gold mine. This outcropping hides a small cave near its base that once was home to a mining operation, way back when in the 1760s.

The Roxborough Mining Company, consisting of a handful of German immigrants, excavated this manmade cave with hand drills and black powder. According to legend they were searching for gold, but having found none, soon abandoned the endeavor.

Wissahickon 3 Gold Mine Cave_9685acAnother legend claims this cave was a hidden storehouse of grain during Revolutionary days. Today it holds only tourists like us. Though the cave goes back some distance, the roof is low; here you can see the entrance is half a Robb high.

Wissahickon 4 Trail_9712acsAn old stone bridge carried us across the creek. A casual amble for us no longer; the trail was much more challenging on the other side.

Wissahickon 4 Trail_9730aThe pathway wound around rocks, over tree roots, and up and down hillsides. At times, it was crossed by rivulets of water; at other times those rivulets made their bed in the trail.

Wissahickon 6 Trail_9772aThe Valley is actually a gorge, with steep rocky hillsides. Here’s Don picking his way down the trail, aided by his trusty walking stick, and a convenient set of stairs.

Wissahickon 7 Livezy House_9812aThis is the Livezy House, built by a Quaker farmer and miller in 1749.

Wissahickon 8 Devils Pool_9839aAh, Devil’s Pool. Cresheim Creek drains into the Wissahickon here in this deep green glen. Like many of the watery places along the creek, it is a popular, and illegal, swimming hole.

It’s also dangerous. Too many people are tempted to jump from rocks up to 20 feet high into a pool that is just 5 to 7 feet at its deepest. Drownings are not unheard of here. Frequently polluted water adds to the list of hazards.

Devils Pool Collage 2bThis time-lapse photo proves that young daredevils are not easily deterred by the risks. Here I blended four shots into one to capture all the action of a backward somersault into the pool.

Wissahickon 4 Trail_9702aLike any urban area, Philadelphia is crowded, noisy, and paved-over. Yet within the city limits, in the Wissahickon Valley, Nature holds on as tenaciously as ferns cling to life in a rockface. Definitely urban living on the Wild Edge!