Brief Summer Rambles Near Philadelphia.
Described in a series of letters written for
The Public Ledger during the summer of 1881.
By Joel Cook. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1882.

Source: Google Books
Please contact me if you find any typos or errors in the text below.

Most of these rambles were outside the city; the first four, which are
reproduced below, describe the scenery in:

I. Fairmount Park
II. Laurel Hill Cemetery
III. Wissahickon Creek
IV. Delaware River from Philadelphia to Trenton,
as seen from a steamboat.

The Introduction is from the editor of the Public Ledger,
the Philadelphia newspaper in which Cook's letters first appeared.

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
HomeCreek to sewerDown underarchivesmapsAdam LevineLinks

[PAGE 3]
LOOKING back over the files of the Ledger from the middle of June of this year to the end of August, embracing these "Brief Summer Rambles" as first presented to the public, it is easy to understand why so many letters have been received suggesting their publication in book form. The motive that prompted the sketches pervades the whole series. This was to remind our people how many pleasant places, how much picturesque scenery, how many delightful jaunts, how great a body of interesting annals and tradition and instructive history there are within a few hours' ride from the city by rail or river. This pervading idea is carried out consistently, completely, and with full success. With the exception of one short route, every railway and steamboat route radiating from Philadelphia is covered; every one of the "Rambles" is within one day's ride from Philadelphia, most of them are within a few hours, and in many instances the pleasure-seeker can take his ramble and return home by evening to occupy his own room and bed, which is something to be taken into consideration.

The sketches follow the usual routes of travel between the places embraced in the "Rambles," taking in the Delaware from the Water Gap to the sea, and every prominent seashore resort from Cape May to Coney Island; every principal line of travel northeast, north, west, and south, from above West Point on the Hudson, southwest to Baltimore, along [PAGE 4] the Lehigh Valley, and west through Harrisburg to Pittsburg.

It is no longer necessary to say to the reading public that Mr. Cook, the writer of the sketches, has quick perception of what is attractive and interesting in the scenes and places through which he passes, and along which he carries his readers, and that he has a "faculty" for that kind of descriptive writing. His first book [A Holiday Tour in Europe] made many thousands acquainted with these talents. In this series he has done a rare good thing in the endeavor to make the public acquainted with the pleasures and information within their reach in short summer trips near home.

W. V. McKEAN, Editor in Chief.

[PAGE 7]


The summer heat is upon us, and where shall we go to keep cool? Only a little while back people who could afford it were fleeing to Florida or Cuba in search of warm weather; and now that they have got it at home they meditate another migration to find a lower temperature. Some hie to Europe, others to the Pacific coast, others to the lakes and mountains; but the great majority cannot take such long journeys, and in fact have to confine their relaxation to short visits near home, occupying but a day or two, and costing comparatively little money. To these, though they may not always believe it, the short excursion generally gives more genuine enjoyment than the more pretentious and lengthened tour. A protracted period of sightseeing often palls upon the tourist, but the brief jaunt freshens and exhilarates him. It is not necessary to go long journeys to find grand scenery and seek relaxation, for both can be cheaply got at our own doors.

How many who praise Hyde Park and the Bois de Boulogne have ever thoroughly explored Fairmount Park, or know that it has many more glories than either? Take a day to look at it, and see if this tour near home in the most extensive pleasure-ground in our country will not give the keenest enjoyment, even though it may only cost a few pennies for car and steamboat rides, and a trifle for refreshment. To thoroughly enjoy the Park tour only needs the conviction that something can be found there worth looking at Let us start from one of the Fairmount entrances, and go along past [PAGE 8] the Art Gallery, where crowds are usually waiting their turns to see the Pompeiian views, up along the road to where it forks at the Lincoln Monument. On the left hand are the greensward and the river, and on the right the sloping hills, down which troops of children are nearly always rolling. Fountains plash on either side, while in front rises Lemon Hill, its base bordered with flower-beds. We enter the road along the river, with its stately rows of linden-trees and crowds of promenaders, its pretty boat-houses on the river-bank, and its hills and summer-house on the right-hand side. The water is rippled by the cool breeze, so different from the parched air just left behind us, and, as we round the rocky point at the river bend, a view is opened of the stately bridges in front of the Zoological Garden across the stream. Passing through the tunnel and under the bridges, the sunshine on the bright roof of the Horticultural Building dazzles the eye as it traces out the majestic sweep of the western river bank at Sweetbrier and above. We leave the sparkling water, and, as the trains rush by on the two great railways of Philadelphia, one in front and the other almost over our heads, mount the hill and enter a pretty bit of woodland, with rhododendrons bordering the road. Soon we reach the reservoir and the region known as "Pipetown." Here, if so inclined, the art of "How not to do it" in pipe-laying may be studied, for these great pipes have lain here many-a-year, rusting away and serving as an occasional lodging-house for tramps. The unfinished reservoir rises beyond like a great fortress, to remind us how city debts can be piled up. But there is no use moralizing, and instead we will go along over the beautiful green west of the reservoir, and out to the v river again at Mount Pleasant, to see the old house where Benedict Arnold once lived, and while getting a drink of milk join the curious crowd who are studying the mysteries of the " Dairy." Most of these people know that cows produce milk, but they are in doubt as to how it is got out of the animal, some having an idea that a tail may be given a cow, not only to switch flies, but also to serve as a pump-handle.


We are only two miles from Fairmount, but it is a paradise apparently far away from any city, and as we go farther [PAGE 9] on past Rockland and Ormiston the rural beauties increase. Crossing the pretty ravine and mounting the hill to Edgely, little lunch- and picnic-parties are passed, camped out under the trees in cosey nooks, while the children run over the green grass and enjoy themselves. A short walk brings us to the brink of the river on top of the bluff at Edgely, and at an elevation of perhaps a hundred feet gives one of the most glorious views to be found near Philadelphia,--a gentle scene, that will please as well as the bolder scenery of more loudly-praised localities. The Schuylkill, as we look upstream, curves around towards the left, with green hill-sides on either hand. Little boats dot the water, and an occasional steamer passes far beneath us laden with pleasure-seekers. Far off in the distance is the Falls village, with its railroad bridge, the arches making complete circles as they are reflected in the water, while above, the white steam puffs from what looks like a little toy locomotive, it is so far away. In the foreground the Park drive climbs Strawberry Hill, and beyond are the white tombs of Laurel Hill, embosomed in foliage. Serenely quiet, excepting where the silence is broken by the roar of a passing train, here is a lovely spot to rest and feed upon the glorious view. Across, on the opposite bank, the carriages, looking like insects, can be seen slowly creeping up the slope towards Chamounix. For perfect rural beauty, with wood and water scenery, this cannot be excelled in its own character of subdued landscape anywhere; yet here it is, with its fame unsung, at our own doors.

Reluctantly leaving this beautiful place let us go down Strawberry Hill to the road along the river-bank, where the fast trotters dart swiftly by us and the policemen have their hands full to prevent horse-racing. It is sultry usually along this low-lying road, for the hills keep off the breeze, and the perspiring visitor mournfully recalls last winter's ice gorge, when the great ice-cakes brought down by the freshet covered over most of this road and broke to pieces much of its pretty rustic fence. Above the precipitous rocks and hollowed out within them are the tombs of Laurel Hill, while young people romantically inclined seek jutting crags to sit upon, as a pretty young lady did whose blood-red umbrella almost dazzled me in the sunlight, as she sat far above, at the foot [PAGE 10] of a tree. We go along by the " willows" over a beautiful section of roadway, and under the arch of the railway bridge, past the regions of " catfish and waffles," and the rocks in the river that once made the "Falls," but are now chiefly available as seats for the youths with fish-lines who wait patiently for "bites" they seldom get. Turning into the open wooden bridge we cross the river and study the deliberate character of canal navigation, as viewed on the opposite shore, where the patient mules coax the boat-loads of coal down-stream to a market. In front a little brook comes down the hill and rushes over a cascade of rocks into the river. We mount the hill, passing through the woods and alongside the curved dam that is thrown across the brook, making a higher waterfall, and on top of the hill discover another glorious view.


Standing on this eminence the Reading Railroad, with its passing trains, is almost beneath our feet, and its coal-dust-marked roadway can be traced out in black lines far off in both directions. Beyond is the river, with its bridges, and opposite is the thriving village of the Falls,--a city in miniature, looking like a lot of little models of houses, set up in rows on the hill-side, so that if one toppled over it would knock down the whole town like so many rows of bricks. To the right is Laurel Hill, a forest of snow-white monuments extending down the river until shut out by the edge of the picture. To the left, the Schuylkill stretches far away northward, past the densely-wooded ravine of the Wissahickon and its high bridge, while the tall chimneys of the Manayunk mills are shut in by a background of hazy hills in the distance. Fields, woods, and an occasional ornate villa make up the border to this pretty scene. This is Chamounix,--modest, it is true, when compared with its Swiss namesake, and much warmer in summer weather, for there is no snow on the peaks around, but its old house is in a picturesque spot. We are told that one of its owners, when forced to leave this beautiful place, died of a broken heart.

Turning towards the city we pass along the hill-tops, Girard College being seen far away across the river, and also the brown sides of the reservoir, with Lemon Hill Observatory [PAGE 11] apparently mounting guard as it stands out against the sky. Going over the farm-land, as yet unimproved, and past the little water-tanks, where the road-sprinklers get their supplies, a steady panorama of pretty views is unfolded on the Schuylkill. We skirt along the dilapidated fences bearing the signs that say "Horses taken to pasture," and coming out by Christ Church Hospital go to George's Hill. Here is a garden-spot, the shrubbery and flower-beds forming a proper frame for the beautiful view from the top of the Concourse. This hill gives the most extended scene in the Park, marred only by the absence of water scenery. Looking over the stately Total Abstinence Fountain in the foreground, and beyond the Centennial Buildings, there is spread out the great city, with its subdued hum of industry, its myriad smokes from factory chimneys, and its distant border made by the hazy land of Jersey. On the green fields and mazy footwalks people are scattered like so many ants, creeping slowly about, singly or in twos and threes, while the swift-rushing locomotive and slow-moving horse-car, off to the right, indicate the different kinds of land navigation. Within the past ten years, the houses of the town have been steadily encroaching upon this grand view, and before long they will completely encircle George's Hill.


Now let us descend the hill past St. George's House, England's Centennial gift to Philadelphia, and proceed towards the river again, reaching it at Belmont. Here, in the olden time, Judge Peters entertained the most famous men of his day, and, as they sat on his porch at Belmont Mansion and looked down the beautiful Schuylkill at the distant city, they thought it the most superb of views. Gradually the city came towards his farm, first throwing Columbia bridge across the river at his feet, then capturing his home for a pleasure-ground, and afterwards building the two bridges at Girard Avenue, which look so pretty in the distance, as the sheet of placid water spreads towards them, and the Cathedral dome, the new City Hall, and the Masonic Hall tower all rise above. Away off, over the town, the observer who is on a sufficient elevation can occasionally detect the white sails of vessels moving on the Delaware. But we must hasten on towards [PAGE 12] the city, loitering a few minutes to see the Horticultural Building, with its tropical foliage and plants inside, and its pretty flower-gardens outside; past the "Lovers' Retreat" and "Lansdowne Ravine" with their shady footpaths, under the thick foliage, and the river view from the Lansdowne bridge. Still we hasten towards town, across the "Sweet-brier Vale," where the road winds down the hill on one side and up on the other, and where the children are supposed, from the sign, to have their playground, hut where full-grown children are usually playing croquet. Over the bridge at Girard Avenue we go into the city with crowds of pedestrians, heavily-laden cars, and quickly-moving carriages, and in along the Park road past the "Mineral Spring," whose water is mildly suggestive of rusty nails and disused tomato-cans, but still is better-tasted, if not so famous, as the waters of Saratoga or Baden. We pass the little goat-wagons and flying-horses and swings, around which admiring children cluster, and the large beer-breweries beyond the Park boundary that attract the older folk, and, reaching the starting-point at Fairmount, the day's tour is over.

Do not suppose that this exhausts the attractions of the Park. Weeks can be profitably occupied in its exploration on foot or horseback or in carriage. It constantly develops new beauties to him who searches them out, while for him who cannot spare the time or money for more extended recreation it presents an unfailing field for summer rambles near home.


THERE is a mournful yet pleasant attraction in a burial-ground for a large part of human kind. They seek its solace and solitude to meditate, to deck the graves of loved ones with flowers, and to commune with spirits that have gone before. Every large city has its favorite burial-place, but none [PAGE 13] a more famous one than Laurel Hill. Let us take to-day's ramble there. Thirty years ago a popular guide-book told the public how to get to Laurel Hill in these words: "The Third and Coates Street line of omnibuses leaves the Exchange every eight minutes for Fairmount, where it connects immediately on Coates Street with Bender and Wright's Schuylkill boats for Mount Pleasant, Laurel Hill Cemetery, and Manayunk." Those omnibuses and those boats are no more. The horse-cars have superseded the one, and the Fairmount Steamboat Company's fine line of Schuylkill steamers the other. Then the Wire Bridge and the Fairmount Water Works were the two wonders of Philadelphia, but both have been eclipsed by later bridges and improved pumping machinery. Then there was no Fairmount Park, and the Schuylkill flowed between banks that were the country homes of opulent citizens. At Lemon Hill was Pratt's Garden, and the Zoological Garden was "Solitude," once the country home of John Penn. The inclined plane, where the steam-cars from the west end of Columbia bridge were hauled up the hill by machinery to the Columbia Railroad, was then in full operation. On the western shore, above Columbia bridge, and opposite Peters' Island, and now dwarfed by the Park offices near by, is the little stone cottage, with the overhanging roof, where tradition says the poet Tom Moore lived when in Philadelphia. Tom Moore was here for ten days in the summer of 1804, and his ballad-

"I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curled
Above the green elms, that a cottage was near.
And I said,' If there's peace to be found in the world,
A heart that was humble might hope for it here'"-

is said to have been written at and about this cottage. His letters show that while he generally disliked most of our country as seen on his journey, he found an oasis of kindness in Philadelphia, and was delighted with Quaker City hospitality. He composed an ode to the Schuylkill, its natural beauties having greatly impressed him, from which I quote the following:

"Alone by the Schuylkill a wanderer roved,
And bright were its flowery banks to his eye;
But far, very far, were the friends that he loved,
And he gazed on its flowery banks with a sigh!

[PAGE 14]

"The stranger is gone,-but he will not forget,
When at home he shall talk of the toil he has known,
To tell with a sigh what endearments he met,
As he stray'd by the wave of the Schuylkill alone!"


The steamer stops just above, on the eastern bank, at Laurel Hill. Let us enter and walk about among its tombs and statues and monuments, the white marble, as the sun shines upon it, contrasting beautifully with the green grass and foliage. As in sympathy with the place we recall the history of the past, the memory goes back to the foundation of this cemetery forty-five years ago, and the ten years of struggling against ill fortune that were necessary to establish it. Before 1836, excepting in Ronaldson's Cemetery, the burials of our people were mainly in church-yards. Laurel Hill was the name of the estate at Edgely, on the Schuylkill, in the Park, a mile below, and this cemetery site was the country-seat of a prominent merchant in the olden time, Joseph Sims. His home was bought; the name of the estate at Edgely was given it; and this, in 1836, was the foundation of Laurel Hill Cemetery, now extended till it covers nearly a hundred acres. As we proceed through the cemetery there are seen the most beautiful views along the Schuylkill; the winding walks and terraced slopes and ravines giving constantly-changing landscapes. Few burial-places in the world can compare with this; and Greenwood, at Brooklyn, is its only superior. The Necropolis, at Glasgow, built upon the hill-side, resembles Laurel Hill somewhat, but lacks the beauty of our clear atmosphere and the Schuylkill water views. Pere La Chaise, at Paris, the most famous of cemeteries, cannot compare with Laurel Hill in beauty, while the French system of interment is so different from ours, that its vaults, and little houses, and tinsel ornaments are totally unlike our mounded graves, white stones, and floral tributes. After moving about among the tombs, and getting glimpses of views over the river through the trees, we cross the pretty little bridge spanning the lane dividing the cemetery, and pass the mausoleums built into the hillsides or upon the rocks. Some of these and some of the lot enclosures have been made at immense cost, rivalling in expensiveness, [PAGE 15] if not in ornamentation) the tombs of the Doges of Venice, that fill up so many of the churches in the Italian city.


Here is the Disston Mausoleum, built on a jutting eminence, so that it can be seen miles away, and the placid river flows in front and far below, the green fields sloping up on the opposite bank in picturesque beauty. In front of this monument is one of those grand views along the Schuylkill, such as few public parks in other cities can present. The river curves around like a bow. To the southward and far off over the Columbia bridge are the Centennial Buildings, closing the scene in the hazy distance. To the northward are the pretty arches of the Falls bridge and the village beyond. Many feet below us the carriages glide along the Park road on the edge of the water, and on the opposite bank a noisy railway train marks its flight by a long streak of black smoke. Far above the train, stands in solitude among the trees the lonely house on top of Chamounix hill. Continuing the walk a little farther up, the ponderous granite-work of lot enclosure is going on, occupying the labor of a detachment of stone-masons with derrick and catamaran, a task equal to building a house. The terraced walks here curve around like the rising banks of seats in a Roman amphitheatre, the intermediate spaces filled with graves. Here, alongside of John Sergeant, is the modest tomb of General Meade. Away down by the river-bank, and in a plain unmarked sepulchre cut out of the solid rock, lies the Arctic explorer, Dr. Kane. A single shaft, on a little eminence near by, marks the grave of Charles Thomson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress. Just above this, a piece of rough rock bearing an urn and a stringless lyre tells on a little shield that there lies beneath all that remains of Joseph C. Neal, the "Charcoal Sketcher," one of the brightest journalists of a former generation. Walking farther northward the view along the river, above the Falls, opens, and here, in bronze, sits Cresson, the artist, who, though the inscription says he was "a lover of art," could not have gotten a better resting-place in which to study the beauties of nature.

[PAGE 16]
The cemetery is full of the graves of famous men of a former generation. Near the entrance a plain shaft marks the resting-place of Thomas Godfrey, the inventor of the mariner's quadrant. Not far away is the tribute to Commodore Hull, whose Roman altar tomb is surmounted by the eagle which defends the American flag, with every expression of beak and talons. Hull commanded the "Constitution" and startled the world by her capture of the British frigate "Guerriere," in 1812. Adjacent a flat slab covers Chief Justice Thomas McKean. General Hugh Mercer is buried on the open space fronting the chapel, his remains having been removed here from Christ Church-yard, with unusual pomp, in 1840, while the St. Andrew's Society erected the monument over the hero* who fell at Princeton. Julius Friedlander, the founder of the Institution for the Blind, is interred beneath a plain monument. The graves of Frederick Graeff [sic: Graff], the designer of the Fairmount Water Works; of Major Twiggs, who fell in the Mexican War; of Thomas Buchanan Read, the poet-artist; and of William Bradford, are also in Laurel Hill, while near the latter the genial Louis A. Godey is entombed in a stately mausoleum. But of the thousands of well-known Philadelphians whose last homes are about us, there is not room in this hasty sketch to write. Loving hands deck their graves and keep their memories green. As we proceed there is ample chance to study the changes that a half-century has made in our system of grave decoration, and how the plain slab and tombstone have gradually developed into the magnificent mausoleums and monuments of to-day. The walk finally brings us to the northern limit of the cemetery, overlooking the Falls village, and one cannot help thinking of how many are lying in this beautiful place who, even while living, came here to select a favorite spot wherein to rest when dead.


Turning to go out, we pause near the entrance, and find facing the gate Thorn's "Old Mortality" group, under an ornamental temple. Here is the quaint old Scotchman reclining on a gravestone and chipping out the half-effaced letters of the inscription, while the little pony patiently waits alongside him, for his master and Sir Walter Scott, who sits on [PAGE 17] another tomb, to finish their discourse. Sir Walter and the pony are carved from American stone quarried near Newark, while the old pilgrim on the grave came from Scotland. The group is an appropriate decoration, and were it in Edinburgh how the Scots would treasure it! Not long ago the veritable "Old Mortality" of Laurel Hill was gathered unto his fathers. The venerable John Conway, who had been employed there almost since the opening of the cemetery, and who had become an octogenarian in its service, passing his declining years in wandering about, scythe in hand, like Father Time, fixing up and improving the graves in this beautiful home of the dead, finally succumbed last May like all of us must. He is to-day laid among the thousands at whose funerals he had for nearly a half-century assisted.


LET us start on a bright morning and drive out Broad Street behind a pair of nimble white horses. North Broad Street looks like a reduced edition of the Paris Champs Elysees Avenue with its ornamental gardens and fine residences, and the borders of bright green trees. The house-servants, in true Philadelphia style, are splashing the water over the pavements and watching furtively for the policeman who may have a regard for the city ordinance that ought to stop the deluge at seven A.M., but sometimes don't. We go past Monument Cemetery and turn westward on Park Avenue, which gives a good view, though at some distance, of the Washington and Lafayette Monument. This street runs through a region that not long ago was almost entirely the domain of nomadic tribes of goats and geese, but is now to a great extent built up with rows of comfortable houses. It is, however, very rough riding at present on Park Avenue. The relics of the wooden pavement are full of holes, here and there [PAGE 18] patched with stones, giving plenty of exercise which may be good for digestion, but is uncomfortable. Droves of lazy pigs are coming into town taking up the entire street and sidewalks, as these useful animals usually do, and cows ruminate among the ash-heaps on the vacant lots, endeavoring to find an excuse from the occasional patches of grass to give it pure country milk." We soon reach the regions of the dead, through which the effort is making to have Park Avenue opened, and, it is to be hoped, decently paved. We pass the Odd-Fellows' and Mechanics1 Cemeteries, and, turning into Ridge Avenue, the Glenwood. This leads to a semi-rural region, where buildings are scattered about, with plenty of intervening space for more, and where the stone-cutters and florists--attracted by the cemeteries--are numerous. Leaving the East Park, with its pretty hedges of japonica, we pass Laurel Hill and Mount Vernon Cemeteries, and go through the busy Falls village, devoted to carpet-weaving.


We are taking this ride to seek the Wissahickon, which has been not inaptly termed a section cut from Switzerland. This ravine lies between Leverington and Roxborough on the one hand, and Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill on the other. If this gorge were near Boston every New England poet would go wild over it, and, were it really located in Switzerland, Philadelphia pilgrims who never venture near it now would feel in duty bound to take it in as part of the "grand tour." Leaving the Falls village, we turn in from the edge of the Schuylkill, alongside the attractive picnic-ground at Riverside Park, and go under the uncouth railroad high bridge, elevated one hundred feet above us, with the extra sets of wooden trestles and stone buttresses, a construction of sometimes doubted strength, but always certain ugliness, which it is gratifying to know is soon to be replaced by a substantial new stone bridge. Rounding a sharp rocky corner, we are at once amid the beauties of the Wissahickon ravine. Roads wind along on either side of the still waters, between high wooded hills, clad as nature made them. The first bend of the stream discloses a pretty view, with row-boats on the water, but the banks are almost deserted, for it is morning, and few carriages or pedestrians [PAGE 19] have yet come out. Halting at Maple Spring, a look is taken at the late Joseph Smith's strange museum. Mr. Smith, who died at the ripe old age of eighty-one, about two years ago, had a genius for fantastic carving. Out of the roots of the laurel, which produce such tortuous shapes, he has fashioned every imaginable strange figure and caricature of beast, bird, and reptile, and made a museum which is one of the curiosities of the country. He had wonderful skill in taking a laurel-root, detecting a fantastic resemblance, and then, with very little change in its original shape, making it the representative of a living or imagined thing. This museum contains the most remarkable collection of devils thus made, including the representative devils of all countries. Mr. and Mrs. Beelzebub sit on either hand, and their son is riding a galloping horse. There are monkeys, birds, rats, snakes, elephants' heads and trunks, the heads of prominent men, and all of them are the original and scarcely-changed roots. The place is full of such fancies, some fashioned into picture-frames or flower-baskets, and to each of the curiosities this professor of "rootology" attached a quaint and amusing history. His museum at Maple Spring remains just as he left it, and is one of the attractions of the Park. Behind the house pours down, in steady stream, the pure spring-water that gives the place its name.


Resuming the journey up the ravine, we come to the "Old Log Cabin Bridge," which, with its attendant wild scenery, has been for many years the subject of the artist's pencil. Near by a lane leads to the "Hermit's Pool," where the eccentric "Hermit of the Wissahickon," John Kelpius, almost two centuries ago, dug his well and made his home; preached to his disciples of the near approach of the Millennium; and finally, casting his magical " wisdom-stone" into the stream, died in 1704, to the great relief of his Quaker neighbors, who did not relish such alchemy in close proximity to the city of Penn. The region is a weird spot, and the old hotel near the Log Cabin bridge, that was in former days the resort of such lively parties, has many a pleasant memory for its visitors. It has been swept away by the progress of Park improvements, but its frequenters will not soon forget the ingenuity [PAGE 20] with which the landlord increased his trade by keeping a sheepish-looking bear chained to a tree, with a sign--

"This bear drinks sarsaparilla."
"N.B.-Sarsaparilla sold at the bar."

That bear became the most expert cork-drawer of his time, but he must have succumbed as a martyr to too much drink.

The stream winds between its rocky, wooded banks, the water rippling over the stones, and just above, the gorge makes a right-angled bend, the road going over a stone bridge, near which a couple of fishermen were waiting for a long-delayed nibble. The creek must, by this time, be almost fished out, yet there are rumors of an occasional gold-fish being caught. We cross the "Little Red Bridge," which is constructed much after the pattern of Noah's Ark, and continue up the western bank. The view broadens somewhat as the top of the gorge widens, and but for the absence of snow-capped peaks you might almost imagine yourself in a Swiss valley, instead of a few miles out of Philadelphia. Long vistas open occasionally as the gorge bends, while the creek narrows as we ascend. The water ripples down the cascades and makes plenty of noise. Little streams fall in, and at intervals a break in the woods discloses a field with cattle pasturing on the hill-side. Were the Wissahickon in Europe it would be dignified with the name of a river, and it really brings down more water than many a famous river of the Old World. It is probably about the only stream of its size in the United States whose navigation improvement is not taken care of by Congress in the River and Harbor Bill.


We ride under the pipe bridge that was thrown across the gorge about ten years ago to carry water from Roxborough to German town, and which, with its inverted arches, looks as if turned upside down, and see another red bridge, with only about two-thirds the usual allowance of roof, the wind having blown the rest away. Passing the Valley Green, where ducks paddle about under the trees, and a pretty single-arch stone bridge spans the stream, we go by the paper mills, the life of that manufacture being clear water. The gorge still lengthens out before us as we move on steadily up-hill and [PAGE 21] pass the Indian Rock. Here tradition tells of a romantic Indian maiden-name unknown-who jumped from away up on the side of the gorge--date not mentioned--and buried her sorrows in the water far below. I tell the harrowing tale as it was told to me, although unable to verify the story. Thus the gorge continues up to Chestnut Hill, beyond which the creek flows through meadow-land before it enters the ravine. The many springs and little streams that come out on the sides of the gorge give a plentiful supply for drinking-fountains and water-tanks. Below Indian Rock, about thirty years ago, kind hands set up an attractive little fountain on the rocky roadside, and inscribed it "Pro Bono Publico," with the noble wish, expressed at its base, "Esto Perpetua." The moss-covered rocks and overhanging trees make this perpetual spring a cool resort in sweltering weather.

Turning back and crossing the stone bridge, we toil laboriously up the hill, out of the ravine. The road is rough and needs improvement. Wissahickon Avenue thus winds up through another pretty gorge, with a little stream rippling down alongside. This very bad thoroughfare brings us to Mount Airy, and we turn towards the city. The Germantown Avenue paving is in this portion better cared for than it used to be, but is still imperfect. Going southeast past the ancient Mermaid Inn, we entered picturesque Germantown, with its charming villas interspersed with old-time houses. Heavy teams toil along the dusty road, showing that, in spite of railways, wagon traffic still supplies a large section of the northern suburbs. Striking the Belgian pavement in upper Germantown, the carriage rolls smoothly along the car-tracks, and it can be remarked how much this place looks like an English provincial town, with its stone and stucco houses, peaked roofs and gables, and the comparative scarcity of red brick buildings. The frequent trees beautify the avenue, and with the villas make it attractive. We pass various old and famous houses, not to forget the Chew mansion and the Germantown Telegraph office, with Major Freas's fruit garden alongside; the pretty little ivy-entwined church, and the public school, with the yardful of playing children, and ride down the hill towards Nicetown, where the Midvale Steel-Works, off to the right, are making a terrible smoke. Then, under the two open railway bridges, where locomotives [PAGE 22] rush over us, and, for a moment, frighten the horses. Below Nicetown we turn into the very dusty race-track known as North Broad Street, on which the festive horsemen exercise their ponies, and the rest of the travellers bewail the want of water-sprinklers and good paving. Coming into town the morning ride is ended.


THERE is no summer recreation more pleasant than a ride on the river. It is healthful and invigorating, and the cool breezes of a trip over the water have been known to preserve life. Many a mother has saved her sick child by taking it a steamboat ride. The Delaware gives especial opportunity for this, and we will take our recreation to-day by a ride up the river. Several fine steamers are ready to carry us,--the "Columbia," the "Twilight," the "Edwin Forrest," and others, and we will take the "Forrest," for it goes the farthest, all the way to Trenton, forty miles by water, though much less by land. The scenery of the Delaware, above Philadelphia, is attractive for every one who likes beautiful shores lined with villas, pretty woods, and cultivated fields, but the banks are usually low, scarcely rising into prominence excepting at Florence Heights. The frequent bends and coves and little towns give it many charms, and the river excursions are always popular.

The steamboat "Edwin Forrest," at Arch Street wharf, after considerable commotion among the other steamers clustering around the wharf, and some piercing shrieks from steam-whistles, goes out into the stream and turns her prow northward. Captain Cone directs her movements in the pilothouse forward, on top of which stands Forrest himself, as the Indian chief Metamora, aiming his musket ahead of the steamboat. She glides swiftly along, past the vessels at the piers, the acres of lumber-yards in the neighborhood of [PAGE 23] Poplar and Shackamaxon Streets, and the nest of iron-mills and ship-building yards at Kensington, where the clouds of black smoke give evidence of a big business. At Cramp's yard and above a dozen vessels are building and repairing, for here is the Philadelphia hospital for sick steamers, while over on the Jersey shore, at Cooper's Point, they have a similar infirmary for disabled schooners. The river sweeps grandly around towards the northeast, as the boat runs between Port Richmond and Petty's Island, with the black coal-wharves and a forest of loading vessels' masts passing in review on the left hand, and the huge new grain elevator towering up above, a landmark for the whole river front. In midstream, dredges are deepening the channel so that large vessels can easier get in and out the Port Richmond docks, as an enormous trade is developing here. Farther on are the gas-works, with long trestles extending out to the water's edge for coal-landing, this being one of the institutions where favored local statesmen are employed at snug salaries and easy hours to "wheel out smoke." Over on the Jersey shore, nestling among the trees in the cove above Cooper's Point, is the Tammany Fish-House, where they make scientific investigations of the seductive liquid known as "Fish-House punch." The shores are low on either bank, and approaching Bridesburg we cross "Five-Mile Bar," where the shallow water impedes navigation and needs government attention. Bridesburg is low-lying, with its houses and arsenal half covered with trees, while above them tower Fitler's new cordage-mills, an immense structure, with an unfinished smoke-stack, looking not unlike some grand cathedral in the distant view. The attractive water-works building is near by on the river-bank.


On the stream are long tows of coal-barges, bound to and from the canals at Bristol and Bordentown. At least a dozen will be dragged behind a sad-looking, slow-moving, but powerful towboat, while others cluster around the little tugs that puff along in lively fashion. Occasionally a lazy sailing craft tacks across the channel, and makes the steamboat change her course to get out of the way. Bridesburg gradually dissolves into Tacony, with the extensive improvements made [PAGE 24] by the Disstons; and here is seen the once busy but now almost idle wharf and station where formerly the New York passengers were transferred between boat and train. Next the huge House of Correction rises on the left hand, while on the opposite shore is the pretty town of Riverton, with its attractive villas on the river-bank. The House of Correction farm extends for a mile along the shore, a series of well-kept lawns, gardens, and fields, with an occasional bit of woodland. Above this the boat approaches and stops at Torresdale. This is one of the most beautiful spots on the Delaware, villas lining the shore, with neat lawns under the trees, and the green bank abruptly sloping down to the water's edge, where nearly every place has its boat-house, some of them quite ornamental structures. Little boys are dabbling in the water, over the sides of little boats, and you feel like escaping from the boat by jumping in beside them and then creeping up the bank to lie under the trees. The lucky people who live there can look across at the Jersey shore, where the Rancocas comes in between its low mud-banks, and far up this creek can see the railway drawbridge, where once a train plunged through and killed a large part of its passengers. Above the Rancocas are Riverside and Delanco, and a succession of attractive country-seats line both shores. On the Pennsylvania side is Andalusia, with the Chestnut Grove excursion-ground back of the landing.


Soon we come to one of the most popular Jersey towns on the river, Beverly, around which the Delaware winds beautifully, the wharf being on a point jutting out into the stream, while above is as perfect a cove as the eye can find, the villas and sloping green banks giving evidence of the wealth and taste of their owners. On the upper part of the cove the bluff shore rises a little, and here (the river-men say) live the "high-toners" of Beverly, their settlement being known as Edgewater. They are evidently people of good taste, both in their selection of homes and their adornments. Beverly used to be "Dunk's Ferry," while Edgewater was "Woodlane," and there still live Jerseymen who have sucked straws at its former cider-press, and as they did so looked over the river at the mouth of the broad Neshaminy. The [PAGE 25] river-banks wind on both sides, making a succession of pretty coves, and as we ascend, the stream gradually narrows, becoming quite contracted as the steamboat approaches Burlington, a town apparently almost hidden by the trees. On the Pennsylvania shore is a smooth beach, the location of the old Badger Shad Fishery. Above this the river broadens, forming two channels around Burlington Island, the town of Burlington being on the right hand, and Bristol over in a cove on the left, with the low wooded shore of the island between. Burlington is a thickly-built town, extending some distance along the river, and having several boat-landings. It has a ferry to Bristol, with a little odd-looking ferry-boat. As we approached, this craft with its thin smoke-pipe on one side was steaming across the river. Our steamer landed some passengers and freight, and then followed the little ferry-boat over to Bristol, which is clustered along the cove, with a standpipe rising above the trees at the upper end, and quite a number of old-time houses on the bank, while at the lower part of the town the Delaware Division Canal comes out to the river, bringing its traffic down from the Lehigh coal region. As we neared the landing, the powerful tow-boat "Bristol" was making a long sweep around with its trail of at least a dozen empty barges, getting them into position to enter the canal. Mill Creek comes into the Delaware at Bristol, and the town is one of the most ancient on the river. It was the first county-seat of Bucks County, the original court-house having been built of logs, and replaced by a brick building as early as 1705. Its St. James' Episcopal Church was built in 1712 and its Quaker meetinghouse in 1714. The river-bank above Bristol has been much improved of late years by the erection of new houses, so that now it is quite picturesque. Here begin the broad acres of the Landreth seed-farm, at Bloomsdale, which extends along the Pennsylvania shore for a great distance, and back from the river as far as the eye can see. The farm covers, I am told, six hundred acres, and presents a succession of fine houses and gardens, beautiful foliage and fruit-trees, and highly cultivated fields.


The Delaware River, as we all know, is not a very straight-running stream. Above here it makes a sudden bend to the [PAGE 26] right, changing from northwest to northeast, and beginning a series of gyrations that continue for miles. Across a tongue of land the smokes of Trenton can be seen scarcely four miles away, yet the crooked river makes us almost turn our backs upon it and pursue a tortuous course of fourteen miles to reach the town. Here are the Hellings' ice-houses for fruit storage and preservation, and just above Dr. Morwitz, of the German Democrat, has a country home, where he retires to meditate the purchase of more newspapers to add to the large number he already possesses. Tullytown is in the distance, and some of its people came out to the river to see the steamboat stop at the little wharf. Opposite, the river's sharp bend is made around Florence Point and its foundry, while above, the bluffs along the shore gradually rise into Florence Heights, once a noted excursion-ground, but now eclipsed by more modern resorts. The Pennsylvania shore, above Tullytown, is that region of fine farms and high cultivation known as Penn's Manor, and the locality where his country-house formerly stood is still pointed out, near the river-bank. This house was a marvel in its day; it covered sixty by forty feet, and Penn resided in it in 1700 and 1701, until he left for England. He never returned to America, and before the Revolution the house, which had fallen into decay, was taken down. Before the beginning of the present century the entire estate at Penn's Manor had been sold out of the Penn family.

Droves of cows and calves come down to the water's edge at Florence landing, and the cove above is filled with lumber rafts. The Heights rise up apparently like a small mountain, the shores we have passed being so low. Above here the river widens and becomes very shallow, the channel being close to the Jersey shore. On these shallows fine ice is harvested, and the Knickerbocker Company has put up large ice-houses on the banks to store it. Here the broad Kinkora Creek comes in, where, in the days anterior to railroads, the boat transferred the New York passengers to the stages that took them across Jersey. A remnant of the old wharf still remains. The river again becomes narrow, and around a bend to the left is seen White Hill, on the Jersey shore, a busy place in years gone by, for here are the abandoned Camden and Amboy Railroad shops stretching along the bank [PAGE 27] with the railroad alongside them. Their occupation has been gone since the Pennsylvania Railroad's assumption of the New Jersey lines, but they are to be given new life by other parties as a locomotive-works. A bluff shore rises behind the shops, and at White Hill landing, as we stopped a moment, a little girl on a canal-boat was engaged in hanging out the family wash, while a boy stood by with his hands in his pockets, possibly wondering whether he might not get a sufficient start in life on that canal-boat to become a second Garfield.

Just above the White Hill shops Crosswick's Creek flows into the Delaware, making a pretty depression between the hills, with the steeples of Bordentown seen up the creek in the distance. On the left hand rises the bold shore of Bonaparte's Park, while on both sides of the creek the railway runs, up to that odd station at Bordentown, where the cars for Am boy go under the ancient railway office and the street in front. This was a famous place in the olden time. The railway magnates assembled there to rule the Commonwealth that our ancestors called the "State of Camden and Amboy," and here with their through lines running under the old house in which they met, they controlled the politics of New Jersey and declared magnificent dividends. I remember attending a Camden and Amboy annual meeting when a boy, on the day when the news arrived from England by steamer of the result of the famous Heenan and Sayres prize-fight, an event in which America took much interest. The train with the New York papers ran under the house, and an excited railway magnate getting a copy of the New York Herald, the proceedings were suspended while he read the account of the fight. But the glory has departed from the old house over the station. Its people no longer pull the Jersey railroad wires.


At Crosswick's Creek the Delaware and Raritan Canal begins its course, running up alongside the river to Trenton, and then across Jersey to New Brunswick. This is one of the great canals of the country, carrying a heavy tonnage, chiefly of coal, and forming the inside water route between Philadelphia and New York. The railway that runs along the [PAGE 28] canal-bank was formerly the great route of travel between the two cities, but it is now superseded by the shorter line crossing the Delaware at South Trenton. Dredges are endeavoring to improve the canal entrance, and have done good work below, but do not seem to have accomplished much above, where one was at work when we passed. The river-shores here are low, and we came in sight of Trenton at the shallow place, about three miles below the town, known as Periwig Island Bar. Here there is not over two and a half feet depth at low water, and to get over these shallows, the "Edwin Forrest" has to make her voyages according to the tides, timing her movements so as to reach Trenton just at high water. She does not draw over five feet, yet, to get through this difficult place, she has to slow speed and make zigzag turns. There has been considerable work done here at dredging, but it does not seem to have accomplished much permanent good, as the ice in winter sweeps back the gravel dredged out of the channel and deposited on the adjacent shore. The passage through which the steamer can go is barely eighty feet wide, requiring careful navigation. Last winter the ice jammed on this bar, and when the spring freshet came down it made a new channel across Penn's Manor, the water coming out near Tullytown. The 'twisting river, with its pretty shores, makes attractive scenery below Trenton, and by a bend to the right the railway bridge across the Delaware is opened up. We pass Morris Island, a favorite excursion-ground for Trenton, and go through clear water over a rocky bottom, where, in the season, they catch most delicious shad, better than in the less pure waters below. Trenton appears a low-lying town, with a few steeples showing up above the pretty little Riverview Cemetery on the right hand, and on the Pennsylvania shore is Morrisville, named after Robert Morris, who had his country home there, while it was also for three years the place of exile of the French General Moreau. Big rafts float along, interfering with the steamboat movements in the narrow channel. Huge iron- and steel-works line the river-bank, above which and almost up to the railroad bridge is the wharf where the journey stops. We land with the other passengers; freight comes off and goes on; a new lot of travellers embark, including an itinerant band with harp, hand-organ, and monkey; [PAGE 29] the steamboat swings around, and soon starts off on her trip back to Philadelphia.


Trenton is a thriving city, and will repay a visit. The Assunpink Creek divides it into two sections, and it was one of the earliest settlements of this part of the country, as old as Philadelphia, and named after William Trent, a Jersey lawmaker one hundred and fifty years ago. Historically it is famous for its battle-ground, now built over to such an extent as to seriously interfere with the periodical sham battles of Trenton, with which the patriotic in these parts revive Revolutionary memories. At the last one, the "Hessians," it was noticed, wore the finest clothes and won the most applause. Trenton at present is best known for her Legislature's skill in saving Jerseymen from taxes, and for her potteries. As New Jersey controls the great line of travel between Philadelphia and New York, the traffic across the State supports the State Government, pays most of the State expenses, and has preserved the Commonwealth almost without debt. We may smile at the "Spaniard," but we pay him toll in the form of "transit dues" every time we cross the State to New York, and he feeds us from his market-gardens, while we eat the victuals on chinaware which usually originates in Trenton, though sometimes bearing marks that look as if it came across the sea. Going about the attractive town, so much of which is made up of fine houses with front gardens, it looks as if potteries, with their conical kilns, had been dropped down at random, and as if we were in a section of Holland, there are so many canals to cross. The Delaware and Raritan Canal and its feeders manage to make almost every street cross them on little swing drawbridges which quickly open to let the barges pass. The potteries do a heavy business. There are over twenty of them, some very large, and they make the chinaware of ordinary character that is found in every house. The town is built over beds of clay, and it is no wonder that they can thus dig out of the soil of New Jersey the materials to make three-fourths of the entire crockery manufacture of the country, and can themselves roll up an annual product worth several millions. The English potters have settled here extensively, and, in [PAGE 30] some places, they also do the finest decoration. At Dean's rooms, fine specimens of decoration on imported porcelain are to be seen, but the artists are all French and English. In fact, the whole pottery trade for which Trenton is noted seems a section of Europe, set down on our domestic clay-beds, to reproduce here the goods which merchants once brought over the ocean, but can now get at home.

Clinton Street, in Trenton, is a very fine avenue, with attractive houses on either side, and an excellent pavement. The Model School buildings are on this street, near where the "Swamp Angel" cannon, once so destructive at Charleston, is now doing peaceful duty as an ornament for a drinking-fountain. On State Street is the new post-office, which Uncle Sam has recently built at a cost of a half-million, and the old State House, where the Legislature meets to device methods of making somebody else support the State government. This building fronts the street, with grounds running back to the river, here a shallow stream, its bed filled with rocks and boulders, while farther up State Street is a succession of ornate residences, with ample grounds extending to the river-shore. A few hours spent in going about this city will disclose a thriving community, and then, as the day wears away, we are ready to return home. The homeward journey can be made by steamboat, as we came, or by either of the railroads. We will take the Pennsylvania line, which treats us to the novelty of running under the canals (instead of going over the water as is usually done), and then crosses the Delaware by the great iron bridge. This homeward journey demonstrates the superiority in time of railways over water navigation. The lovely steamboat ride up the Delaware took three hours and a half; the railway brought us home in forty minutes.


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