My "Edgar Allan Poe Belongs to Philly" speech (or should I start calling it the "Let's dig up Edgar"
speech) for the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society on Wed night went very well. We had a good attendance of 25-30 people who asked some great questions following my talk. Thanks to RMWHS president Karen Sears, and also John Hartman and Sylvia Myers, who both saw me deliver this speech at the Manayunk Arts Center in Feb.
I had the pleasure of meeting some great people including local Poe (and Griswold) scholar, Rob Velella, who gave me some good feedback about my talk, and Nick Bucci who had lots of info about the Wissahickon Creek and whom I hope to be soon joining for a tour of the area. The Wissahickon was a favorite spot for Poe while he lived in Philly and he wrote about it in the piece, "Morning on the Wissahiccon," later reprinted as "The Elk:"
the Wissahiccon, a brook, (for more it can scarcely be called,) which empties itself into the Schuylkill, about six miles westward of Philadelphia. Now the Wissahiccon is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue . . . The Wissahiccon, however, should be visited, not like "fair Melrose,'' by moonlight, or even in cloudy weather, but amid the brightest glare of a noonday sun; for the narrowness of the gorge through which it flows, the height of the hills on either hand, and the density of the foliage, conspire to produce a gloominess, if not an absolute dreariness of effect, which, unless relieved by a bright general light, detracts from the mere beauty of the scene.
George Lippard was also a lover of the Wissahickon (see my post on the Quaker City blog) and
included it as a setting in several of his works. Lippard married his wife on a rock overlooking the creek by moonlight. One source says they married on May 14, 1847, but I haven't been able to confirm this. We're not even sure which rock it was. I suggested Mom Rinker's Rock, but Nick Bucci thought it was another one across the stream. So, if you are around the creek on May 14, don't be surprised if you see a fat, bearded, middle-aged man, huffing and puffing his way up to a rock.
(photos by my lovely wife, Kate)