Kelpius's Pennsylvania

The number forty held special meaning in the mystical numerology of which Kelpius and his comrades were familiar. It must have seem divinely ordained when they were offered land which--as far as the accuracy of their measurements were concerned--lay exactly along the 40th paralell.

The beautiful, wild area bewteen Roxborough and Germantown known as the Wissahickon Valley, now lies entirely within the city limits of Philadelphia in Fairmount Park. Since Kelpius' time, the area has been logged, but the centuries have restored it to its wilderness state.

Unfortunately, development around the Wissahickon Valley has polluted the once clear waters of the creek for which it is named. The effects of urban runnoff will eventually cause the ruin of the ecosystem unless dramatic measures are taken. For information on the efforts to preserve the Wissahickon Valley, visit the web site of the Friends of the Wissahickon.

Click on the images to enlarge.

a contemporary photo of the cave of kelpius

Above: The so-called Cave of Kelpius in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley. The concrete jambs on the entranceway were an 19th century addition. The marker was erected by the AMORC organization in 1967.

the cave of kelpius in the late 19th century

Above: Julius Sachse's photo of the Cave approximately 1895.

the wissahickon valley

Above: One of the many wooded trails in the Wissahickon Valley: a view that has survived the centuries.

painting of ancient boulder in the wissahickon

Above: Ancient boulders such as this are reminders that the Wissahickon Valley is one of the oldest geologic formations in North America.

(From a painting by Jonathan D. Scott

a 20th century painting

Above: This charming illustration is from a rare children’s book, circa early 1940s. The print depicts a legend in which the dying Kelpius asks his servant to fling a sealed box into deep water. When he does, the chest explodes and flashes light the sky.

the wissahickon valley as seen under the walnut lane bridge

Above: A stunning photograph of the Wissahickon Valley. Note the wide graveled trail on the right and the dirt footpath on the left.

nik stamp's rendering of the tabernacle in the woods

Above: An amazing recreation of Kelpius' Tabernacle by filmmaker Nik Stamps