Hidden deep in Fairmount Park lies one of Philadelphia’s strangest and most mysterious oddities. The Cave of Klepius is thought by some to have been the site of America’s first Doomsday Cult, a group known as “the Hermits of the Wissahickon” or “The Society of the Woman in the Wilderness.” Skeptics posit that the cave is simply an old springhouse. Regardless of what you believe, our Philadelphia adoption agents think it’s well worth the effort to seek out this strange site.
The Hermits of the Wissahickon
According to the legend, a group of German settlers called The Hermits of the Wissahickon settled on a hillside above the Wissahickon Creek in 1694. This group was led by a mystical guru named Johannes Kelpius, and he and his followers believed that the Second Coming would be arriving soon. They chose this wild section of modern-day Philadelphia to meditate and await this second coming. Other names attributed to this group include “The Society of the Woman in the Wilderness” and the “Mystic Brotherhood.”
Some have referred to this group as America’s first Doomsday Cult. During this time period, other settlers often sought out monks from the group for their expertise in medicine, music, and other disciplines like astronomy and botany.
Today, there is a marker at the cave that declares Kelpius as the first Rosicrucian master in America. The Rosicrucians are a worldwide group that claims to have secret knowledge from the ancient Egyptians and classifies itself as a philosophical and fraternal group.
Finding the Cave of Kelpius
Because of the cave’s location deep inside of the Wissahickon, it can be a bit hard to locate. Though it takes some effort, we think it’s worth it. Here’s how to find the Cave of Klepius from Philadelphia:
- Take Ridge Avenue from Philadelphia to the beginning of the Wissahickon Bike Trail
- Turn right onto the trail
- Follow the trail into the woods (either on foot or by bike) along Lincoln Drive for about a mile
- Turn left and keep an eye out for the cave, you’ll spot it soon
Or, you could take this alternate route:
- Take Ridge Avenue to Lauriston Street and turn right
- Turn left onto Righter Street
- Turn right onto Rock Street
- Continue onto Quentin Street
- Turn right to arrive at Daisy Field, near the cave
We personally love hiking through the Wissahickon, as it’s one of the most beautifully preserved natural areas of Philadelphia. So don’t sweat the effort to get here, as you’ll still be treated to some gorgeous scenery along the way.