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Relics and Ruins: A Hike through the Remnants of Park Past

Join us for a hike to learn about some of Fairmount Park’s historical hidden gems!


Saturday, March 4, 2023


4:00am - 7:00am


Woodford Mansion
2300 N. 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19132

As one of America’s oldest urban parks, Fairmount Park has accumulated many layers of history… sometimes literally! A closer exploration of the landscape reveals the ruins of abandoned infrastructure and buildings that go back to the beginnings of the 178 year old park system, and sometimes even further. Most of the year, nature cloaks these hidden treasures in dense growth, but the bare woods of the winter provide the perfect time to go off the beaten path.

Join John Sigmund, Public Programs Manager and park history enthusiast, for a guided exploration of the relics and ruins of Fairmount Park. If you’re fascinated by Philly history and discovering hidden treasures of park past, this hike is not to be missed!

PLEASE NOTE: these hikes will have some challenging sections that require agility. Because we will occasionally venture off trail, you are encouraged to wear sturdy hiking boots and rugged outerwear that can withstand scrapes from sharp sticks and branches (please… no fashion or formal wear! haha).


–3/4 Relics and Ruins, Part I: Eerie East Park (meet at Woodford Mansion): Haunting historic highlights include: an abandoned music pavilion designed by architect of the Gilded Age Horace Trumbauer, the smallest surviving structure designed by Frank Furness, two forgotten spring heads and a spooky springhouse popular in neighborhood lore, a WPA built bathroom, and the hidden ruins of a colonial-era mansion that burnt down 36 years ago.

–3/19 Relics & Ruins, Part II: Weird Wonders of West Park (meet at the Belmont Plateau parking lot):  We’ll start at Belmont Plateau and touch upon a section the Trolley Trail. Next we’ll find the hidden remnants of the rails tracks of the Philadelphia Columbia Railroad. Finally, we’ll explore the ruins of the George’s Hill Reservoir, taking in one of the most secret and spectacular city views.

TICKET PRICES: Pay what you can – $10, $15, or $25
[ Not sure what to pay? Please refer to this Sliding Scale Pricing FAQ for additional info. ]


  • Please dress according to weather conditions.
  • Please wear sturdy shoes suitable for hiking.
  • There are nearby bathrooms along the hike route.
  • Appropriate for adults & mature adolescents (minors must be ticketed and accompanied by a guardian)
  • The hike leaves promptly at the scheduled time. Latecomers may not be able to join the group.

There is plenty of free parking is available in the park. As always, NEVER leave valuables in your car!

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS:  By registering for this event you are agreeing to follow ALL of these protocols:

  • This event has limited capacity. Please only register if you fully intend to attend and let us know if you need to cancel ASAP.
  • If you or anyone in your household are exhibiting COVID-19 systems, please stay home.

GUIDE BIO: John Sigmund is a multidisciplinary artist, history lover, and urban park enthusiast with years of experience as a nonprofit manager and arts educator. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he spent a decade living in Austin, San Antonio and New York City, but made a happy homecoming to go back to school at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. John has the proud distinction of actually living in Fairmount Park– he and his partner Jaime are resident caretakers and tour guides at Woodford Mansion at 33rd & Dauphin. It has been a truly life-changing opportunity that combines his passions for city history, gardening, community service, and the arts and antiques. Although Woodford Mansion is his home base, John is an enthusiastic advocate for all of the historic houses in the park system.

This event will take place in light rain or snow. In the event of heavy rain, snow, or other severe conditions, the event will be cancelled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.