The Historic Fairmount Water Works: Inside & Out

Tour this National Historic Landmark, Civil Engineering Landmark, and National Mechanical Engineering Landmark, beginning outdoors (weather permitting). Our tour guide extraordinaire, Ken Hinde, will then take you inside the Revival buildings for a journey into today’s interpretive center, connecting the Water Works’ past and present purpose. You can also sit in the intimate Engine House Theater and see an award-winning 15-minute film on the site’s important role in Philadelphia’s history before touring exhibit areas on your own. Register here.

A Walk Along the Parkway

Philadelphia’s Parkway references the most beautiful cities of Old Europe. Discover the magnificent buildings along Philadelphia’s own Champs-Élysées and what lies beneath them. Start at the Fairmount Water Works, where wheels once pumped the City’s drinking water, then embark on a mile-long stroll down the picturesque path to Logan Square and back again. Ideal for history buffs, cultural connoisseurs and architectural mavens. PLEASE NOTE: Comfortable shoes strongly encouraged for this walking tour. Registrants will be contacted in the event of cancellation due to inclement weather. Register here.

Along the Garden Path: Fountains Revived & Gardens Restored


Join us as we explore gardens and fountains lost and restored, and enjoy the beauty of the banks of the Schuylkill River. Stops along the way include: the Fountain of the Sea Horses, located in the traffic circle just outside the Water Works site; the nearby Azalea Garden; and a replica of William Rush’s Nymph & Bittern in the South Garden. Register here.

We Drink the River!

The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center is offering a special bus tour of the Philadelphia Water Department’s drinking water system. Learn how it’s connected to our rivers, including past and present-day infrastructure that brings us clean and safe drinking water every day. Register here.

River Reimagined: A Land & Water Tour

Learn about the Fairmount Water Works, one of Philadelphia’s first tourist attractions, and cruise the Schuylkill for a new perspective on sites along this historic river. After a brief tour of the Fairmount Water Works, stroll through the beautifully landscaped South Garden, and along the Schuylkill Banks for a 1.5 mile walk to the Walnut Street dock to board a boat for a 1-hour narrated cruise. Register here.

Small Group Tours

The following off-site tours, offered to groups of 6-15 people, explore the past, present, and future impact of this national historic landmark and the surrounding watershed.

Hills of the Wissahickon

(This is a two-hour, three-mile loop hike over trails, roads, and some hills. Wear sturdy shoes or hiking sandals. Ages 8+ are welcome. Maximum group size is 15.) Join local Roxborough resident and Fairmount Water Works environmental educator Sandy Sorlien as we tromp the wooded valley of the Wissahickon and Monoshone Creeks. We’ll learn the history, engineering, and ecology of several special sites. First we’ll walk downhill through the forest overlooking Forbidden Drive along the “Wiss”. Your guide will put all these sites into a context of the larger Schuylkill River watershed and the urban water use cycle. We will visit the interceptor sewer, RittenhouseTown, and Saylor Grove constructed wetland.

Falling Waters of the Schuylkill (Offered in April, October, & November)

Learn about the connection of the original Schuylkill Navigation dams with the urban water cycle locally, and with the City of Philadelphia’s landmark water system. See firsthand the thriving ecology of Pennsylvania’s River of the Year for 2014, as we look for birds, turtles and fish. Several dams have fishways (fish ladders) that have enabled the return of the shad every spring.  Your guide is watershed educator, urban planner, river photographer and (intermediate) birder Sandy Sorlien, from the Fairmount Water Works.

Flat Rock Dam #31 and Lock 68, Shawmont – You may know the Manayunk Canal behind Main Street, but what about the other end? This walk centers on the Shawmont (Philadelphia) side of Flat Rock Dam, which was originally constructed in 1818. Sites include the historic Shawmont train station, Schuylkill River Trail, former Roxborough Pumping Station, a hidden fountain, and ruins of Lock 68. The lock and its sluice house are at the head one of only two remaining “watered” canal reaches from the 19th century Schuylkill Navigation system. The Flat Rock Dam Fishway is visible across the river, and new native trees, transit-oriented development, and birds and turtles adorn the canal. Everything reflects on the present and future of Philadelphia’s water supply, Schuylkill watershed health, and riverfront recreation. Packed dirt and gravel surfaces.

* indicates required field

For a Drinking Water or Wastewater Treatment Plant tour, please complete this form.

Upcoming Events

  1. “Philadelphia’s Breweries on the Schuylkill” (Rich Wagner, Beer Historian)

    June 9 @ 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
  2. We Drink the River!

    September 22 @ 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  3. We Drink the River!

    November 3 @ 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM