Croton Gorge County Park

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History of the Croton Dam

Croton Gorge Park is a Westchester County park at the base of the New Croton Dam in New York. The original Croton Dam was built in 1842 and carried water to New York City via a 41-mile underground aqueduct. To build it, the county moved four towns and exhumed and relocated bodies from six cemeteries.

The New Croton Dam replaced the original in 1906 to increase the city’s water supply. The dam impounds up to 19 billion gallons of water in Croton Reservoir. It’s unique in that its spillway is both natural and man-made. A naturally formed waterfall cascades down to the Croton river alongside a 297-foot stepped masonry structure.

When it first opened, it was the tallest dam in the world. Along with its sprawling retaining wall, it is the third largest hand-hewn structure in the world. It is behind only the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China. Maybe it should have been named the Great Dam of New York.

The city replaced the bridge over the spillway twice, in 1975 and 2005. New York City permanently closed the bridge to vehicles after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The Dam was also guarded during both World Wars.

An Autumn Visit to Croton Gorge Park

I visited Croton Gorge Park with a photography group after taking foliage pictures on the other side of the Hudson. We took photos of the huge waterfall from the base and from the park’s bridge over the river.

Next, we found the trail to the top of the dam. Via some long, gradual switchbacks through the woods, we reached the top of the retaining wall. We walked along the length to the bridge over the falls. From up high, the gorge is more apparent.

On the way back down to the parking lot, I noticed a sign for the Old Aqueduct Trail. This trail begins at Croton Gorge Park and follows the original underground aqueduct for 26 miles to the Bronx.

Location: 35 Yorktown Rd, Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520
Designation: County Park
Date designated/established: 1964
Date of my visit: October 18, 2020

Croton Gorge Park

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