Westchester Dam Makes for Eye-opening Day Trip

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New Croton Dam Spillway

Water from the New Croton Reservoir cascades down a rock spillway constructed at the turn of the previous century.

What a pleasant surprise!We recently hopped in the car for a local day trip and decided on the New Croton Dam as a destination. We’re familiar with the magnificent Kensico Dam in Valhalla but had no idea what to expect from this other stone structure up in the northwest corner of Westchester County.

New Croton Dam

The Dam stands just under 300 feet tall and holds back billions of gallons of drinking water for the City of New York

The GPS took us through wooded rural lanes, past lovely old homes nestled near idyllic ponds and wildflower strew fields. After less than an hour in the car, we came to a stop near an unmanned security barrier, parked on the shoulder and proceeded on foot along a two lane highway bordered by a metal fence on either side. It took a several moments to realize we were atop the dam facing the brimming New Croton Reservoir on one side and a stunning vista on the other as if we’d just climbed a mountain and were looking down lush green world nurtured by a steady flow of clear running water.

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The west side of the dam holds the most spectacular view: a hand-built rock spillway and man-made waterfall that drops in a series of massive steps to the valley floor below.There is a park in the plaza below the dam and we could see hikers ascending the trail to the top, just as others who’d arrived like us, were making their way to the bottom. The roadway atop the dam continues over the spillway on a bridge that arches over the gorge below.

It’s a glorious place to spend time. Heavy brass plaques on the dam identify it as landmark of civil engineering. (Former NYC Mayor Robert Van Wyck is listed as an Aqueduct Commissioner) It’s owned by New York City and is part of Gotham’s vast water supply system.

New Croton Spillway Bridge

At the west side of the dam a bridge arches over the gorge fed by the dam’s spillway.

New Croton Dam Roadway

From the top of the dam it’s just a road until you look over the railings.

New Croton Dam Plaque

A brass plaque on the roadway atop the New Croton Dam

View from the New Croton Dam

South of the dam, the Croton River continues its way to the Hudson.

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