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.
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.
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.