Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

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COVID-19 UPDATE: While New York State Park grounds, forests and trails are currently open, please note that parking, indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks may be limited or closed to prevent community spread of COVID-19. If you do plan on visiting, we ask all visitors to recreate local, meaning choose parks close to home, practice social distancing and use common sense to protect yourself and others. Learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on NY State Park operations, visit: https://parks.ny.gov/covid19/

Address
15 Walnut Street (Park Office)
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Latitude 41.165663865699997
Longitude -73.863171282699994

Watch Tom Tarnowsky's Presentation on the History of the Old Croton Aqueduct in Westchester County: https://aqueduct.org/news/watch-tom-tarnowsky-s-lecture

During the 1830s New York City was in dire need of a fresh water supply to combat the steady rise of disease and to fight numerous fires that often engulfed large tracts of businesses and homes. After numerous proposals and an abandoned plan two years into its production, construction of an unprecedented magnitude began in 1837 under the expertise of John Bloomfield Jervis. The proposed plan called for a 41-mile aqueduct and dam to be built in order to run water from the Croton River to New York City. Three to four thousand workers, mostly Irish immigrants earning up to $1.00 per day, completed the masonry marvel in just five years. In 1842 water flowed into above-ground reservoirs located at the present sites of the New York Public Library and the Great Lawn of Central Park. Throngs of people attended the formal celebration held on October 14th and celebrated with "Croton cocktails" - a mix of Croton water and lemonade.

This 19th-century architectural achievement cost New York City approximately 13 million dollars and was believed able to provide New Yorkers with fresh water for centuries to come. The population spiraled upward at a dizzying rate, however, and the Croton Aqueduct, which was capable of carrying 100 million gallons per day, could no longer meet New York City's needs by the early 1880s. Construction of the New Croton Aqueduct began in 1885 and water began to flow by 1890. Although no longer the sole supplier of fresh water, the Old Croton Aqueduct continued to provide water to New York City until 1965.

In 1968, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation purchased 26.2 miles of the original 41-mile aqueduct from New York City. Presently, Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park is a linear park which runs from Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx County/City of Yonkers border to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt. In 1987 a section was reopened to supply the Town of Ossining and in 1992 the Old Croton Aqueduct was awarded National Historic Landmark Status. The scenic path over the underground aqueduct winds through urban centers and small communities. It passes near numerous historic sites, preserves, a museum highlighting the construction of the Aqueduct, and many homes. The Aqueduct's grassy ceiling provides abundant recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. While primarily for walking and running, parts of the trail are suitable for horseback riding, biking (except during "mud season"), bird watching, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. 


 

Aqueduct Education Project

Did you know? The Aqueduct Education project offers hands-on student tours and programs at three different historic sites in the Old Croton Aqueduct Historic State Park. Learn more about the variety of programs we offer: Aqueduct Education Project

Don't miss these popular destinations and attractions within or near this historic park

 
  • Double Arch-a unique bridge-within-a-bridge, located in Ossining across from the Ossining Museum
  • Kykuit-the Rockefeller's estate
  • New Croton Dam-an unusual spillway makes for a pretty waterfall at the state of the Croton River
  • Ossining Museum-located in Ossining across from the Double Arch contains a small exhibit on the history of the Old Croton Aqueduct
  • Keeper's House-located in Dobbs Ferry, it was once the residence for the caretaker of the Aqueduct, it is the future home of the OCA's Visitor Center
  • Weir Chambers-located along the trail at various locations, they were constructed to enable Overseers and Caretakers to control the flow of water through the Aqueduct for repairs, inspections or to completely drain the line.  Also look for the ventilators that are located along the trail, constructed to ventilate the aqueduct.
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      The Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct offer a detailed map and brochure to help visitors use the Aqueduct Trail to connect to numerous destinations in Westchester County. To purchase a brochure, please visit http://www.aqueduct.org/. Funds raised from the brochure help the Friends offer tours, programming, and improvements for the park.

      Hours of Operation

      • Old Croton Aqueduct's trail is accessible from multiple cross streets over 26 miles. For a map of the trail please see the Map. 15 Walnut Street is the location of the Park Office, however it is not the start or end of the trail. The Aqueduct has no parking areas of its own, but ample parking is available on most nearby streets.

      • There is no charge to use the trail.

        Tours:
        Many are free but charges apply to some. Ossining Weir Chamber, Adults $5; children $2 To schedule tours of the Weir Chamber call Mavis Cain (914) 693-0529. For general questions about walks and tours, contact Sara Kelsey (646) 303-1448. A list of events is available at www.aqueduct.org or by clicking the "Upcoming Events" button on this page. Occasional programs/tours are offered in cooperation with Joseph G. Caputo Ossining Community Center, call for details (914) 941-3189
      • Park is open year round from sunrise to sunset.

      Aqueduct Education Project
        
      The Aqueduct Education project offers hands-on student tours and programs at three different historic sites in the Old Croton Aqueduct Historic State Park. Learn more about the variety of programs we offer: Aqueduct Education Project


      Teachers take advantage of The Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program 

      The Connect Kids will refund up to $1,000* of the field trip costs for visits to a New York State Park, Nature Center, or Historic Site (Parks), or a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Education Center, fish hatchery, or selected DEC sites. Eligibility: Title 1 schools AND any public school in a district with a Title 1 school (grades preK-12 including school-sponsored clubs), Advantage After School Programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and village, town, or county youth bureaus in communities with Title 1 schools are eligible to apply. Each class or afterschool/youth bureau group is eligible for one transportation grant per academic year. Learn more

      The Aqueduct was built to help supply water to New York City, owing in part to its inadequate water supply. Major David B. Douglass, a West Point engineering professor, was the project's first chief engineer. He was succeeded in 1836 by John B. Jervis of Rome, New York, whose experience was in canal and railroad building. Construction, begun in 1837, was carried out largely by Irish immigrant labor.

      An elliptical tube 8 ½ feet high by 7 ½ feet wide, the Aqueduct is brick-lined for most of its length, with a coating of hydraulic cement at bridge crossings and outer walls of hammered stone. Designed on principles dating from Roman times, the gravity-fed tube, dropping gently 13 inches per mile, challenged its builders to maintain this steady gradient through a varied terrain.

      To do so the Aqueduct was cut into hillsides, set level on the ground, tunneled through rock and carried over valleys and streams on massive stone and earth embankments and - at Sing Sing Kill, the Nepperhan (Saw Mill) River and Harlem River - across arched bridges. Typically it is partly buried, with a telltale mound encasing it. As one learns to read the "clues," an understanding of how the tunnel engages the landscape deepens the trail experience.

      Croton water first entered the Aqueduct at 5 a.m. on June 22, 1842 (followed by a dauntless crew in a small boat, the Croton Maid) and emerged at the Harlem River 22 hours later. The water eventually filled two above-ground reservoirs - on the present sites of the Great Lawn in Central Park and the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue - to great civic rejoicing.

      Built to meet the city's needs for 100 years, its capacity was soon exceeded by the spiraling population growth to which is contributed. The New Croton Aqueduct, triple the size, was started in 1885 a few miles to the east and began service in 1890. The Old Aqueduct supplied decreasing amounts of water until 1955. (The northernmost portion reopened in 1989 and continues to supply water to the Town of Ossining.)

      While the state trailway designation ends at the New York City line, the Aqueduct continues for six to seven miles through the Bronx. There its green corridor, managed by New York City Parks & Recreation, follows a southward route through Van Cortlandt Park, past the east edge of Jerome Park Reservoir and along Aqueduct and University avenues to the famed High Bridge, which carried the water in iron pipes across the Harlem River to Manhattan to serve a growing metropolis.

      The park was created in 1968 and encompasses the Westchester County section of the Old Croton Aqueduct, between Croton Gorge County Park and the Yonkers-New York City line. This 26.2-mile portion of the total 41-mile Aqueduct route became Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, a recreational and cultural resource that appeals to a wide range of visitors. Tree-lined and grassy, traversing local villages and varied landscapes, the trail offers glimpses of historic and architectural treasures along the way. Now a National Historic Landmark, the Aqueduct is one of the great engineering achievements of the 19th century.

      Sat 01 May
      I Love My Park Day: Gerlach Park
      Saturday, May 1, 2021 10:00 AM - 02:00 PM
      Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

      Meeting location: Meet at the stairway at the back of Gerlach Park that leads up to the Aqueduct Trail. Special instructions: Park in Gerlach Park, 91 Quaker Bridge Road, Ossining, NY 10562. Look for Volunteer Park Here signs. Late arrivals may climb the stairs and follow directional signs to the event. Rain date: Sunday May 2, 2021

      Project 1: Participants will learn how to identify the targeted invasive species and how to manage them by either cutting or digging them up by the roots. They will also be doing restoration planting with native plants under the expert guidance of a local naturalist. No experience needed.
      Start time: 10:00am End time: 2:00pm
      Appropriate for 13 and up
      Bring garden gloves. Additional tools: Bring your own gloves, loppers and hand saws if you have them, but tools will be available on site. Bring water and snacks. To avoid ticks wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wear sturdy shoes. If you have participated in I Love My Park Day previously, consider wearing your t-shirt.

      Register

      Registration: Required
      Sat 01 May
      I Love My Park Day: Wicker St.
      Saturday, May 1, 2021 10:00 AM - 02:00 PM
      Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

      Meeting Location: On the trail in Yonkers where it crosses Wicker St. This is just South of the Hudson River Museum and a 9 minute walk from the Glenwood Metro North Train Station. Special instructions: Park on nearby residential streets for free, including Lamartine Ave., Wicker Street or Glenwood Avenue. When you arrive check in at the registration table where you will receive your bandanna and name tag. Rain date Sunday, May 2, 2021

      Project 1: The Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway in Yonkers is a hidden gem in the middle of 200,000 people. We will be pruning, clipping, raking, digging and pulling up invasive plants and bagging trash. Area has a slight slope. No experience necessary, enthusiastic crew leaders will guide you. Plan to enjoy the day.
      Start time: 10 am End time: 2 pm
      Appropriate for 13 and up
      Bring garden gloves. Additional tools: Although tools and gloves will be provided, it would be appreciated if you could bring your own gloves, loppers and pruners
      Bring water and snacks. To avoid ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wear sturdy shoes.

      Register

      Registration: Required
      Sat 01 May
      I Love My Park Day: Tibbetts Brook Park
      Saturday, May 1, 2021 10:00 AM - 01:00 PM
      Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

      Meeting location: Meet Norma in front of main building/bathhouse in Tibbetts Brook Park (355 Midland Avenue, Yonkers 10704). Look for "Volunteers hard at work" signs as well as a table with WPF logo Report to the registration table to verify registration and to receive your bandanas. Special instructions: At parking attendant gate, turn right into first parking lot on right-hand side. From this parking lot cross that same road and walk down the hill to the bathhouse near the flagpole. Rain date: Sunday May 2 2021

      Project: Volunteers will remove litter and invasive species from the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Tibbetts Brook Park. Tasks will be available for all ages and skill levels; no experience needed. You will be guided by enthusiastic and experienced crew leaders and at the end of the day you will leave the trail more enjoyable for all to enjoy.
      Start time: 10 am End time: 1 pm
      All ages welcome
      Bring water and snacks. To avoid ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wear sturdy shoes. Remember your masks!

      Register

      Registration: Required
      Sat 01 May
      I Love My Park Day: Quaker Bridge Rd.
      Saturday, May 1, 2021 10:00 AM - 03:00 PM
      Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park

      Meeting Location: On the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Park between houses #124 and #99 on Quaker Bridge Road in Croton on Hudson in designated parking spots marked by Volunteer Park Here signs.

      Although gloves and tools will be available on site, you are encouraged to bring your own gloves, loppers, pruners and handsaws

      Project 1: Participants will learn how to identify the targeted invasive species and how to manage them by either cutting or digging them up by the roots. They will work in teams alongside experienced naturalists. Tasks will be available for all ages and skill levels; no experience necessary. Start time: 10 am End time: 3 pm All ages welcome.

      Project 2: Restoration planting with native plants under the expert guidance of a local naturalist in an area where we have previously removed invasive species. No experience needed. Start time: 10 am End time: 3 pm All ages welcome.

      Project 3: Remove tree strangling vines from the edges of the trail under the expert supervision of a very skilled and experienced arborist. A great opportunity to learn from an expert. Note that this is a hilly area and requires some agility. Start time: 10 am End time: 3 pm Adults 18 and over only.

      Register

      Registration: Required

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      Must See! Peak Fall foliage the 2nd and 3rd week of Ocotber.

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