New Croton Dam – Get to the Top!

Are you the kind of person who loves the simple majesty of nature with a little human intervention? Visit what was once the world’s largest dam. This is your chance to become enthralled by the beauty of the park, the dam, and the waterfalls.


Dam construction started in 1892. However, the Aqueduct Commission started acquiring land for its construction as early as 1880. At the time, this Dam was a huge undertaking. They had to demolish four towns and six cemeteries to get enough space. It had to be constructed to meet New York City’s Growing water supply needs.

This was the Second Croton Dam. The same stonemasons who worked on it who built the previous dam. They were much older now. Italian stonemasons were also employed and relocated to the US.

To build the dam safely for eight years, they first created a crescent-shaped diversion canal to keep the water away. The canal had proper walls built like a permanent structure. Once it was safe, the work started. The masonry was steadily built up until it reached 110 feet in 1896.

Cracks began to form in the dam around 1901. That’s when the masonry was extended towards the south of the valley. The work didn’t stop for the night, rain, or snow. During the winter, they steamed the rocks and added salt to the mortar to prevent it from freezing. Work was only paused when the temperatures dropped to twenty degrees below zero.

Close to a hundred deaths were involved in building this dam. That’s why there’s a rumor that when New Yorkers first turned the water on, blood and finger fragments came through the faucets.

The workers began getting frustrated with working ten-hour shifts for only $1.30. On April first, 1900, they organized a strike. They refused to continue working with the treatment they were getting.

By April seventeenth, Camp Roosevelt hosted 1500 men, an entire Seventh Regiment National Guard. They were called in to control the riot. Most of the newspaper headlines sympathized with the worker’s plight. The Mayor of New York at the time, Seth Low, made the 8-hour work day mandatory. We still use this conventional shift timing today. The work continued.

In January of 1906, after fourteen years of work, the world’s second-largest hand-hewn structure and its largest dam was finished. For reference, the world’s largest hand-hewn structures are the ancient pyramids. This is the only such architectural undertaking so close to the present. It might also be the last with how architecture is innovating.

The Finished Dam stands two hundred and eighty feet high and about a hundred and twenty-eight feet underground. It has a thousand-foot-long spillway. The water flowing down the spillway provide a fantastic view.

The total length of the dam is two thousand one hundred and eighty-eight feet long. 

Croton Gorge Park

Croton Gorge Park is a 92-acre park open to the public at the dam’s base. There are several gorgeous views of the dam, and the Croton river starts there. One of the best views of the dam’s stunning spillway is atop the bridge that runs across the croton river.

Activities at Croton Gorge Park

In Croton gorge park, you come to appreciate the views of the dam’s impressive structure but stay for the fun. Croton Gorge park offers many summer and winter activities for locals and tourists alike.


Shore Fishing is allowed at the Croton river. The river’s first mile at the base of the dam is stocked with rainbow trout once a year. Who says you must drive several hours away to catch a big trout? You can enjoy fishing barely an hour’s drive from the big apple.

You can fish right through the winter. Ice fishing is a great way to pass the time with a fantastic dam view.

Leaf Peeping

Do you love to watch the trees change colors? What better place to see autumn’s beauty than Croton Gorge park? You can see the brilliance of nature and historic architecture on one trip.

We might have just found your next favorite photo shoot site. You can have a waterfall, a stunning spillway, a bridge, autumn leaves, or all of the above as a background for your photos.

Cross Country Skiing

You can visit the dam and park in all seasons. If the conditions are favorable, you can ski any day of the week while the sun is up. You can enjoy skiing on marked trails. Sledding, however, isn’t allowed in the park.

Ice Skating

The frozen river is magical to look at in the winter. Ice skating is a favorite New York pass time. You can enjoy skating as long as it’s light outside. At night it’s not safe without proper lighting available.


Hiking is another great activity you can enjoy when you visit the park. There are several trails you can conquer during your time there, including:

  • The old croton aqueduct dam
  • The old croton aqueduct Trail way
  • Tea town lake preserve three lakes loop


Picnicking at the park is a no-brainer. When you come to see the dam and explore the trails, that’ll build up quite the appetite. You can sit with your family on the ground or at a picnic table and feast away. Kids can play in the playgrounds available too. Drinking water is available, and a baseball field for a family game is available. We recommend going early to avoid crowds.


You must think there’s nothing you can’t do here when there’s so much fun stuff to do. Wrong, swimming and lighting campfires is a strict no-go. There is no lifeguard, and the river flows too fast to swim safely. The park is not a designated campsite. To discourage camping, lighting fires is strictly prohibited. That includes charcoal or gas grills.

The possession and consumption of alcohol are not allowed either. You can’t play music aloud. People come here to hear the water and enjoy the peace.

 You are welcome to use headphones if you like. And lastly, you cannot hunt since the area is so close to residences. It’s unsafe. Instead of camping, you can find nearby lodgings in Croton-on-Hudson or Peekskill.


Just an hour’s drive from New York City, you can explore a historical site that still performs its job today. The New Croton Dam is spectacular. When you go to see it, you can enjoy a wide array of fun activities or just walk along the wonderful park at its base.

The McClain Family

We hope we helped. Please let us know of any place that you want to know about in NYS or if we did a poor job with any part of this. Our goal is to help as many people as possible.

Recent Posts