Part II of “Running down the Old Croton Aqueduct”: From the Croton Dam to Rockwood – 10 miles
I’ve been a little haphazard with my posts lately, but here’s the next installment of my Running Down the Old Croton Aqueduct series. (Here’s the first one if you have somehow missed it.)
First, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the link to the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct website. They’re a non-profit organization who do great work protecting and preserving the OCA. They have sponsored historical signs all along the Aqueduct, host guided walks, and post interesting information on their website. Check them out!
Now, generally, I run just a three-mile stretch of the Aqueduct – from the Croton Dam down to GE’s Jack E. Welch campus and then back up to the Dam. But, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve slowly been working my way down the entire length of the Aqueduct. So far, I’ve gotten about 15 miles down.
I started this project last spring, when a group of my running friends and I ran a 10-mile section from the Croton Dam down to Rockwood, in Rockefeller State Park.
Here’s what we saw:
Starting at Croton Dam (and the Dam deserves a dedicated blog post unto itself – soon!), the first three miles are fairly remote and serene – it’s mostly just you, some trees and the unpaved trail. (And it’s all a gentle downhill too — sloping thirteen inches for every mile the whole way to the city.)
About a mile south of the Dam, you’ll pass the Egon Ottinger cottage on your right just off the trail (previously blogged about here.) Also around here, you’ll pass the first of what I believe are 26 remaining ventilator shafts that help mark the miles down to New York City. These chimney-like structures were built to help keep the aqueduct at atmospheric pressure so the water would keep flowing fresh and swift.
Over the next couple of miles, you’ll cross two roads that are fairly secluded with only the rare car sighting. (One of those roads, Quaker Bridge Road East, will take you up to Lorraine Hansberry’s Croton home if you’re interested. See more here.
Once you hit the GE campus, you’ll do a bit of narrow, windy trail running and go underneath Route 9A. (The Aqueduct actually crosses 9A, but obviously you don’t want to do that.)
About four miles in, you get into the Village of Ossining. Here, you’ll get to run past the Ossining Waste Weir, one of six built to allow drainage if the water level in the aqueduct tunnel rose too high. There are wonderfully medieval-looking, subterranean hand-cranked metal gates here once used to divert the water – you can go down and see the one in Ossining on special occasions. Here are some terrific pictures from a local blog, both of the underground portion of the weir and of the trail down to Sleepy Hollow. (I don’t run with my phone, so I have to depend on the kindness of strangers.)
Then, you’ll run over the iconic double arches, which have, at various times, made up Ossining’s logo:
Here’s another version:
Here’s an excellent local blog with much more detail on and history of the double arches.
Continuing down the Aqueduct, you’ll run through the center of the Village of Ossining, on sidewalks, through Nelson Park, along and across Route 9 until you hit what I consider the next interesting site, located down in Sparta/Scarborough — the birthplace of John L. Worden, the famed Commander of the USS Monitor. Perhaps you’ve noticed this sign while driving along Route 9?
Of course you remember the famous tale of the Monitor and the Merrimac, the first engagement of ironclad steamships during the Civil War that changed naval battle strategy forever. No? Well, check out Wikipedia here for more on that story.
Right across the street from the John Worden historical marker is the old Frank Vanderlip estate, formerly called Beechwood and now a fancy condominium complex mostly enclosed by a red brick wall.
To avoid running on Route 9, we crossed over here and went down Scarborough Station Road a bit, before winding left through a quiet suburban neighborhood. (Fun fact: I’ve heard that James Patterson, currently one our most prolific and highest earning authors alive today has a house in the area . . .)
Hooking onto River Road, we ran almost all the way back up to Route 9, but turned right at the last possible moment. (To our left was the Clearview School, formerly the Scarborough School, and originally built by the Vanderlips.) Here, we turned right onto a thin trail winding through grass and woods leading us into Rockefeller State Park through a back way. This was familiar territory to all of us, as Rockefeller (aka “Rockies”) is a popular place to run.
This is wonderfully secluded and bucolic, with a combination of narrow and carriage-width trails winding all the way to the foundation of Rockwood Hall where we ended our 10-mile run.
Stay tuned for the next four miles, coming up soon!