Cranberry Lake Preserve a beautiful place with a lot of history

Cranberry Lake Preserve - NY Travel Blog

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One of the beautiful car wreckages

By the end of the 1800s New York City was growing and growing. All its residents needed to drink, to wash, flushing their toilets, and other water consuming activities. The city's local watersheds were way insufficient. So, New York City focused on water sources outside of its limits.

The Croton Reservoir (see here) was a first attempt to get the city "irrigated", later the reservoir was increased by building a bigger dam. But still the need for water was growing. So, a new reservoir was built in 1885, in the valley of the village Kensico (see also next blog!). And once more this turned out to be insufficient. The Kensico Reservoir, was rather small so in 1905 legislation was passed for removing the old gravel dam and construct a new, much bigger granite dam, hugely increasing the capacity of the reservoir.

The quarry

Conveniently enough the land almost next to the old dam contain huge amounts of granite. So the dam's base material could be obtained nearby. This land is nowadays called Cranberry Lake Preserve and has an interesting history. In the 1800 it was mainly used by farmers. During the construction period of the Kensico Dam (1913-1917) the site was buzzing with quarry activities, contained a rock crushing plant, a vast network of railroad tracks, and a dynamite storage building. When the quarry was closed the area was apparently used as some kind of dump-site. In the 1960s an entrepreneur tried to develop the area as a residential area, the depression prevented that from happening, so it ended up in possession of Westchester County, which turned it into a preserve. Until the end of the 1990s the old quarry lakes were the home of the "Birchwood Swim Club" which also facilitated a tennis court.

The ghost tennis court

The weather forecast was bad for today. We would have some sun in the morning and later in the day heavy rain was forecasted. This asked for a nearby and short hike. So, I decided to try a hike from my new book "Hiking the Road to Ruins".

Even without the impressive history and ruins the preserve is worth a visit. It is a nice hilly environment with rocks, swamps, forest, lakes, brooks, etc. After some initial normal trails around the lake and swamps I all of a sudden met the darker history of the preserve, the dump site. At the feet of the quarry walls, in the middle of the bushes I encountered many wreckages of old cars. Just pushed over the edge of the quarry, I also found old TVs, toilets, refrigerators, and even an old truck. The cars were in their way interesting but rusty artifacts.

The steep rocky walls of the quarry gave a western US impression to the scene.

Swamp
I would even expect to see a rattle snake. In fact, I did see a snake, but just a harmless northern water snake. The quarry itself looks like the workers are just on lunch break and can come back to resume their duties any time.

The tennis court of the Birchwood Swim Club has been abandoned since 1997. It is still on the site but heavily decaying. So, I can add another artifact to my ghost collection: a ghost Tennis Court!

Near the swamps the preserve also features a bird watching tower. At the time I got there a young family with two little girls was just enjoying the views on the swamps and pond. When I approached the tower one of the girls faced me enthusiastically and cried "Hello Mister Softee!" So far my self image of being a tough hiker.....

More pictures below!

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One of the beautiful car wreckages
One of the beautiful car wreckages
The quarry
The quarry
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
Swamp
Swamp
The entrance
The entrance
Apart from the fancy historic aspe…
Apart from the fancy historic asp…
No swimming? Yeah right!
No swimming? Yeah right!
Spring or autumn?
Spring or autumn?
Spring!
Spring!
One of the beautiful car wreckages…
One of the beautiful car wreckage…
More wreckages
More wreckages
One of the beautiful car wreckages
One of the beautiful car wreckages
One of the beautiful car wreckages
One of the beautiful car wreckages
More wreckages
More wreckages
More wreckages
More wreckages
Even a trucks wreckage
Even a truck's wreckage
Less interesting dump material
Less interesting dump material
Outcroppings near the quarry site
Outcroppings near the quarry site
A lake next to the quarry
A lake next to the quarry
The quarry in the quarrying era (p…
The quarry in the quarrying era (…
The quarry
The quarry
The quarry
The quarry
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
The ghost tennis court
Fresh spring green
Fresh spring green
One of the many boardwalks in the …
One of the many boardwalks in the…
View from boardwalk
View from boardwalk
The old rail bed of the tracks tha…
The old rail bed of the tracks th…
A more ancient artifact: a root ce…
A more ancient artifact: a root c…
Swamp plants
Swamp plants
I hiked almost all the trails in t…
I hiked almost all the trails in …
Cranberry Lake Preserve - NY
photo by: mdalamers