Visit to New Croton Dam—February, 1934

In the winter of 1934, members of the Bagley family of Peekskill made a visit to the New Croton Dam, recorded in this series of snapshots. Each has a penned inscription on the back and is stamped with the month and year. The photographs were recently acquired at an estate sale in Cortlandt along with other images of Peekskill, Bear Mountain Bridge, Camp Smith and more. We plan to post those images in the coming weeks.

If you’re a Crotonite, don’t miss the last image of the ice-covered rocks along Route 129. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? The Bagley family stopped their car to take the photo 81 years ago.

You can click on the images to enlarge them.

New Croton Dam Construction, circa 1902

Mr. John Fish at the New Croton Dam, circa 1902

Mr. John Fish at the New Croton Dam, circa 1902

We recently acquired a great set of photographs showing the New Croton Dam under construction. The images are particularly exciting because they include some rare views of the construction site and one of the soon-to-be submerged Old Croton Dam. Based on the state of completion of the dam we think these were taken circa 1902.1

The images appear to document a visit to the site by “Mr. John Fish,” who can be seen in several photographs. Who was Mr. Fish and why was his visit photographed? Why were the photos laboriously labelled on the negatives when a simple inscription on the back of the print or on a scrapbook page would have sufficed?2

We don’t know. We speculate that Fish may have been involved in the construction as a subcontractor but so far a search of online and offline sources has turned up nothing. If you have any information please send us an email.

The scanned images below have been adjusted in Photoshop to increase contrast and bring out details. The actual prints are lighter, either due to age, overexposure when the photos were taken or printed—or both. We have cropped and enlarged sections of the images to bring out glorious details.

Click the first photo to enlarge it and then click the arrow icons to cycle through the images.


  1. Many thanks to Tom Tarnowsky, Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, and Carl Oechsner, Croton Friends of History, for their help in analyzing these photographs. ↩︎
  2. The text labels in the photos were added to the negatives in the darkroom so they would appear on every print. To be readable when the images were printed the labels needed to be written or applied in reverse—a tricky thing to do in a darkroom—which is why some of the letters are incorrectly reversed on the prints. Because the text labels in several of the photos are cut off it appears these prints were trimmed down, though it could also have been a mistake when the images were printed. None of the prints have inscriptions on the back and the seller was unable to provide any additional information. ↩︎

If You Follow the Road to Harmon, You Surely Can’t go Wrong

Nikko Inn Card front

Here’s a real treat—a double-fold promotional postcard for the Nikko Tea House, probably printed circa 1907 to 1910.1 An artist with the initials “W.K.” created the beautiful images and hand-lettered the map and poem on the centerfold.

The map has a wonderful depiction of the Nikko and helpfully provides the location of “police traps” on the roads in Westchester. The lines indicating the Hudson River along the left cleverly become strings for Japanese lanterns at the bottom.

Nikko Inn Card center

We can thank C.K. Nazu, who was manager of the Nikko at the time, for this wonderful ode to Harmon:

Nikko Card Detail
Of Harmon on the Hudson
You surely must have heard,
But if you’ll give attention
I should like a word,

About the Nikko Tea House,
One the wooded Croton’s brink,
The situation picturesque;
The food is fine we think;

So get a horse or motor car,
And bring your friends along;
If you follow the road to Harmon,
You surely can’t go wrong.

Here are a few previous posts about the Nikko Tea House:

  • C.K. Nazu is listed as the manager in this 1908 ad (though the last name is spelled “Nezu”).
  • Another clever bit of promotion from 1917, when the Nikko was called the “Nikko Inn.”
  • One of our favorite Nikko stories by a New York journalist who stopped for some “skiyaki” in 1931.

To see all the posts about the Nikko click the “Nikko Inn” tag in the right hand column.

If you have any vintage photographs or ephemera of the Nikko or the early days of Harmon please send an email.


  1. Local postcard expert Susan Hack-Lane, who helped date the card, pointed out the names written on the front, Nellie L. Beach and Billy Beach. Beach was a Peekskill family name (Beach Shopping Center) which may explain why this card was never mailed. ↩︎

Drive to the New Croton Dam, 1913

New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

In 1913 the Overman Tire Company in New York City ran a test to demonstrate “the ability of Overman cushion tires to withstand the abuse to which tires ordinarily are subjected by the average driver.” A National touring car was outfitted with a set of Overman cushion tires and driven over different routes and road surfaces within a 50 mile radius of New York City.1

New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

Luckily for us the route went by the New Croton Dam, there was a photographer along to record the trip, and the entire collection of 342 photos is available online courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

Bridge below the New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

Bridge below the New Croton Dam, May 13, 1913. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

A number of other photos were taken the same day but unfortunately most show the car on unidentifiable country roads. One exception is an image taken at the Croton Lake Station of the “Old Put”—the New York Central Railroad, Putnam Division—shown below.2


  1. The company was located at 250 West 54th Street in New York City. The quote is from the June 26, 1913 issue of Motor World. See here.
  2. Located along today’s Saw Mill River Road, Route 118.
Croton Lake Station of the New York Central Railroad, Putnam Division. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

Croton Lake Station of the New York Central Railroad, Putnam Division. Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection.

Croton-on-Hudson Phone Directory, 1938

Pages from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory. Courtesy of Carl Oechsner.

Pages from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory. Courtesy of Carl Oechsner.

Thanks to our friend Carl Oechsner we were able to get our hands on a copy of the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.1 The plan was to scan some of the ads like the ones for the Mikado Inn, Konco’s Garage, and Robbins Pharmacy shown below. But when we looked closer and saw listings for well-known Crotonites like Max Eastman, Margaret Mayo, and Miss Carrie E. Tompkins we decided to scan every page, run the images through an optical character recognition program, and post a searchable PDF on Google Docs. To see the PDF click here.

Do you have any early Croton phone directories or other Croton ephemera? We would love to scan other early directories, photographs of the village or similar material. If you have something you would like to share send us an email by clicking here.

Ad for the Mikado Inn from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for the Mikado Inn from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


Ad for Konco's Garage from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for Konco’s Garage from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


Ad for Robbins Pharmacy from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for Robbins Pharmacy from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


  1. Carl’s copy is missing the covers, which is why the first page is numbered 3.

Celebrating High Bridge

High Bridge puzzle, published by E. G. Selchow & Co., circa 1867-1880

High Bridge puzzle, published by E. G. Selchow & Co., circa 1867-1880

High Bridge is one of the greatest feats of early American engineering and New York City’s oldest standing bridge. A key part of what we now call the Old Croton Aqueduct, the bridge once carried water across the Harlem River into Manhattan. Although it was built to support large water pipes, it was open to pedestrians and soon after completion in 1848 the bridge became a hugely popular public promenade—thronged by visitors enjoying the views—and a favorite subject for artists and photographers.

After more than 20 years of planning and fundraising by a diverse coalition of organizations High Bridge has been reopened.

To celebrate we’ve assembled a group of images including one of John B. Jervis’s original engineering drawings, 19th century prints and stereoviews, works of art inspired by the bridge, a children’s puzzle and more.

You can learn more about this historic landmark—and plan a visit—here.

Click the images below to enlarge them.

Croton’s Old Post Road Inn, 1890

Illustrated title of C. Hills Warren's article.

Illustrated title of C. Hills Warren’s article.

In January, 1890, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly published an article by C. Hills Warren that looked back nostalgically at the history of the Albany Post Road.1 By that time the importance of the road—once the only major route for stage coaches running from New York City to Albany—had long since been eclipsed by steam boats and trains.

“It was not so very long ago when the stages ran between New York and Albany,” Warren wrote. “The introduction of steam-boat navigation on the Hudson restricted stage travel to the Winter months; then the Hudson River Railroad was built to Peekskill in 1849, shortening the stage route to that point; and when two years later, the road was opened to Albany, the stages were withdrawn.”

So Warren sets out from New York City to revisit the historic places along on the fabled road, noting how the “broad fields and well-kept orchards that lined the highway” in northern Manhattan “have been cut up by streets and built upon” and the “cozy farm-houses and suburban villas . . . like the Jumel and Hamilton mansions stand hemmed in by solid blocks of brick and stone.”

Along the way he visits Tarrytown and recounts the history of the Dutch Church and Old Mill in Sleepy Hollow and the capture of Major André. When he gets to Croton he makes “a call” at Van Cortlandt Manor—“one of the pleasantest incidents of my journey”—and enjoys the hospitality of James Stevenson Van Cortlandt, his widowed mother and sister.

Van Cortlandt Manor in 1890.

Van Cortlandt Manor in 1890.

“All the country hereabout is historic ground,” he notes, “the scenery of the Hudson Valley is beautiful, and this happy blending of the historical with the picturesque made a tramp over the old road . . . throughly enjoyable.”

The story he tells about the history of the Van Cortlandt family and the manor house is unremarkable, but as he continues on his journey he gives us a rare treat—a vivid description of the “quiet hamlet” of Croton in 1890 and the Old Post Inn, once located on today’s Grand Street, across from the Holy Name of Mary Church.

The Old Post Road Inn in 1890.

The Old Post Road Inn in 1890.

What’s particularly interesting about his account is the depiction of the upper village as a byway, with grass growing in the road because a new street had “been cut through the bluff down by the river.” Seventy-seven years later all of Croton became a byway when the construction of Route 9 destroyed the village’s waterfront along the west side of Riverside Avenue.

"There is little of the inn left about the old house now. The grass is growing in the road before the door."

“There is little of the inn left about the old house now. The grass is growing in the road before the door.”

Let’s listen to C. Hills Warren as he takes us back to Croton in 1890.

“Croton is a quiet hamlet, whose inhabitants have been for several generations industriously digging up the fields and pressing the soil into bricks, until it looks as though the place had stood a siege, and the enemy had exploded mines all round its borders. Here I found the first post-house. It is a two-story wooden structure, somewhat the worse for wear, with a double piazza running the whole length of the front, in the style popular with builders of country taverns in the last century. A wide hall from the front door to the kitchen in the rear, and doors open from it to the sitting-room on right and the bar-room opposite.

A postcard of the Old Post Road Inn before it burned down. The brick building on the left is still there—the Cornelia Cotton Gallery is on the bottom floor.

A postcard of the Old Post Road Inn before it burned down. The brick building on the left is still there—the Cornelia Cotton Gallery is on the bottom floor.

It is the home of Miss Susan McCord, a pleasant-voiced spinster, who was born there; and remembers well when the stages used to roll to the door and hungry guests came trooping the dining-room to partake of her father’s fare. He was a popular innkeeper, and when, one stormy Winter’s day, a party of legislators, their way to Albany, were unable to go farther through the drifts, he made them so comfortable over night that they resumed their journey with reluctance. There is little of the inn left about the old house now. The grass is growing in the road before the door; for a new street has been cut through the bluff down by the river, and even the line of telegraph-poles that follows the post-road through most of its windings deserts it here for the more direct route of its rival.”

Location of the Old Post Inn today.

Location of the Old Post Inn today.


  1. See Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, January, 1890, here.