The story begins in 2013 when the I Love My Park Day volunteers daylighted a stone wall along the trail when they removed vines from the trees above a wall. They saved the trees and a crumbling stone wall became visible.
Then Commissioner of State Parks Rose Harvey looked on along with Taconic Regional Director Linda Cooper as the volunteers did their work.
The stone wall, now visible, was crying out to be restored.
Local Stone Mason Jorge Cabrera agreed to lead a team of volunteers during the 2016 I Love My Park Day to do the restoration. He can be seen here in the yellow vest placing a stone.
Success: they were able to complete the restoration in one day with the volunteers; here it is having been restored.
This is a photograph taken on March 23, 2022 of the first stone wall that Jorge restored with volunteers on the OCA - on I Love My Park Day on the first Saturday in May 2016. Note how well the new stones have weathered and blended in over time and now match the original stones.
During I Love My Park Day in 2017 we asked Jorge to lead another crew of volunteers to restore a very long stone wall which had been destroyed by a washout during a hurricane. It was right at the beginning of the entrance to the trail on Quaker Bridge Road. The volunteers gave up their lunch break to finish up by the end of the day.
Here is the stone wall photographed in March of 2022, still standing stong and picturesque.
Another I Love My Park Day and another stone wall became a target for restoration.
Again Jorge agreed to work with volunteers to restore it on I Love My Park Day and the effort attracted many volunteers, including this father and son duo along with the other volunteers.
Mission Accomplished; Jorge poses with the volunteers who stayed late to complete the work
Again Jorge agreed to work on this section with volunteers on I Love My Park Day; a giant tree had uprooted during a storm and destroyed a wide swath of this stone wall. It was a very challenging task, first requiring excavation then moving many stones that had been delivered, and then establishing a base.
Even with the help of many energetic volunteers and the State Parks tractor, this was the best they could do. A base was established and the restoration of the wall was left for another year.
Here is the wall waiting to be restored.
The Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct decided to put this work out to bid and to include other stone walls to the south that required restoration. Our volunteer stone mason won the bid and after receiving a permit from State Parks, plans were made to begin the work in March.
We put up a lawn sign announcing the project and requesting donations.
March 13, 2022
First day! Delivering the materials to prepare the site: Carlos, Carlos and Julio
March 14, 2022
Day 2 Excavation
And the work continued: This boulder has been split to prepare it to serve as a base for the wall; Jorge wraps a chain on it for transport:
Ivan maneuvers the excavator to move the huge boulder to serve as the base of the wall
Mission accomplished; if one looks closely one can see the boulder has been deposited at the base
March 15, 2022
Ivan maneuvers the excavator to deliver stones to the workmen who are carefully positioning stones on the wall; the larger ones on the bottom.
March 16, 2022
Much has been accomplished; stones placed on top
With stones from the original wall and the addition of similar material purchased for the project, a new wall is built a few feet at a time, with gravel for drainage placed behind the stones and the landscape fabric installed behind the gravel, which will prevent the infiltration of soil and even roots.
Jorge is pleased with the work accomplished today
Steve Oakes, Park Manager visited today to observe the progress to date.
This shows the sign installed on the trail announcing the work and requesting donations.
March 18, 2022
AM Excavation of a giant tree root to prepare one of the sections for filling in this gap
AM another site that was excavated followed by placement of the stones. Note the red string designed to establish a level top
Ivan gives thumbs up in the AM just before lunch break having done a lot of the excavation work with his trusty excavator
PM A small hole in the wall was successfully patched today
PM Completed section
PM Note the small stone chips inserted in the wall in another completed section; this is the last step in the stone wall placement
PM Board member Diane pleased with the progress made by the end of the day
PM Excavator parked at the end of the day
PM Engineer Aram inspecting the work with the Stone Mason Jorge Cabrera
Section 2A 65 feet long by 1.5 feet tall awaiting restoration on the next work day
Work accomplished during the week of 3.21.22
The 65-foot-long stone wall
The first step was to clear the area of leaves and branches on Monday 3.21.22
Then a line had to be strung to delineate the exact location of the wall bordering the trail.
Monday afternoon 3.21 Diane and Jorge consulting. Jorge called me to help him decide whether to create a straight wall or to put a slight curve in it to match the curve in the trail. We decided on a very subtle curve and the line was strung with a pipe in the middle to enable precise placement of the stones.
Placing the stones in the cleared area
Placing large stones at the base.
Connecting to the southern end of the wall, making a transition to a taller section.
Ivan transporting stones to the northern end (photo by Lynn Salmon) on Tuesday morning 3.22.22
Placing large stones at the base (photo by Lynn Salmon) on Tuesday morning 3.22.22
Mission accomplished by noontime Tuesday 3.22.22
Last Chapter in this saga showing just how many steps are involved
Remember this photo from March 18?
Here is that wall in the final stages of being completed in which the top layer is being carefully finished off and small stone chips are being broken up and inserted to fill in the openings.
Note that there is a second layer of stones being placed behind the first layer so as to establish a very substantial stone wall that should last - who know how many years!
Here Ivan is placing gravel behind the stone wall; then landscape fabric will be installed in back of the gravel.
March 23, 2022 the trail has been smoothed out now that the work has been completed only 10 days after the arrival of the workmen.
Showing close up some of the details of what goes into constructing even a relatively low wall. There were two stone walls in one section of the trail with a 65-foot gap between them. Here are eight photos of work done by Carlos carefully and methodically working to install a wall to connect the two sections. Tom Tarnowsky, Friends’ board member, documented this on the Tuesday, March 22, the penultimate day of the stone wall restoration project. He commented that “The masons manually picked up many 100 lb. stones as if they were pebbles!”
An excavator helped move the larger walls and cleared the earth.
Note how this section gradually slopes up to meet the taller wall.
State Parks Manager Steve Oakes and Friends Board Member and Engineer Aram Aslanian-Persico came to review the work on April 2 and it passed inspection with flying colors. Trail walkers and neighbors are encouraged to come walk the trail and see the beautifully restored stone walls in the northernmost section of the trail in Ossining.