Going straight to the source

Where does the Hutchinson River begin? What is its source? These are questions members of the Hutchinson River Restoration Project have been curious about since our founding.

A few years back, HRRP members Toby Liederman and Eleanor Rae went on a reconnaissance mission to find out. They determined that the Hutch begins from underground springs located literally in the backyards of residents who live close to where Drake Rd. in Scarsdale becomes Baraud Rd. in New Rochelle. The Hutch is the dividing line between the two.

Drake Rd. entering Scarsdale

Baraud Rd. entering New Rochelle

Eleanor and Toby discovered a path called Ray Calgi Way, off Tewkesbury Rd. just north of Baraud, that leads to a small public park and pool that is accessible to the public.

Ray Calgi Way on Tewkesbury Rd. just North of Drake Rd.

The path leading to the park.

This past June, Eleanor and I decided to take a trip up there to take some pictures and further explore the area.

You can see the Hutch from Drake Rd. /Baraud Rd.  It’s not obvious. At this point it’s not more than a rill that runs through a culvert under the road.  On the north side of the road it’s obscured by underbrush.

On the south side of the road you begin to see the banks and a higher volume of water flowing. The Hutch is used for drain off from the yards of some of the residents. You’ll notice discharge pipes in a number of places.

Driving up Tewkesbury, we parked near Ray Calgi Way and walked down the path to the park. The swimming pool was covered over, presumably because of the Covid 19 pandemic. The park sits atop the springs from which the Hutch originates. Since the springs are beneath the surface, the construction of the park probably had little impact. What it did do was to cause the spring water bubbling up from below to create two courses starting at the top of the park and flowing down both sides. The two courses merge just South of the park. There was little to no water in the courses when we were there but that’s not unusual for spring fed streams. The courses will fill with water as the water table rises or after a rain storm.

In the park. The two courses diverge just beyond the fence in the background. One of the courses can be seen behind me.

Pics below are of the woods at the north end of the park from which the spring waters flow down around either side of the park.
Below: pics of the course on the west.
Below: pics of the course on the east.

If you look at a Google Map of this area, it appears that the Hutch begins in a backyard at a cul de sac just past the corner of Southwoods Ln. and East Woods Ln. in Scarsdale. We decided to check it out. The location is about a third of a mile South of Drake Rd. down Forest Ln. which becomes East Woods Ln. There is no public access to the Hutch at this point.

From the street we could see where the Hutch was flowing down. As luck would have it, we met the owner of the  house whose backyard borders this stretch of the  Hutch. She gave us permission to look around and to take pictures.

The first thing to catch our eyes eye was a small wooden, rustic footbridge that spans the stream. It looked a little rickety so we didn’t attempt to cross it.

Looking north from the property, the Hutch is still a trickle of a stream interspersed with mud puddles but just a few yards south of the footbridge it widens and becomes a fully flowing stream.

In the backyard of a residence at the corner of Southwoods Ln. & East Woods Ln.     The Hutch becomes an active stream at this point.

A couple of weeks after our trip, I discovered an archive of old atlases that Westchester County has on line.  They range from 1867 – 1931.  Out of curiosity, I checked to see if any of them had maps showing the course of the Hutch that might verify the source as we assume it to be. Some of the maps did, in fact, show the source of the Hutch in exactly this location. The maps all showed a single stream originating from the site, as the area hadn’t yet been developed to the extent it is today. Most of the houses are on the Scarsdale side. The area on the New Rochelle side where the park now stands shows no buildings at all. Tewkesbury Rd. hadn’t been extended yet. It was probably still all woods.

Now that we’ve answered the questions posed at the beginning of this post to our satisfaction, HRRP will continue to search for  more access points so that we can add to our knowledge of the river and provide an opportunity for the public to experience and appreciate the river just outside our back doors.

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