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Syracuse New York and the Erie Canal Museum

Syracuse stands at the northeast corner of the Finger Lakes region and is a city comprised of many neighborhoods which were originally villages that joined the city over the years. Land to the north of town is generally flat while land to the south is hilly.

A major Crossroads for two Centuries with the Erie Canal its Branches and a Rail Network

Syracuse University is a major research center and in 2010 the city was rated fourth among the top 10 places to raise a family in the United States.

Syracuse Onondaga ParkDowntown Syracuse is a storehouse of historical facts and a repository of sometimes forgotten custom and legend. Its buildings transcend time and provide us with a window on both the past and the present.

The Everson Museum of Art seeks to inspire, educate and enrich, integrating art into people’s lives through direct encounters with its collections and exhibitions. It is internationally recognized for its extensive and significant collection of ceramics, pioneering art video collection and distinctive structural design by the noted architect I.M. Pei.

Onondaga Historical Association Museum has one of the nation’s largest regional collections of historical treasures that celebrate the region’s people, events, architecture, sports legends, industries, transportation and recreation.

ECM3Hanover Square is just a block away from the Erie Canal Museum, it was Syracuse’s first commercial district. At the center of the Square is a plaza and fountain where lunchtime entertainment is featured in the summer months. The plaza is surrounded by offices and retail businesses.

The Story of Mobility in America

Maritime Museums in Historic Towns

The Erie Canal Museum is dedicated to preserving the 1850 National Register Weighlock Building, the last remaining structure of its kind, and to telling the incredible adventure story of the Erie Canal.

ECM 1The collections of the Erie Canal Museum consist of nearly 60,000 artifacts, covering a wide variety of items reflecting the culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries in upstate New York.

European and English canal systems proved the feasibility of inland waterway transportation and provided fine examples to be improved upon. As the need for improved inland transportation became obvious for westward expansion, America plunged into an era of canal building activity. From the days of the birchbark canoe, the early trade routes of the Northeast utilized New York’s waterways.

ECM2The Lake Champlain-Hudson River and the Lake Ontario-Oswego River-Mohawk River Route were utilized by native Americans, fur traders, missionaries and colonizers. Fortification along these routes still stands as testimony to their importance in exploration, trade and settlement.

Canoes were supplemented by bateaux, longer heavier boats rowed or pulled by several men, which by 1791 would haul a cargo of 1 1/2 – 2 tons. Bateaux became larger, and so did the problems with their use. By 1796 bateaux had grown into Durham boats with capacities of 15-20 tons.

Inside ECMThe Erie Canal was established in 1817; the canal was dug from Albany to Buffalo, 4′ deep and 40′ wide, with stone locks 15′ x 90′. The system proved to be so successful that almost every community in the state lobbied for a link to the system; a network of canals was created of the same basic dimensions.

The Barge Canal system, utilizing canalized rivers and lakes and enlarged sections of the Old Erie, opened in 1918. Today it continues to use several of the old routes, Champlain, Erie, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego, and has been renamed the New York State Canal System.

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Buffalo Western New York Maritime Heritage and Museums

The Buffalo area was inhabited before the 17th century by Native American Iroquois tribes and later by French settlers. The city grew significantly in the 19th and 20th centuries; immigration, the Erie Canal, rail transport and proximity to Lake Erie fueled trade with the midwestern part of the nation.

Buffalo is located at the head of the Niagara River 16 miles south of Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsBuffalo Metro Rail is a 6.4-miles (10.3 km) long, single line light rail system that extends from Erie Canal Harbor in downtown Buffalo to the University Heights district. Two train stations, operated by Amtrak, serve the city. Historically, it was a major stop on through routes between Chicago and New York City.

NFTA Light Rail at Fountain PlazaThe Story of Mobility in America

Maritime Museums in Historic Towns

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The Buffalo Harbor Museum is in a building that was once the home of long-time Buffalo ship chandler Howard H Baker and Company. Ship chandlery business was central to the existence of dynamic ports and their waterfronts that supplied sails and ropes and other supplies for sailing ships. Displays and exhibits provide an overview of the evolution of the Buffalo Waterfront along with artifacts from the vessels that sailed the Great Lakes.

Buffalo SkylineThe Buffalo Maritime Center promotes traditional hand skills and a craftsman-like attitude while advancing knowledge of the Western New York maritime heritage. The high standards of craftsmanship intrinsic to the work of boat building form the basis of educational programs that encourage self-discipline, self-sufficiency, and the pride of performing meaningful work.

From the earliest canoes and flat-bottomed bateaux to canal packets and majestic yachts, regional watercraft of the Niagara Frontier have played a central role in prehistory and the history of the region. The vital water links of the Great Lakes, area rivers, and countless smaller lakes spawned unique boats, providing work for the best naval architects on the east coast.

Erie TravelerDurham boats flat-bottomed, double-ended craft were used throughout the inland waterways of North America to ferry supplies and people. They were used to transport George Washington and his troops across the Delaware River during the American Revolution and were especially common along the Niagara River to transport salt and lumber from Little Niagara (Fort Schlosser) to Black Rock. Durham boats eventually were replaced in the Niagara region by larger, more efficient canal boats after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.

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