Sunday, January 20, 2008

Erie Canal Museum

I went to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse yesterday afternoon to attend a lecture, which I'll be writing about at Apple's Tree. The last time I visited the museum was on a field trip with BJ so it's been a long time.

The Erie Canal ran right through the city of Syracuse. For those of us born after the canal was filled in it is hard to imagine Erie Blvd. full of water. I did a terrible job taking this picture of a painting that hangs in the museum. For some great images of the canal through Syracuse, including a 1905 image of the Weighlock building in operation, go here.

The museum is located in the 1850 Weighlock building, where boats stopped to pay their toll. The Frank Buchanan Thomson Line Boat is the museum's showcase exhibit and to give you an idea of just how large it is you can see the top of the boat through the museum's front windows.

It was warm and comfortable inside the museum, a real treat in Syracuse in January! You can walk through the boat and enjoy the various displays onboard.

The sleeping accommodations on board looked less than inviting. These canvas bunks were stowed during the day and hung for passengers at night. As uncomfortable as it looks I'm sure it was much preferable to slow, overland travel.

This display illustrated how the weighlock worked. Boats floated in, the water was drained, the boat weighed and the chamber reflooded.

Replicas of a couple of types of boats that traveled the canal.

I had problems with my camera yesterday so here is another not great picture. This office was wonderfully restored.

The museum also has many displays of Syracuse history. I was surprised but pleased to see Elizabeth Cotton showcased.

It was a last minute decision to attend the lecture so I didn't have time to see all of the displays. There were several displays on the second floor that I missed. It was a bit chilly so I didn't explore the small outdoor exhibits, the boat below and a small urban garden. The museum has obtained the building next door and will be expanding there as well in the future. I do plan to attended more of the lecture series so I will take in some more next time.

A tip if you plan to go. Look for this statue across the street from the museum. There are a few free parking spots in the lot behind and under the highway. The entrance to the lot is off of James St. There is also metered parking available on the streets surrounding the museum.
There are not a lot of fun indoor places to take your kids to here in the winter time. Syracuse is just far enough away that I would plan to combine a trip to the museum with something else. Perhaps the indoor portion of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo or the interactive childrens theater at the Spaghetti Warehouse on Saturday afternoons with younger children. Adults and older kids might enjoy the Onondaga Historical Association Museum a couple of blocks away. Mike is the only one old enough to attend one of the lectures with me. The next one falls during winter break so I may see if he would like to go with me since I rarely get to do things with the grandchildren one on one.

For information on the museum's address, hours and the lecture series scroll down or click here.


  1. Hi Apple, It is strange to see those streets filled with water. I think the kids would like the MOST as well. I think I may even have coupons for that one.

  2. Sounds like an interesting place to visit Apple. Glad you enjoyed the day. It should be a fun day out with Mike. I hope he goes with you next time.