Sunday, September 14, 2008

Boonville has new canal museum

By Richard Palmer
BOONVILLE - This village is rapidly becoming a tourist destination, thanks to a local effort called the Boonville Black River Canal Museum, which had more than 1,000 visitors during the summer of 2008.

Latest addition is a replica of an authentic Black River Canal boat called the "Walter C. Pratt," in honor of one of the founders of the Pratt Northam Foundation, a philanthropic organization. Grant money from the foundation funded the building of the replica. Another Foundation grant of $20,000 will help create a new archives building on the museum’s grounds. 

The boat replica allows visitors to travel back in time and see the life of a canal boat family. The boat was built from original construction plans. It is complete with a cabin area, cargo area and a resting space for mules. 

The replica also will have a display devoted to the history of the canal boats that includes photographs and scale models. 
The museum also has plans to expand with the completion of a children’s activity area in a refurbished original canal warehouse that already was on site. The area will include a miniature working canal in which children can learn how canal boats moved through the canal locks, a mule in its stall and a display that teaches how a pulley system was used to lift nail kegs. 

“Kids should get a kick out of it and learn something. I can’t wait to get my hands wet,” said trustee Walt Schriber. 
The interactive nature of the museum and its displays fulfills the educational mission of the museum “to collect, preserve and interpret objects related to the Black River Canal; and, to research, document and disseminate information about the Black River Canal,” according to a news release. 

“We want to preserve the Black River Canal and Boonville history for future generations,” said trustee Dick Ulrich said.
Goal of the museum is to is to educate, maintain, and preserve the artifacts and culture associated with the Black River Canal in a permanent exhibit on its banks.

The Hemlock Mercantile Building, constructed entirely by volunteers, was opened on June 2, 2007. It includes many displays of historic photographs and original canal artifacts. This building also serves as the visitor center and gift shop. The warehouse located behind the Mercantile Building, has been restored. It is an original mule barn and storage warehouse used during canal days. This building houses a children's activity center and several large displays.
There are plans for another building between the Mercantile Building and the warehouse. It will house a mini theater, the archives and offices.

1 comment:

Alexis O'Neill said...

My husband & I made a special visit to the Black River Canal Museum in August from California (via Syracuse, NY) just to see the Walter C. Pratt and it was totally worth it! Being abe to stand inside the hold of the boat and experience the size of the living area and mule quarters was terrific. We also enjoyed the many photos on display in the boat and in the museum. I highly recommend a trip to Boonville to see this great addition to Erie Canal/Black River Canal history.