Remaining canal lock (DFellows photo)
During a bike/hike this past weekend, the Tramp & Trail members stopped off at the Black River Canal Museum in Boonville. I have often driven by the museum with intentions to come back some other day to visit the museum. All I can do is advise those of you with similar thoughts to take the time and stop. It is well worth it!
We were greeted by two wonderful museum caretakers who did not flinch at all at having a bunch of sweaty, disheveled people invade the museum. They gave us a tour of the multiple buildings, condensed to fit into our time frame. It was enough of a taste of the treasures to be explored that I know I will be going back – soon – when I will have time to really appreciate all that is inside this museum.
The museum is easy to find – located at the intersection of Route 12 and Main Street and is fittingly right on the banks of the original canal. I learned that the Black River Canal was originally 77 miles in length and was built between 1837 and 1855 – using horses, mules and the muscles of men. The canal ran uphill, between the Erie Canal and the Black River and opened up the North Country to Eastern and Midwestern markets. The Black River Canal created a record that is still unbroken today – the canal had 109 locks in its 77 mile length!
I am not sure which of the buildings were my favorite – I definitely liked the “children’s” building – with its opportunities to steer a canal boat through the locks in a watery replica surrounding three sides of the room and the steering rudder that one could operate to feel how difficult it was to steer the boat through twists and turns of the canal.
But I think my favorite will have to be the full-scale replica of a canal boat – you must go see this and go inside to see what the actual living quarters were for the canal boat family. When you see the life-sized mule in its stable inside the boat – and then realize there were two pairs of them – well, I can just image how aromatic the air was on hot summer days!
Live with a mule..or two?
So my suggestion to all the readers would be to not put off visiting this museum. Take the kids, take the grand kids, take your inner children with you – but do go see the museum!