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Boonville Black River Canal Museum is Boonville’s “Business of the Month”


November 15, 2023

Article appearing in the August 9, 2023 Boonvile Herald:

The Boonville Black River Canal Museum has been named the August Business of the Month by the Boonville Area Chamber of commerce.

Established in 2003, the museum has run for 18 years with continual improvements. It is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the Black River Canal and surrounding communities. The canal, once a bustling waterway that connected the Erie Canal to the North Country, facilitated the transportation of goods and people in the 19th century, leaving a lasting impact on the development of Upstate New York.

Walking through the museum doors, patrons will find a brief history of the canal and its sections. With over 100 pictures and artifacts, visitors will surely be immersed in the canal’s rich history spanning from the 1830’s to the 1920’s. Upon entering, patrons will be given the option of having a guided tour by this year’s intern, Braeden Pridgeon, or to look around themselves. There is a gift shop with a wide variety of canal memorabilia, board games, stuffed mules, coffee mugs and more.

The Boonville Black River Canal Museum goes beyond the canal itself, offering insights into the broader history of Boonville and the surrounding communities. Local industries, such as lumbering and tanneries, which heavily relied on the canal for transportation, are also explored in detail, showcasing the interconnectedness of the canal and the region’s economic growth.

The museum is complete with five separate buildings, each giving a portion of the history of the canal. The first building looks like a lock store and gives a brief overview of the canal’s history. The second building is dedicated to the ‘canal towns’ that were prominent during the canal’s years of operation, including Rome, Westernville, Northwestern, Boonville, Port Leyden, Lyons Falls and Carthage. The third building is the ‘interactive room’, which is a renovated mule barn dating back to 1850. It is equipped with a fully functioning mini-canal, cranes, pulley and more. Next is a life-sized replica of a canal boat. The building measures 72 feet by 14 feet. It contains a storage area, living quarters, and even an area where the mules live. Finally, the fifth building is a blacksmith shop, which was operational until 1952.

The museum owes its continued success to the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers, historian and community members who work to preserve the artifacts and stories that define the essence of Boonville’s past. Residents are encouraged to visit the Boonville Black River Canal Museum and maybe even volunteer, as the museum is completely run on volunteering efforts. The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm everyday until Sept. 1; from there, the museum will switch to being open on weekends through Columbus Day. The museum closes for the winter. Admission is free.

For questions, please contact the museum at 315-942-6763 or visit www.blackrivercanalmuseum.com/. The Black River Canal Museum is located at 520 Main St, Boonville.

The Boonville Area Chamber of commerce presented the Business of the Month ‘traveling trophy’ to the board members of the Boonville Black River Canal Museum on Tuesday Aug 1. Among those on hand for the presentation were, from the Chamber, Dave Leffingwell, president, Cheri Coe, treasurer, LeeAnne Greene, Kathy Iles and Paul Fortin. Museum board members included: Janet Thompson, president, Daphne Larrabee, Dick Ulrich, Valerie Kessler, Eugene Graves, Richard Anna, Carole Keller, Lyn Bailey, Joan VerSchneider, Walt Schirber and Steve Scheiher. Museum Intern Braeden Pridgeon.