Skip to main content

Visit the Canal Museum

We operate with volunteers while relying on grants and donations, which we greatly appreciate. Admission is free.

Buildings to Tour

The Mercantile

The first building visitors enter is The Mercantile where a wonderful diorama captures life in a small village with a canal.  Walls are lined with photographs telling the story of the canal as it traveled from Rome north to Carthage.  Our gift shop is a great place to browse local books, shop for clothing with our logo and wooden articles made by volunteers in our workshop.

The Conference Building

The Conference Building is what we call the next structure.  Here you will continue to enjoy historic photographs and artifacts along with seating for viewing the excellent descriptive 20 minute video, “Little Ditch – The Black River Canal”.

The Mule Barn

Our 1850 Mule Barn has been ingeniously transformed into a hands on area where kids of all ages can play to learn.  A mini canal allows folks to pilot a small scale canal boat through a series of working locks.  Within the building are other stations that teach and explore the use of pulleys, navigation with an actual size canal boat rudder and even loading and unloading canal boats with a crane.

The Canal Boat

Have you ever been aboard a canal boat?  You are welcome to step inside our full size replica where you will get an idea of the cargo hauled and see where the draft animals lived on one end while the human occupants resided on the other. 

The Blacksmith Shop

The last building open to the public is the George Bardo Blacksmith Shop which was a generous donation from the Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake.  It is a cultural treasure complete with tools, horseshoes, wooden spoked wagon wheels, a beautifully restored carriage and sleigh and even “Bardo”, the horse patiently waiting for new shoes.


  • Carol M.
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “Really neat little museum re: the canal history of Northern NY. Very interesting & some great displays of canal life.”

  • Rej
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “We know too little about the canals that were so very important in opening up the north country. This museum has great information and displays. And it is fun.”

  • Fritz
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “A wonderful little museum. What a nice surprise. I’ve lived in the area my entire life and finally took the time to visit with my grandkids. It was a rainy day and we were looking for some activities for the kids, it was great. If you’re a local history buff this is well worth the visit. The highlight was a ‘hands on’ exhibit for the children. The staff went out of their way to keep the youngsters engaged and had informative answers for questions from the adults. This is a great asset for the Boonville community.”

  • GerriS63_10
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “Charming piece of history. Just returned from a visit to this museum. It is a great place to learn about the building of the canals and locks that fed into the Erie Canal and the businesses it created in the Village of Boonville. The businesses are all gone now and the canal no longer operates. But remnants of the Canal and Locks remain. Museum has a great room for kids to experience how the Canal worked and how the boats operated. Lots of period pictures.”

  • Gail Roes
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “Interesting and fun hands on for kids and adults operating the lock system with barge replicas. Nice blacksmith shop at the end. Free admission but worth a donation.”

  • Mom0904
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “Was very impressed that on the last day of their season, the folks at this museum were very friendly and helpful. Was able to find two books for my husband that he has really been enjoying.”

  • Carole B.
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “I have been to this museum twice, and absolutely LOVE it! As a bit of a canal freak, I love the history and exhibits in this museum, and the volunteers are fantastic. I definitely will be back again!!!!!!”

  • Martha C.
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “This Museum is quite a gem located in Boonville showing early moving freight on barges on the canal. Very informative and interesting.”

  • Mamaczajka
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “This is a great place to learn about the community’s leading export of long ago. Great depiction of the Black River Canal System as well as artifacts from the logging industry. Free to the public, you can’t go wrong here!”

  • Deborah C.
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “This place may look small but it packs a lot into the space! There is something for everyone- young to old. The kids can have fun trying their hands at the interactive canal where they can float their barge through the locks, or check out the authentic canal boat replica. Older people will enjoy the history & numerous pictures/photos depicting life in this time period. The staff is mostly volunteer (hence the donation request so please be generous) & you can see how much they love their local history. Highly recommend it for an hour or two’s worth of fun education. Also, if you go across the street there is a short walking trail with a Whipple bridge.”

  • Shawn H.
    Testimonial from Trip Advisor

    “If you like canal history, enjoy local history, or just want something interesting to do for a few hours, this is the place to go to! Staff are helpful, friendly, and give interesting and informative tours. Many cool period pictures with informative data and a few hands-on children’s activities. Can’t beat the price as donations are requested. Great little museum. “