Chittenango Canal Landing Boat Museum is a beautiful and historical site that so many people don’t know about.
The pounding of iron and steel is hard to miss. Blacksmith Tom Williams is hard at work forging metal that’ll be sold or used in this shop. He’s constantly moving and keeping busy between demonstrations for visitors.
“I interpret the site, basically. That’s another job I have: telling people what’s what and what’s where,” said blacksmith Tom Williams.
Tom was the only docent working last Saturday, because he's a real blacksmith working in a real blacksmith shop. Sometimes other characters dressed in clothes of the times teach throughout the site.
On Saturday, that’s not the case, but Executive Director Joe Treglia explained how easy it is to do the audio walking tour as he stopped at a canal boat replica.
“That’s where seven people can live. Anything you did with the family was done in these small, small, small quarters because this would be full with as much as they could pack into it with grain or wood or furniture," Dr. Treglia said.
There’s tons of replicas on the site like in the mule stable, where Treglia explains how the famous dry docks operate.
“This is our site. Blacksmith store, dry docks, and then there’s a store. We’re in the rear building right there. It’s a nice model, it’s interactive, and you can play in water," Dr. Treglia said.
That’s just a glimpse of this historic museum. After you check out those sites, you can hit the water for a socially distant activity like kayaking. A happy visitor stepped out of the water after kayaking along the canal, gushing about how much he enjoyed "looking up at the sky" during his adventure.
Meanwhile, Treglia showed some first-timers the ropes before they leave the dock. The landing is just one of four sites in the state that are renting out kayaks for free as part of the NY Canal Staycation Program.
“We’re loving this program. The weather this year has been great. The support from the state has been an outstanding idea, and it’s great for the area," Dr. Treglia said.
After hitting the water, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can rent bikes cost-free, too. The landing is a “rest stop” on the canal, with rock seats and tools like air pumps and screwdrivers for quick fixes.
“The bikes that we have are usually an extra. Somebody has a couple bikes for themselves, they bring a friend, they need an extra bike for that. We’ve seen the bike traffic just increase 10 times; even foot traffic has doubled. People are coming through the site and now that we’re able to open the museum part, people are going through that," Dr. Treglia said.
The walking tour of the museum is also free. If you want to rent a kayak or bike, Treglia says just to call ahead and reserve for their waves at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.