Cobblestone Museum has new canal exhibit, showing life from a century ago

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Deborah Brundage, director of the Cobblestone Society Museum, holds one of 21 historic photos from the Erie Canal that are part of a new exhibit at the museum, 14393 Ridge Rd., just east of Route 98.

GAINES – The photos show laborers in the bottom of the canal, working to deepen and widen the waterway back in 1913.

The state moved to upgrade the canal, which was in decline 100 years ago. It was a massive effort to excavate and widen. The Orleans County History Department has many photographs of the work from a century ago.

They have been enlarged and professionally displayed in a new exhibit at the Cobblestone Society Museum. The 21 pictures will be displayed after this summer at Hoag Library in Albion.

“The canal is part of our local history,” said Deborah Brundage, director of the Cobblestone Society Museum. “The canal opened up the region for development and let farmers sell their crops more easily.”

The historic images show construction on the canal, boats using the waterway, and residents enjoying life in a canal town.

One of the historic images shows a family crossing a pedestrian bridge over the canal in Medina.

One picture shows a group trying to cross a pedestrian bridge in Medina. Another picture shows a woman standing in front of the Canal Culvert in Ridgeway.

Albion eighth-graders researched the images and wrote the labels that will describe the images. The museum will have a reception for the exhibit at 3 p.m. on July 20.

The Erie Canalway Corridor provided a $7,000 grant to create the display, and offer programming about the canal.

The Cobblestone Church will host four free lectures about local canal history. Those events are at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The lectures include the following:

Jeff Donahue, director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, on Saturday will discuss “Joseph Ellicott and the Holland Land Office Purchase.”

Gretchen Murray Sepik on July 20 will portray Erie Canal Sal and sign copies of her book about the theatrical character, a cook on a canal boat.

Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin will give an overview of the canal and its impact locally on Aug. 3.

Gaines Town Historian Dee Robinson will discuss life on a canal boat, “from a female perspective” during an Aug. 10 lecture.

Hoag Library Director Susan Rudnicky, who is also president of the Cobblestone Museum board, wrote the grant for the canal exhibit and programs.