Neversink Valley Area Museum
Valley Area Museum was founded in 1967 by a group
of concerned citizens, along with the overwhelming support
of many local organizations. For some time they had
been concerned with rapid development that was encroaching
upon and threatening to destroy important historic sites
within the valley. Working with representatives from
the New York State Council on the Arts, local residents
began the formation of a museum dedicated to preserving
and interpreting the history of the Neversink Valley.
They decided that the emphasis would be on the Delaware
and Hudson Canal, which transported coal from Honesdale,
Pennsylvania to Kingston, New York (over 108 miles)
from 1828-1898, and was a major influence in the development
of our area during the 19th century.
In 1979, the newly formed Orange County
Citizens Foundation raised over $100,000 to purchase
land to be preserved as a historic site. This land included
over one mile of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, with
important canal features such as the remains of the
Neversink River Aqueduct built by John Roebling, (builder
of the Brooklyn Bridge) two locks, a freight basin,
one mile section of water-filled canal (the only existing
section with a controlled source of water) and one mile
of working feeder canal. It also included many canal-era
structures (all in situ), including a locktenders' house,
canal grocery store (also known as the "Pie Shop"),
blacksmith's house and carpenter's house.
On the National Register of Historic
Places, this historic site, located in Cuddebackville,
Orange County, New York, was given to the County of
Orange, to be maintained by the Orange County Department
of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It became the
300-acre D&H Canal Park.
In 1980, the Neversink Valley Area
Museum moved into a 1799 saltbox structure now known
as the Blacksmith's House (lived in by several blacksmiths
during the time of the canal), in the D&H Canal
Park. The museum also became the official advisory to
the County of Orange for the restoration of the D&H
Canal Park. Over the next ten years, we developed exhibitions
relating to the canal and other aspects of local history,
started an elementary school program, sponsored tours
along the canal, initiated professional archaeological
excavations in the park and did an in-depth historical
survey of a section of the canal.
Thirty percent of the total collection
consists of artifacts relating directly to the D&H
Canal. This well-rounded collection of artifacts emphasizes
the section of the canal in the Town of Deerpark and
includes a large collection of photographs specifically
of the section of canal in the D&H Canal Park, other
original canal photographs, postcards produced at the
turn of the century with local canal scenes, books and
other written materials, detailed maps of the canal,
letters from Russell Lord, the chief canal engineer,
boat passes and broadsides with canal operation information.
Also on display are artifacts from
actual canal boats, such as rudders, tillers, a canal
boat tool box and bilge pumps. There are numerous canal
boat models, three actually made by men who worked on
the canal, and one made by an engineer working directly
from the canal company specifications for an 1878 boat.
Hardware from canal locks and eight foot granite snubbing
posts are some of the artifacts from the canal itself.
Tools used in building the canal and its boats, such
as hammers, picks, digging scoops and caulking hammers
tell the story of how the canal was built in only three
years, without the use of modern equipment. The Museum
is also fortunate to have oral histories and memoirs
of people who lived and worked on the canal.
The Museum has a number of activities
that are especially suited to kids and their families.
Kids are the target audience but parents have a great
time, too. We're getting our 2005 programs finalized.
Check back for new events. Narrated Boat Rides along
the D&H Canal every Sunday, June to mid-October
(30 minute boat rides, boat seats 12 people, rides are
April through December: Friday—Sunday, noon to
4pm (or by appointment)
Adults: $3.00, Children: $1.50, Under six & Members: