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Neversink Valley Area Museum

The Neversink 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 $5.00).

Visiting the Neversink Valley Area Museum

April through December: Friday—Sunday, noon to 4pm (or by appointment)

Adults: $3.00, Children: $1.50, Under six & Members: FREE

Specifics on visiting the Neversink Valley Area Museum were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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