Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY, Part Two

See Part One of our visit to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. This is Part Two.

After pulling the children off the packet boat and into the Museum, we wandered around the halls. There was a great deal to see and explore, and I wanted to soak it all in. From the packet boat display, we entered into the original 1850 building. I was overcome by the architectural beauty of the building.

Hallway and Bank Office

Pressed Metal

Pressed Metal Ceiling

The ceilings and walls were covered with elaborate pressed metal from the 1850s (I have some of it in my own house, still). There were several layers of paint covering it, which gave it a soft appearance. I’d never seen walls done this way. The trim was in wood. The lighting looked original, too; I later saw a photo of NYS engineers’ office from the 40s, and the lights were the same. Imagine– a canal weighlock building designed so beautifully! It’s funny, how such elegant buildings were built for such mundane or totally pragmatic functions. I’d recently seen photos of the Utica Psychiatric Building, which is the greatest example of Greek Revival architecture, but was built as a mental hospital and later became a place for alcohol and drug rehab. Amazing.

We wandered around a few rooms and enjoyed displays of everything from packet boat models to artifacts to office reproductions.

Into Another Display Room

Model of the Canal Lock System

Fines Signs

Office Reproduction

The Gargoyle Bites

I was thrilled to see an entire section devoted to Elizabeth Cotten. How I used to love singing her old songs! I didn’t know she was from Syracuse until I moved away. Her song, “Freight Train,” was one of my favorites as a kid.

Libba Cotten display

Libba Cotten’s Grammy and her SAMMY award were on display, too. There were displays about Syracuse’s salt mines, shoe manufacturing, and the lovely Syracuse China.

Syracuse China Plaque

As if all this wasn’t enough, there was another floor to the Museum. We enjoyed our elevator ride up.

Elevator Doors

We entered the second-floor into a number of life-sized displays from the Erie Canal days, including a tavern, a general store, and a theatre stage. Elsewhere on the floor are an exhibition called “The Art of the Draughtsman” which featured original drawings of the Canal plans, and photographs. And there was a huge dress-up area with children’s tables, books, toys, bean bags, and puppets and a puppet stage. Needless to say, the kids LOVED every second of it.


Bar Woodwork

All Nations Welcome

General Store

I saw another hair wreath! I’d first seen one when we visited the Old Stone Fort in Schoharie. What weird things! This one was very intricate.

Hair Wreath

A curio cabinet displayed beautiful dishes. We found one with Utica on it!

Utica Plate

Erie Canal Plate

The Utica plate information had me stunned. I never knew Utica was once “inferior to none in the western section of the state”! This is proof that Utica was thriving before the Italian mafia took over! Ha!

The kids had a blast in the children’s area, even the teenagers.

Stuffed Beaver

What Do These Do

Dress Ups

We had an absolutely wonderful time! I’m glad we decided to go!

About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (11)

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  1. […] and travels in Upstate New York « Travel Blog News Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY, Part Two […]

  2. Marie says:

    Great details! Luv the ceiling! 🙂

  3. Mercedes says:

    What beautiful pictures and places. I need to move back east because I love “old” building and their history.

  4. Apple says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the museum. I knew you’d love the architectural details!

  5. Marie– I couldn’t stop looking and taking pictures of the ceiling! I must have looked so silly, like a typical tourist!

    Mercedes– I didn’t know you are from the east! There is so much history and that is why I love it so much.

    Apple– thanks for the recommendation. It WAS great fun and I did love the architecture. And looks like you are starting to know my style. 😉

  6. Chris McKenna says:

    Hope you can do me a favor, The Bufflao Zoo is opening The Heritage Farm, in this is included a replicata of a 1850 Packet Boat W/canal. I have been ask to make the in side cabin to look like an 1850 style Packet Boat with furnature, wall hangings, the works. Problem, although I can find plenty of pictures of the out side, can’t find anything on how the inside looks. Can you help me.

    Thanks Chris McKenna

  7. Apple says:


    Try this link. The main cabin of the boat in Syracuse is set up with several display boards. Mrs Mecomber’s pics in Part1 show what the bunks would have looked like – there were simply many more of them.

  8. I just wanted to thank you for the picture tour throught the museum. We plan to take our daughter this week. It looks like a very nice place with great information and alot of interactive things to do. We can’t wait to take our tour and enjoy the experience.

  9. Mimi smith says:

    Thanks for the wonderful show on the Erie canal museum. We really want to

    Visit after seeing your virtual tour! You’ve done quite a good service!

    Thanks again, Mimi smith