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In The News

Erie Canal Geographic Conference

May 05, 2012
Timothy McDonnell

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 Over 40 teachers, museum educators, canal promoters came together for the Erie Canal Geographic Conference on Friday April 27, 2012 at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. The New York Geographic Alliance partnered with the CLCBM to present a six-hour conference on teaching about the Erie Canal.

The day was full of  great activities relating to the geographic significance of the Erie Canal at one of the jewels on the entire canalway.... the CLCBM! During the golden era of the canal, this is one of the sites where canal boats were built and repaired. An entire community sprang up around it. The modern canal passes Chittenango by, but the Old Erie Canal is still watered here, and the volunteers of this museum have brought the Landing back, better than ever!

Tim McDonnell, Co-Coordinator of the NY Geographic Alliance presented materials that we have created about the Erie Canal. Each participant received a book on the Erie Canal Project and a flash drive filled with articles, maps, photographs, and Google Earth KML files on the canal. Susan Hoskins of the IRIS Program at Cornell University demonstrated how easy it easy to make customized Google Earth tours. Many participants expressed interest in having a workshop devoted solely to learning that skill. After that, the participants went outside (it was an unusually cold and windy day for April) to tour the museum grounds. They saw a blacksmith at work, and Gilles Roy and Joan DiGristina (a.k.a. "Grandma O'Brien") demonstrated life on a canal boat.

After a nice lunch (topped off with canal boat cookies!), participants were given time to share what resources they have at their institutions. This included talks from the Matilda Josyln Gage Museum, Canastota Canal Town Museum, Chenango Canal Society, Canal New York, the Camillus Erie Canal Park, and more. Most participants were pleased with the conference, and they expressed interest in getting together again in the near future to learn about other aspects of the canalway in another part of the state.

Joe DiGiorgio talked about the new wagon exhibit at Canastota Canal Town Museum and Gilles Roy of the Chittenango Canal Boat Museum demonstrated how they filled into cracks on the sides of boats in the 1800s.

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