National Canal Museum

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The National Canal Museum is a history and technology museum located in Easton, Pennsylvania.

It is run by Hugh Moore Historical Park & Museum, Inc., which is also responsible for Hugh Moore Park, The Emrick Technology Center, Locktender's House Museum and the canal boat ride, Josiah White II.

The National Canal Museum resides in Hugh Moore Park, located just west of Easton.

History[edit]

The National Canal Museum opened in 1970 as a joint cooperative effort between the City of Easton's Hugh Moore Park Commission and the Pennsylvania Canal Society.[1] Sitting at the fork between the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, this small Museum was intended to highlight and operate Hugh Moore Park.

The Museum had been a destination for people interested in the canal, as well as school trips looking for information about transportation. In 1978 with the addition of the Josiah White, the canal boat ride became a distinctive part of a visit to the National Canal Museum.

In 1982 The Museum's Exhibits were redesigned to make the museum a National Museum of the towpath canal era. This redesign also acted as a catalyst for the expansion into the industrial heritage of the Lehigh Valley.

During this period, the National Canal Museum began hosting several major events, including the annual Canal Festival and annual Canal History and Technology Symposium, the latter being held at Lafayette College. By 1985, the Museum was realizing the ability for a complete collection and archival ability of important artifacts of both the canal era and the industrial revolution.

In 1996, the National Canal Museum moved to downtown Easton into Two Rivers Landing in an effort to revitalize the downtown district. Since that time, Two Rivers Landing receives an average of 250,000 visitors each year. Beginning in 2002, the Museum began a campaign to recreate the museum to add hands-on activities to the existing exhibits. A proposal to the National Science Foundation(NSF) resulted in a grant of $1.4 Million, later supplemented to $2 million for the creation of exhibits based on their proposal "Science and Technology of Canals and Inland Waterways."

This led to a brand new exhibit space installed in March 2006, incorporating the history, science, and technology of canal construction and navigation. In October 2008, the National Canal Museum was awarded the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience by the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

At the end of 2011, the 15 year lease period in Two Rivers Landing ended and was not renewed. In January 2012 the museum was relocated back to the canal in Hugh Moore Park, repurposing the Emrick Technology Center to act as the main exhibit and administrative space.

Collections[edit]

The museum’s collections reflect the material culture and document the history of America’s canals and navigable rivers, as well as canal-related industries in the Lehigh Valley. The museum’s holdings include 3,753 artifacts; 3,890 reels of film, video cassettes and audio (oral history) tapes; 52,782 slides, photographs and negative images; 31,824 engineering drawings; a library of more than 13,483 volumes; 736 linear feet of manuscript materials; and 261 rolls of microfilm. Among the museum’s archival holdings are rare film footage of canal life, historic photographs, canal maps, captain’s logs, a complete set of the Army Corps of Engineers’ annual reports to Congress, and engineering plans for 15 towpath canals east of the Mississippi River.

NCM is responsible for maintaining and interpreting the historic structures and sites within the 260 acres that comprise Hugh Moore Park, a National Register Historic District. These include Section 8 of the Lehigh Canal and its three operating locks, a locktender’s house, ruins from three 19th century industrial areas, and the remains of the Change Bridge, one of the first iron cable suspension bridges constructed in America.

The variety of artifacts and research materials promotes the appreciation, preservation and restoration of canal-related sites in the United States and Canada. Our interpreters use these resources to show visitors how canals helped create a regional and national economy. Visitors also learn about life on the canal and discover the technological advances that canals introduced. Through on- and off-site education programs we promote learning and appreciation of the transportation and industrial revolutions in the economic, technological and cultural history of the United States and the Lehigh Valley region.

Accreditations and affiliations[edit]

The National Canal Museum is accredited by American Alliance of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution

Hugh Moore Park[edit]

Hugh Moore Park is a City of Easton park nestled between the Lehigh River, and the Lehigh Canal. It covers 520 acres (2.1 km2), including part of the Lehigh river and section 8 of the Lehigh Canal. The area now known as Hugh Moore Park was originally an industrial park, built due to the large amount of anthracite coal being brought down the Lehigh Canal from present day Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

The park was purchased by the City of Easton in 1962, using money donated by Hugh Moore. This sparked the formation of the Pennsylvania Canal Society in 1966, and eventually led to the creation of the National Canal Museum. Through the course of several master plans for the part, improvements to the park and its facilities have continually enhanced visitor experience. These improvements include a bike/hiking trail, boat launch, pavilions, as well as preservation of industrial ruins and three locks, including the only working lift lock in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

The National Canal Museum is responsible for maintaining and interpreting the historic structures and sites within the 260 acres (1.1 km2) that comprise Hugh Moore Park (ignoring water surface), a National Register Historic District. These include Section 8 of the Lehigh Canal and its three operating locks, a locktender’s house, ruins from three 19th-century industrial areas, and the Change Bridge, one of the first iron cable suspension bridges constructed in America.

The Emrick Center[edit]

The Elaine and Peter Emrick Technology Center is a 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2), two-story brick building constructed to resemble a factory, the likes of which would have been seen throughout the park. The building holds a reception area, exhibit spaces, offices, and the Hugh Moore Park and Museums Archives.

The building opened in 2007. The inaugural exhibit, "From this Valley: Iron, Steel and the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution," tells the story of the Lehigh Valley's emergence as a powerhouse of industrial might. In 2012, the National Canal Museum relocated from Two Rivers Landing to the Emrick Center, and transferred most of the exhibits and hands-on educational activity stations there. The relocated Museum, which is adjacent to the mule-drawn canal boat, the Josiah White II, opened on Memorial Day weekend, 2012.


Archives[edit]

Also currently held in the Emrick Technology Center is the archives of the National Canal Museum. Since the inception of the institution and through all of its incarnations, and beginning with the first master plan, there has been provisions for the National Canal Museum to preserve the transportation and industrial history of the area. Since 1985 and the acquisition of property for this purpose, the collection has undergone rapid growth, and is now the premier site for information concerning canal transportation in America and technology of the Lehigh Valley

The museum's collection reflect these areas, and document the history of America's canals and navigable rives, as well as the related industries in the Lehigh Valley. According to the museum website:

"The museum's holdings include: 3,753 artifacts; 3,890 reels of film, video cassettes [sic.], and audio (oral history) tapes; 52,782 slides, photographs and negative images; 31,824 engineering drawings; a library of more than 13,483 volumes; 736 linear feet of manuscript materials; and 261 rolls of microfilm.[2]"

In addition to the large amount of historical artifacts and data, the museum also employs an in-house historian, available for lectures, researchers, and inquiries.

Locktender's House[edit]

Locktender's House and Guard Lock 8

The Locktender's House, with a museum on the first floor, is a restored locktender's house nestled between the Lehigh River and Guard Lock 8 on the Lehigh Canal. The Locktender's House represents the living and working conditions of people from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Locktender's House was built for the person with the responsibility of operating the lock. In order to ensure that lock was operated, the house was constructed as near to the lock as possible. Because of this, the opinion was that there was no reason for someone in the house to be unable to come out and operate the lock.

Opened in 1974, this museum is decorated period appropriately and is meant to provide a rough equivalent of what working on the canal would entail. Costumed guides provide background and information during a tour of the rooms of the house.

Josiah White II[edit]

The Josiah White II is the current boat used for the Canal Boat ride. It is a steel-hulled boat built in 1993 by Bethlehem Steel at the Sparrows Point shipyard in Maryland.

The original canal boat, named the Josiah White, served operationally during the summer from 1978 until 1993, when it was allowed to sink near the feeder gate for the canal. It currently serves as a visual aid for the canal boat ride

The canal boat ride was developed to provide context and historical information to the canal, including information about building, living, and working on the canal. Pulled by two mules, named Hank and George, the ride attempts to recreate the feel of moving down the canal during its operational period. Average rides are 40 minutes long, and discuss a multitude of topics which usually include:

  • Mules
  • Mule Tenders
  • Features of the canal
  • History of the canal

Timeline: Hugh Moore Historical Park & Museums[edit]

1962 The City of Easton Purchases Hugh Moore Park using money donated by Hugh Moore.
1963 The City of Easton Enters into an agreement with the Joint Planning Commission of Lehigh and Northampton counties to prepare a preliminary report on the park. As an outgrowth of this study, riding stables were established through a private concessionaire in the park.
1965 Ordinance No. 1877. City of Easton annexes Hugh Moore Park.
1966 Pennsylvania Canal Society formed.
1966 Initial Master Plan Prepared. The thrust of this master plan was to preserve the 260 acres (1.1 km2) of park lands along the lower 6 miles (9.7 km) of the Lehigh River. Also to preserve its transportation and industrial history.
1967 Ordinance No. 1966. City of Easton sets up the Hugh Moore Park Commission.
1969 Utilizing the first master plan, grants were obtained from Project 500 of the State of Pennsylvania, Federal Land and Ware Conservation Funds, and private donations to start the initial restoration and development within the Hugh Moore park.
1970 The Canal Museum at the Forks of the Delaware opens as a joint cooperative effort between the City of Easton's Hugh Moore Park Commission and the Pennsylvania Canal Society.
1973 A second master plan is developed. It primarily deals with land use and protection of the river corridor by surrounding municipalities.
1974 The Locktender's House Museum opens. Monies for exterior and interior restoration came from the initial development grants for the park. The interior exhibits were researched and laid out by the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley
1975–1976 The Hugh Moore Park Charitable Trust is formed with assets from the estate of Hugh Moore. The income from the Trust is designated for the operation and development of the Hugh Moore Park.
1976 Section 8 of the Lehigh Canal opens after a three-year restoration effort.
1976 The Friends of the Hugh Moore Park are formed as a non-profit corporation to assist in the development of Hugh Moore Park.
1978 The canal boat, Josiah White, Purchased by the Friends of Hugh Moore Park, is put into operation.
1979 The first annual Canal Festival is held.
1982 The Canal Museum's exhibits are redesigned to make the museum a national museum of the towpath canal era. This redesign also acts as a catalyst for the beginnings of the interpretation of our industrial heritage.
1982–1988 Playgrounds, bike paths, improved roads, a water line to the Locktender's House and many other projects are completed utilizing state grants, community development block grants, and private contributions.
1983 The reorganization of the Friends of Hugh Moore Park to take on the function of serving as a museum board in place of the joint agreement with the City and Pennsylvania Canal Society begins.
1984 The Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Friends of Hugh Moore Park are amended to restructure the organization and rename it as the Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums, Inc.
1985 The City of Easton sells the Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums the property for a collection and archival storage facility.
1985–1988 The Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums begins a systematic expansion of its collection reflecting the wider scope of activities relation to canals and industries within the region.
1986 Changing exhibits are instituted at the Canal Museum to explore various aspects of our related industrial history that cannot be adequately covered by permanent exhibits.
1988 The U.S. Congress passes and President Reagan signs a bill creating the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
1990 Huch Moore Historical Park and Museums signs an agreement with the City of Easton to assume management of programs and facilities
1992 Accreditation approved by AAM (American Alliance of Museums)
1994 Josiah White II put into use. The new boat has two decks to allow more passengers and catered meals to be served on board.
1996 A new National Canal Museum Opens in downtown Easton. Included in the new building is the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage corridor Visitor's Center and The Crayola FACTORY.
1997 Canal Boat Store expanded.
2000 Capital Campaign begins to raise money for the Center for Canal History and Technology at Hugh Moore Park. This new facility will feature technology and science exhibits.
2000 The first annual Immersion Days is held. This hands-on living history program is designed for students (grades 3–12).
2002 Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums is awarded a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a new multi-media program in the National Canal Museum.
2003 National Science Foundation awards National Canal Museum with a grant of $1.4 million (later awarded $200,000 supplemental grant) for development of new science and technology exhibits.
2006 New interactive NSF exhibits installed. New Exhibits convey fundamental concepts to illustrate how gravitational forces, simple mechanical tools, and the properties of water were manipulated by early engineers in order to build and efficient inland waterway transportation system.
2007 Emrick Technology Center Opens
2008 Awarded the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience by the Association of Science-Technology Centers INC.
2012 National canal Museum relocates to Hugh Moore Park, leaving Two Rivers Landing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Canal Museum Timeling
  2. ^ http://canals.org/researchers/About_the_Archives

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°39′44″N 75°14′20″W / 40.66224°N 75.23900°W / 40.66224; -75.23900