FIFTEEN MILES ON THE
Just a few miles south of
In my travels around
One hundred and seventy seven years later,
“The canal was the leading edge of technology in its day” says Mike Milewski, known locally as “Mr. Erie Canal”. “You could say that if there was no
In 1973, the city fathers of
The tavern, blacksmith shop, general store, railroad station, church, barn, three period homes, and schoolhouse, among others all came together to form a village that may have existed along the canal, and reflect the effect the canal had on the people who lived along its banks. The schoolhouse came complete with its own records. “We have records showing the names of children who worked on the canal boats, spending four winter months in our schoolhouse, then going back to the canal never to be heard from again,” said Melody Milewski, Mike’s wife and the dynamo that keeps the village in a constant state of motion.
“I cross that bridge, and I step back in time” said volunteer Dina Zonneville in the one room schoolhouse which had been in used for over a hundred years. It is now a living display, complete with Mc Guffey Eclectic Readers, wood-burning stove and a collection of school-bells that were used in every village school at the time. I couldn’t agree with her more.
On a tour, Melody points out the three period homes that sprung up along the canal, showing the effect of the wealth it created. We begin with the simple 1803 Settler’s home, reflecting a basic subsistence lifestyle. Moving on to the 1840
And this is the beauty of the place that always brings me back. Sipping a cider in the Bennett Tavern and
I walk into the Harden Museum of Transportation, where horse-drawn sleighs bring the sound of sleigh bells ringing to my consciousness while Brougham carriages, forerunners of the Lincolns and Cadillac’s that replaced them, still embody the prosperity that many enjoyed here.
After any tour to see what they have added since my first visit here years ago, after watching Mike make gallon after gallon of pure apple cider—and drinking more than my share of it—I always top off the day with a canal boat ride.
“I’VE GOT A MULE AND HIS NAME IS SAL”, Melody’s contralto sings out from the upper deck of the packet boat, the
The spirit of the Fifteen Miles that changed the course of the country is alive and well at