Herkimer, New York



Make plans to visit Gems Along the Mohawk and Erie Canal Cruises this summer! We have a series of free education exhibits that illustrate the challenges and triumphs of the construction of the Erie Canal.

Our exhibits focus on the construction of the Erie Canal which began in 1817. The original Erie Canal was 40 foot wide by 4 foot deep ditch that was dug across New York state, primarily by hand. A device was invented that overcame an on-going challenge – the Stump Puller! We will have demonstrations and discussions on the Amazing Erie Canal!


Erie Canal Stump Puller

One of the biggest challenges during the construction of the Erie Canal was pulling stumps. One of the innovations of the time was a stump puller, a device that used leverage and horse power to pull the stumps out of the canal bed. We have a working 1817 stump puller, and will demonstrate this ingenious device that helped to speed up the construction of the Canal!


The 3 Erie Canals

The Three Erie Canals is a self-guided exhibit of 3 murals with the story of the three canals, the Original Erie Canal, the Enlarged Erie Canal, and the Barge Canal. We depict the canal prisms, how the canals were constructed and the routes they took. We also explore how each of the three canals were used and how they evolved over the years.


Erie Canal Innovation

Our Erie Canal Innovation Exhibit features exhibit items on loan from our friends at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY. We have period implements, tools, lanterns, and canal boat models to view in our fully-restored 1920 Erie Canal Freight Terminal Building.

Check out our free educational exhibits on the Erie Canal!

Along with our exhibits, we will have free family activities every weekend this summer depicting life along the Erie Canal in the 19th century. Join us and hand crank your own ice cream, visit with an original Erie Canal Hoggee and his horses, churn and sample your own butter, play games from yesteryear, sing and dance to traditional Erie Canal music, enjoy a visit from the Utica Zoo Mobile and see a fantastic waterfront fireworks show…this will be a summer of fun like no other!

Schedule of Bicentennial Events This Summer

Gems staff will be wearing historical clothing from 1817 – 1910

-Free sample tastings  

$2017 Gift Basket Raffle  

-Video and music featuring Erie Canal history


June 3: Ice Cream Day  1-4pm – hand crank & sample home made ice cream

June 10: Laundry Day  1-4pm – grab a washboard and scrub

June 17: Butter Day 1-4pm  – churn & sample home made butter

June 19: Gems of Distinction

June 24: Utica Zoo Mobile  1-4pm – visit the live animals from the Utica Zoo

July 1: FIREWORKS Gems – 9:30pm

July 4th: Bicentennial Celebration  – Special Celebration  – Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Construction of the Erie Canal

July 8: Hoggee Day  1-4pm – Erie Canal Hoggee with draft horses

July 15: Author Day 1-4pm – Erie Canal book signings

July 22: Ice Cream Day 1-4pm – hand crank & sample home made ice cream

July 29: Erie Canal Day 1-4pm – 19th century children’s activities

Aug. 5: Barbara Sabo Dunadee 1-4pm – Women Belong in History author, book signing and discussion

Aug. 12: Hoggee Day 1-4pm  – Erie Canal Hoggee with draft horses

Aug. 19: Erie Canal Music 1-4pm – Erie Canal music by Bells & Motley

Aug. 26: Women’s Equality Day  1-4pm –  Local authors, books signings

September 2: Special Event – “Movie and Music”

Join us for a very special event filled with the sights, sounds and culture of the ditch that changed America! On Saturday, September 2nd beginning at 4:00pm, Erie Canal Cruises will screen the film “Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal” in the restored Erie Canal freight terminal building. This 30-minute film takes us on the journey of prosperity and hardships on the most storied canal in the world.
Continuing the celebration, our special “Cruise with the Dady Brothers & Kit Fallon” will run from 5:30-7:30pm, and feature all your favorite folk songs from one of the most popular Erie Canal groups in the world! The Dady’s music transcends genres and generations by the melding of American Folk Roots and Irish Traditional influences into an amalgam of sound that is uniquely their own.