Herkimer, New York


Celebrate 200 years of innovation as we celebrate the most successful public works project in history! We will have several free exhibits to celebrate this milestone.

Beginning in 1817, the construction of the Erie Canal began, and was dug primarily by hand. The construction began at the summit of the Erie Canal in Rome, NY. The terrain was relatively flat, and with the soft soil there this would be one of the “easier” sections of the canal to complete. The construction continued for over  eight years until “Clinton’s Ditch” went from Albany to Buffalo!


Visit us and see our FREE educational exhibits on the Erie Canal Construction.

The place to be this summer is Gems Along the Mohawk and Erie Canal Cruises! From our season opening on May 20th, we will have a series of free education exhibits on site to illustrate the challenges and triumphs of the construction of the Erie Canal.

Along with our exhibits, we will have free family activities every weekend 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


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 will recreate an 1817 stump puller and demonstrate this ingenious device that helped to speed up the construction of the Canal!


The 3 Erie Canals

The Three Erie Canals will be a self-guided exhibit of the story of the three canals, the Original Erie Canal, the Enlarged Erie Canal, and the Barge Canal. We will show 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 will feature exhibit items on loan from our friends at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY. We will have period implements, tools, lanterns, and canal boat models to view in our fully-restored 1920 Erie Canal Freight Terminal Building.