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Erie Canal Discovery Center

2:02 PM, Jun 21, 2013   |    comments
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The Erie Canal Discovery Center is a new state-of-the-art center celebrating the role that Lockport played in the history of the Erie Canal, consisting of interactive displays for all ages. Located at 24 Church St, Lockport NY with the Lockport Visitors' Center, and only a short walk from the Lockport Locks, the discovery center is fully handicapped accessible. Summer hours of operation are daily from 9 am  to 5 pm. Admission rates is $6 for adults, $4 for students under 13, and children under 5 are free of charge. For more information visit http://niagarahistory.org/discovery-center/ or contact 716-439-0431.

Explaining the role that Lockport played in the opening of the Erie Canal is the interpretive mission of the new Erie Canal Discovery Center. Visitors are drawn at once to the immense mural that is the artistic focal point of the Center. The mural, "The Opening of the Erie Canal, October 26, 1825" painted by A. Raphael Beck, depicts the grand celebration that accompanied Dewitt Clinton's passage through the locks at Lockport. The Beck mural forms the basis for much that happens at the Discovery Center. In addition to the beautiful "gallery" in which to display this piece of art, many of the "hands-on" interpretive exhibits draw from individuals depicted in the mural. Computer kiosks stationed in the viewing room allow the observer to meet and dialog with people from the past, as depicted in the Beck mural. After viewing the mural, guests are invited to enter an automated theater, where the audio/ visual recreation will help them to feel as if they really witnessed the events depicted. Following the narration, "passengers" will board a recreation of an actual Erie Canal packet boat, the Western Comet, for a night time "ride" upon the Erie Canal. The trip is fraught with sensory perceptions, sights and sounds from long ago. After completing the "canal trip," audiovisual stations such as the "Hard Rock Canal" and "Work the Lock" allow guests the hands-on opportunity to view the dolomite rock wall in Lockport and to navigate a model ship through an actual working series of locks. Additional displays are used to offer information regarding the life and times of "canawlers,"- people who lived and worked on the Erie Canal. Even the life of "canal kids" is explained to our visitors, young and old, alike. The National Park Service rounds out the many displays with their own description of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Patrons can complete their trip with a visit to the "Lock, Stock, & Barrel Mercantile" gift shop located on the lower level. Modern and bright, but reminiscent of a by-gone era, this warm and inviting shop beckons the visitor to browse and relax, and perhaps enjoy a leisurely snack before making the short trek to the locks.

 

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