The last day to view the traveling exhibit “A Monument of Progress: The Erie Canal” at the Geneva Historical Society is 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11. Created in 2000 by the Mandeville Gallery of Union College for the 175th anniversary of the canal’s completion, this exhibit explores the building of the Erie Canal, one of the greatest engineering feats of American history.
“A Monument of Progress” provides two views of the canal during its early years. One view is that of the engineers who built and expanded the canal. Their detailed drawings of canal structures reveal the complexity of this undertaking in an era before earth-moving equipment or the combustion engine. The suggestion of digging a canal by hand for over 360 miles from Albany to Buffalo was considered by some, including Thomas Jefferson, to be madness, yet ingenuity and brute force made the canal a reality. These drawings document the engineers’ efforts to tame nature to human purposes.
Those who traveled on the waterway present a second view of the canal. Their writings, paintings, and descriptions reveal the canal as a wonder of progress and as a sometimes-unpleasant part of everyday life. Also included in the exhibit are scale models of several lick structures. Supplementing the traveling portion are items from the Society’s collection on the Seneca and Cayuga Canal, an interactive model of a lock, and Yolanda Schofield’s series of drawings of the ruins of the old Erie Canal.
The Geneva Historical Society Museum is located at the Prouty-Chew House at 543 South Main Street and is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 789-5151.