Located along the banks of the beautiful Neversink River, D&H Canal Park, home to our museum, has a well-preserved section of the canal and numerous canal-era buildings. This historic complex is so well preserved and so historically significant that it has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
A private, non-profit organization, the Museum occupies historic canal-era buildings in D&H Canal Park right on the Neversink River. In addition to our exhibitions, the museum provides various educational activities for children and adults throughout the year. The mission of the Neversink Valley Area Museum, a non-profit organization, is to preserve, document and interpret the history of the Neversink River Valley of Orange County, from its beginnings to the present, through exhibitions, educational programs and publications for children and adults.
The Neversink Valley Area Museum was founded in 1967 by a group of concerned citizens, along with the overwhelming support of many local organizations. For some time they had been concerned with rapid development that was encroaching upon and threatening to destroy important historic sites within the valley. Working with representatives from the New York State Council on the Arts, local residents began the formation of a museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Neversink Valley. They decided that the emphasis would be on the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which transported coal from Honesdale, Pennsylvania to Kingston, New York (over 108 miles) from 1828-1898, and was a major influence in the development of our area during the 19th century.
For the first 10 years, the museum did not have a permanent home and operated out of various donated office spaces, becoming known as "The Museum Without Walls". Through numerous traveling exhibitions, slide shows, programs and fund raising events (all done solely through volunteer effort), the museum continuously educated the community on local history, the history of the D&H Canal, and the importance of historical preservation.
In 1979, the newly formed Orange County Citizens Foundation raised over $100,000 to purchase land to be preserved as a historic site. This land included over one mile of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, with important canal features such as the remains of the Neversink River Aqueduct built by John Roebling, (builder of the Brooklyn Bridge) two locks, a freight basin, one mile section of water-filled canal (the only existing section with a controlled source of water) and one mile of working feeder canal. It also included many canal-era structures (all in situ), including a locktenders' house, canal grocery store (also known as the "Pie Shop"), blacksmith's house and carpenter's house.
In 1980, the Neversink Valley Area Museum moved into a 1799 saltbox structure now known as the Blacksmith's House (lived in by several blacksmiths during the time of the canal), in the D&H Canal Park. The museum also became the official advisory to the County of Orange for the restoration of the D&H Canal Park. Over the next ten years, we developed exhibitions relating to the canal and other aspects of local history, started an elementary school program, sponsored tours along the canal, initiated professional archaeological excavations in the park and did an in-depth historical survey of a section of the canal.
On the National Register of Historic Places, this historic site, located in Cuddebackville, Orange County, New York, was given to the County of Orange, to be maintained by the Orange County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It became the 300-acre D&H Canal Park.
Since the late 1980's the museum has restored the 1890's barn located behind the blacksmith's house, utilizing it for expanded museum programs for children and adults, as well as an area for an interpretive exhibition, "Early Farming in America", restored the Carpenter's House (Leura Murray Center), which became the main museum building and is used for expanded museum store, exhibition and office space. We opened a joint exhibition with the Orange County Chapter of the NYS Archaeology Society, "Orange County Archaeology". We created and installed a permanent exhibition on the D&H Canal, "Black Diamonds and the D&H Canal", which included videos, a wall-size map of the canal and a working canal lock model.
Also in 1994 we republished "Canal Boat To Freedom", an award winning children’s historical novel on the D&H Canal and created a video children's video, "Explore the D&H Canal". We also researched, created and installed a major exhibition on silent films made in the area called "Movies Before Hollywood: A Legacy of Film Making in the Tri-State Area". In 1996 and 1997, we opened a 275 sq. ft. full-size canal boat replica with hands on canal activities for children, created and implemented a new school field trip program on the Lenape Native Americans, and researched, created and installed a new exhibition, "The Artistry of the Blacksmith" in our working blacksmith shop.
The Museum is chartered by the New York State Education Department and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Exhibitions such as Black Diamonds and the D&H Canal with videos, artifacts, a working lock model, photographs and information on canal technology, history, boating and canal life, Orange County Archaeology, a joint exhibition with the Orange County Chapter of the NYS Archaeology Society on the history of the Lenape Native Americans and The Artistry of the Blacksmith; which illustrates the art and life of the blacksmith in our working blacksmith shop. A self-guided audio or written walking tour of the one-mile section of the D&H Canal in the park Neversink Nellie, a full-size D&H Canal boat replica and hands on activity center for children Large herb garden and Lenape Native American Three-Sister's Garden of corn, beans and squash The Museum Store with a large selection of canal and local history publications, stationary, cards, toys and gifts.
Open: April through December: Friday—Sunday, noon to 4pm (or by appointment)
Under six & Members: FREE
Educational programs for adults, including lectures on canal and local history, nature and canal walks and workshops. Educational programs for school groups including a three hour D&H Canal program for fourth and fifth grade students and a three hour Lenape Native American program for first to fourth grade students. A library on the D&H Canal and local history (open by appointment only).
The D&H Canal Park and our Museum are located along the banks of the beautiful Neversink River.
Take a day trip or plan a weekend to explore the natural beauty and fascinating history of Orange County. Make us a part of your destination.
26 Hoag Road
Cuddebackville, NY 12729
To get to Cuddebackville Orange County, New York: from Port Jervis, take Rt. 209 10 miles north or from Rt. 17 (the Quickway) take exit #113 and head 10 miles south, The Museum is located in the D&H Canal Park on Rt. 209. A good landmark is the beautiful green iron bridge over the Neversink River just south of the park.
References and photos above from the Neversink Valley Area Museum.
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