PO Box 122, Boonville, New York 13309
Phone: (315) 942-6763



Black River
Canal History

Black River

Boat Plans

Whipple Bridge

Photo Gallery

Black River
Canal Today




Upcoming 2022 Events

October 10
Museum closes for the season


The Boonville Black River Canal Museum is located in Boonville, New York at the
Junction of Main Street and Route 12 on the Banks of the Original Canal.


We are closed for the 2022 season.

Thank you for stopping by to visit and support this year.

We look forward to seeing you in the Spring of 2023!



The 77-mile long Black River Canal was an engineering marvel of the 19th century.  Built between 1837 and 1855, the Black River Canal ran uphill, connecting the waters of the Erie Canal with those of Black River.  The southern section of the overland canal linked Rome and Boonville, a distance of  25 miles.  Following the rugged Lansing Kill Gorge, this section of the canal rose 693 feet and required 70 locks.  The northern section of the overland canal connected Boonville and Lyons Falls, a distance of 10 miles.  This section of the canal descended 386 feet and required 39 locks.  All together, the Black River Canal had 109 locks--still a world record.   Between Lyons Falls and Carthage, a distance of 42 miles, the Black River itself was canalized for slack-water navigation.  By giving the North Country access to  eastern and midwestern markets, the Black River Canal was instrumental in the region's growth and prosperity.
(History of the Black River Canal)


For more than a half a century, the Black River Canal played a central role in the life of  the North Country.  Appreciating the  rich historical legacy of the canal, a group of interested Boonville residents secured a charter from the New York State Board of Regents to construct a museum that will preserve, house, and display artifacts and memorabilia from the canal era.  The Boonville Black River Canal Museum has become a reality and a desirable destination. Located on the corner of Main Street and NYS Rt 12 in Boonville, NY, the museum has gained recognition as a hidden gem that beckons to be explored.

One enters the Museum into the Hemlock Mercantile Building that doubles as a gift shop and exhibit area with a diorama of Boonville in the days of the canal.   The next building serves as an exhibit hall and conference room with an extensive collection of period photographs and fascinating artifacts. Here, there is seating for viewing the excellent descriptive video, “Little Ditch-The Black River Canal”.

  The third building, is an original mule barn converted into an interactive (hands-on) activity area featuring a mini canal that invites folks to pilot a small scale boat through  working locks.   Also within the building are other stations that teach and explore the use of pulleys, navigation with a boat rudder, and even loading canal boats with a crane.

  Visitors then enter a full scale replica of a canal boat featuring living quarters at one end and a mule stable at the other. The walls of the boat are filled with pictures of the locks and people of the time. Exhibits in the middle highlight the commodities that were hauled on the canal. The last building open to the public, is the George Bardo Blacksmith Shop which was a generous donation from the Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake.  Originally from Beaver Falls, NY, it is a cultural treasure complete with tools, horseshoes, beautifully restored carriage and sleigh and even a horse.

With the help of funding from grants and so many local penny drive contributors, the Remp-Sawyer Warehouse building was constructed during 2017.  This two story structure houses the museums overflow and provides a workshop area for maintenance throughout the museum.


1874 Beers Map of Boonville Canal District.
(Click on image for large view)

The Boonville Black River Canal Museum is located on a site formerly occupied by the Titus Powers Iron Works, built circa 1850 near the Main Street Bridge.  The site later became the Holdridge and Gilbert Foundry and Machine Shop.  This foundry is shown on the 1874 Beers map.

Foundry Circa 1932




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