Ever since the place opened in 1966, the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter has been something of a triple threat.
Originally designed as a place for visitors to learn about the Erie Canal, there’s also been plenty of Native American history associated with the site, especially in the past few years. And, if you’re more of an outdoor person just looking to commune with nature, Schoharie Crossing is also a great destination.
“People come and use our trails all the time,” said Dave Brooks, education coordinator at the site. “It’s 2.5 miles from the visitor center down to the Yankee Hill lock and our restored canal store, and we do have some parallel paths, as well. Our site is triangular in shape, sort of. You could take our woodchuck walk along the stone quarry, get to the Empire lock and the Yankee Hill lock and then come back on the overlook path and get a great view of the [Schoharie] Aqueduct.”
There are different access points to all the trails, but if you have the time you should stop in at the visitor center and learn some canal history. The spot is the only place where all three phases of the canal are visible, and it is the only section of the old canal that has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
And, while Native American history has been addressed at the site before, this month it takes on a much more important presence with the introduction of new interpretive panels and exhibits aimed at telling the story of the old fort on the grounds. Plenty of new evidence about old Fort Hunter was unearthed, both literally and figuratively, during Hurricane Irene’s visit to the area in the late summer of 2011.
“I’m willing to admit that my passion is Colonial history, so I’m very excited about our new exhibit,” said Brooks. “A lot of the early republic, that period between the American Revolution and the onset of the Civil War, doesn’t get enough coverage in our schools, and it is fascinating, and our canal history covers that time. Yes, most of the people coming here do so because of the canal history, but with this new exhibit, I think we’re going to have more people showing up to see the Native American and Colonial history.”
Schoharie Crossing has a busy week ahead. On Sunday, Robert Reiser, who collaborated with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger on two books, will be part of the Not Just For Kids Storytelling Series. A monthly meeting of the Schoharie Crossing Friends Group will convene Tuesday with Christina Reith of the New York State Museum making a presentation, and then on Wednesday, the Comic Book Project with Michael Bitz will visit the site.