Friday, February 7, 2014

Snowshoeing in a Winter Wonderland…

Our latest adventure brought us to Rice Creek Field Station at SUNY Oswego. Located just off Thompson Road in Oswego, the facility is a hidden gem for students and the community to learn about and engage with the great outdoors that Oswego County is so well known for.

Rice Creek Field Station opened in 1966 on property that was once farmland. With nearly 400 acres of varied habitats that support diverse plant and wildlife, it includes open fields, shrub lands, streams and creeks. Visitors will also discover mature hardwood forests that were once part of a farm woodlot and abandoned orchards, stone walls and hedgerows from its earlier days as an agriculture site. When the facility was first developed, conifer plantations were introduced along with select European and Asian trees and shrubs. A 26-acre pond was also created by the construction of a dam on Rice Creek.

The history of the area can be traced back to the late 18th century when Asa and Elizabeth Rice settled with their family at the mouth of Rice Creek, then known as Three Mile Creek. Eventually, they moved upstream and other families joined them to establish a small farming community called Union Village, later renamed Fruit Valley.

The facility closed in 2012 for a major renovation project and was re-opened last fall. At more than 7,600 square feet, the new main building is double the size of its predecessor. It contains state-of-the-art wet and dry laboratories, a research lab and library, a lecture room and reception area, an observatory control room and administrative offices.

The renovation project included advances in green technology. It was built to be close to a net-zero carbon emissions structure and achieve LEED Gold Certification. The exterior has high-rated insulation and a sun-shade system to reduce energy consumption. Other features include advanced storm water retention basins, rain gardens, energy-efficient heating and cooling, light and motion sensitive lighting as well as a rooftop solar system that provides approximately 40 percent of the facility’s electricity.

True to its purpose as a living laboratory, the field station continues to maintain the Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden and an extensive trail network for people to learn about and enjoy nature first-hand. The grounds now also include the 16” telescope observatory which was relocated from the Romney Field House parking lot.

Here is a map overview of the property:

The four nature trails are open to the public and vary in length, terrain and habitat. All of the trails allow hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing; however, only the Orange Trail also permits biking. As this is a wildlife study area, visitors are asked to stay on designated trails and not remove or disturb wildlife or vegetation. For the same reason, other outdoor activities such as camping, boating, swimming, hunting, trapping or fishing are not allowed on site and visitors are asked to carry out any trash they create or find.

We recently took advantage of the new snowfall and moderate temperatures to enjoy an afternoon snowshoe hike on the Blue Trail. Here is our adventure:

In addition to hosting student classes and research projects, Rice Creek Field Station also engages the community with a variety of nature programs throughout the year. “Exploring Nature” targets the natural curiosity of children. “Rice Creek Rambles” invites individuals and families to follow a naturalist-led walk through the property to learn about the environs. “Story Hour” introduces children and families to wildlife and the environment through stories. These programs are all free and open to the public. An adult must accompany children and space is limited, so programs cannot accommodate groups.

Don’t miss these upcoming programs at Rice Creek:

Rice Creek Rambles
February 8: Snowshoe Hike
March 8: Track Tales
March 22: Winter Weeds

Story Hour
February 22: “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen and John Schoenher
March 29: “The Stranger” by Chris Van Allsburg

More Important Dates:
March 1: Deadline for “Exploring Nature” scholarship applications
               (go to for more information)
March 8: the river’s end bookstore hosts a book sale at Rice Creek
March 30: Ecology and Environmentalism Presentation

For more information about Rice Creek Field Station and its programs, trail maps and conditions, or to schedule a group tour, call 315/312-6677, e-mail or go to
For more ways to enjoy our winter wonderland, go to



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Trees Come Marching In...

Ring in the holiday season this year at the John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton! Friends of Fulton History presents its annual Parade of Trees, a two-week event that features a dozen Christmas trees trimmed with festive handmade decorations by members of local schools, businesses and community organizations.

The trees display a variety of themes such as “The Christmas Story” by the Fulton Public Library, “Puzzle Pieces Big and Small, a Very Merry Christmas to One and All” by ARC of Oswego County, “A Sweet Christmas” by Lanigan Elementary in Fulton, and “The Wizard of Oz” by Kathy’s Cakes in Fulton.

Lanigan Elementary students Joey Blair, Isabella Jodway and Khloe Bergman
proudly display their Christmas tree decorated with sweet treats!

Melissa Wells of Kathy's Cakes decorates the Christmas tree
with clever handcrafted ornaments to showcase the world of Oz.

Sandy DeSantis and Kathy King trim the tree with handmade decorations by the
Fulton Public Library's Tuesday After School Crafters, Tuesday-Wednesday Story Hour,
and Thursday LEGO Club.

ARC of Oswego County presents,
"Puzzle Pieces, Big and Small, A Very Merry Christmas to One and All!"
Other groups participating in the event include: First Step Universal Pre-K (UPK) in Fulton, G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, Girl Scouts in Fulton, Noah’s Christian Nursery School in Oswego, Oswego Industries Day Hab Program in Fulton, Towpath Towers in Fulton, Uniforms, Etc. in Fulton, and the Woman’s Club of Fulton.

The parade begins with an open house from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 1. Wander among the colorful trees and historical displays as you enjoy holiday music and refreshments. Bring the kids for the show as Imaginations Unlimited presents the Marionettes Magic Theatre between 2 and 3 p.m.

The parade continues Monday, December 2 to Friday, December 13. Visit the Pratt House Museum, 177 S. First St., Fulton, and choose your favorite Christmas tree display. Throughout the event, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 7.

John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton

A little history about the museum…

Timothy and Hannah, parents of John Wells Pratt, were among the earliest settlers of Fulton. Their son had an extensive boat-building business and transported goods between Oswego and Albany. A successful farmer, businessman and civic leader, Pratt was a leading donor to Fulton’s Falley Seminary and served as its superintendent for six years. He was also a director of the Citizens National Bank of Fulton for more than twenty years.

This historic home was built in 1861 for Pratt and his wife Harriet, and remained in their family for more than 100 years. In 1975, the property was acquired from the Pratt family and the carriage house was razed to make way for a restaurant. Through the efforts of several community leaders, the house was saved from demolition and the Historical Society of Fulton was formed, naming the Pratt House as its museum and headquarters.

The museum contains a beautifully carved staircase, two marble fireplaces, antique musical instruments, early framed maps and an original telephone switchboard. There is also a detailed period kitchen from the early 1900s with Mrs. Pratt’s combination coal and gas stove. Other exhibits highlight local history including agriculture, industry, the Oswego canal and residents’ daily life.

Pratt House Museum’s exquisite marble fireplace

Pratt House Museum’s exquisite marble fireplace

The John Wells Pratt House Museum is open year-round, either by appointment or with seasonal hours. Regular admission is $2 for adults and free for children under age 18. For more information about the museum or the Parade of Trees, call 315/598-4616. To learn more about Oswego County’s history, go to


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Uncovering the past...

Home to the most Underground Railroad sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in New York State, Oswego County and its people have long stood for freedom and equality for all. Our newest museum, the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, commemorates our connection to this significant chapter in our nation’s history.

In 1827, Colonel William Fitch erected this mercantile shop in the village of Mexico, N.Y. Later, it would become an important part of the story due to the actions of one of the many abolitionists in the area, Starr Clark.

Clark was born on August 2, 1793 in Lee, Massachusetts and later spent time as a youth in Utica, New York. He married Harriet Loomis from Verona when he was 22 years old and, a year later, the couple moved to Danby, just south of Ithaca. During this time, they experienced a religious conversion that had a profound effect on the rest of their lives. Of their eight children, a son born in 1831 was named after Theodore Weld, who was at that time one of the best-known abolitionist orators in the country.

In 1832, Clark was hired to run Colonel Fitch’s store in Mexico. He was paid $350 per annum, which included use of the neighboring house and garden. In the store, he sold dry goods and groceries and later added a tin and stove shop, which became a community gathering place. People collected their mail, read the daily paper and discussed politics and social issues of the day, including the abolitionist movement.
Oswego County was a hotbed of abolitionist activity and the tin shop and many houses in the surrounding area were “stations” on the Underground Railroad. This was not an actual “railroad,” but rather, a network of people and places that provided aid to slaves who had escaped their masters and sought a life of freedom.

Clark himself was an organizer of the Oswego County Anti-Slavery Society, and wrote the first anti-slavery petition sent to the U.S. Congress from Oswego County. Like many of his neighbors, Clark opened up his home to these “freedom seekers” and they were welcomed, hidden from authorities, and provided with fresh clothing and hot meals while arrangements were made to transport them to Canada.

One famous case in our history was “The Jerry Rescue.” A group of abolitionists, including Clark, planned to rescue William “Jerry” Henry (McHenry), an escaped slave charged under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. After his rescue, “Jerry” was secretly transported and hidden along the Underground Railroad in Oswego County before finally making safe passage to Kingston, Ontario, Canada where he remained the rest of his days.

Posted here are a few images of the museum:

This building is just one of many well-documented and recognized Underground Railroad locations in Oswego County, and one of only a few sites open to the public. Stop in to learn more about this brave heritage and the restoration of the original tin shop.
The Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, 3250 Main St., Mexico, N.Y. is open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, or by appointment. Admission is free. To schedule a tour, call 315/963-7898.

The Mexico Historical Society presents...
During our visit to the museum, we caught up with our friends Marge and Dave Thomas from the Children's Glassworks Theater in Cleveland, N.Y. As guest speaker, Marge shared a bit of history about the children's theater and its namesake, Cleveland Glass Works.  

This year, the troupe’s annual Christmas production is a trilogy of short plays featuring children of various age groups. The stories include “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “The False Sir Santa Claus,” and “The Christmas Gift.” As in the past, the scripts are adapted for the stage by Marge herself to be sure that every child has a role to play. The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14 at the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Road in Cleveland. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children. For event details, call 315/675-8517.

For more information about the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum, visit or find the “Mexico Historical Society Museum” on Facebook. To learn more about Oswego County’s history, go to


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bringing Art to Life

ARTSwego welcomes students and the community back to the SUNY Oswego campus as it launches its 2013-2014 Performing Arts Series with The Cashore Marionettes!

Master puppeteer Joseph Cashore leads this widely-acclaimed company, enthralling audiences across the globe with his life-like creations and graceful movements. His remarkable collection of enchanting pieces demonstrates his unparalleled artistry. For more than 30 years, Cashore has designed and given life to these unique works of art.

The marionette first caught his eye when he was a boy on a family vacation. Upon seeing the suspended puppet, his imagination took flight. Cashore went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Notre Dame and later studied portrait and figure painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His many accomplishments include the Henson Foundation Grant and the Pew Fellowship for Performance Art. He was also named a PennPAT Roster Artist and awarded the UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the highest honor a U.S. puppeteer can receive.

Here are samples of his brilliant talent, courtesy of the Cashore Marionettes:

Cashore shares his craft with audiences through an extended four-day residency program which will include visits to three local communities in addition to his performances on campus.

The first “meet-and-greet” takes place on Thursday, September 5 at 7 p.m. at the H. Lee White Marine Museum  in Oswego and the second is scheduled for Friday, September 6 at 7 p.m. at the CNY Arts Center in Fulton. Adults and children ages 8 and above will enjoy meeting the artist as he discusses and demonstrates his inspiration and passion for puppetry. For both of these events, admission is free for children accompanied by an adult, and adults are asked to make a $3 donation to the host organization.

Then, on Saturday, September 7, the Cashore Marionettes present two performances in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre on the SUNY Oswego campus.

At 2 p.m., “Simple Gifts,” a short matinee for families begins. This performance entertains children through a series of acts that highlight characters and actions from everyday life. Families will delight in the theatrical illusion of Cashore’s masterful puppetry, set to a backdrop of classical music. This program is best suited to children age 8 and older. Admission is $5 for both children and adults with open general seating.

At 7:30 p.m., the troupe offers older audiences their full-length feature, “Life in Motion.” This show welcomes adults and young adults as the artists demonstrate the very essence of humanity, from the comedic to the tragic, through a series of short but powerfully entertaining portrayals with engaging characters and evocative music. Admission is $18 for adults and $5 for students.

Cashore wraps up his residency with a marionette master class for adults and art students who are interested in learning more about his technique. The session takes place on Sunday, September 8 at 2 p.m. at the Salmon River Fine Arts Center in Pulaski. For admission details, call the center at (315) 298-7007.

The Cashore Marionettes’ community residency program is made possible by grant funding from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by CNY Arts. It is also made possible by the partnering host organizations.

Committed to artistic excellence, ARTSwego presents diverse cultural programming to enrich and entertain students and the surrounding community. For more events, visit Advance tickets for SUNY Oswego performances can be purchased at any SUNY Oswego Box Office. Parking for these shows is included in the cost of the ticket and is available in lots E-6 (in front of Culkin Hall) and E-18 (behind Hart and Funnelle halls).

Join ARTSwego for this truly one-of-a-kind experience and enjoy the show!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Colorful History Unveiled!

Welcome back!
It has been far too long since our last adventure together, so let us begin anew… and take a fresh look at an old haunt. Join us as we revisit Casey’s Cottage where the Friends of Mexico Point Park will unveil their inaugural art show featuring German artist Severin Bischof this weekend.
You might remember this charming museum at Mexico Point Park on the scenic shores of Lake Ontario. It was in the 1930s when two friends, Dr. William C. Casey and Severin Bischof, joined their resources and talent to restore the former carriage house of the Mexico Point Clubhouse. To help with the transformation, they invited their friends to make decorative wood carvings from Bischof’s exquisite designs. According to Bischof’s son John, “The cottage was a work of love; a place of beauty, friends, companionship and good conversation only.”

Severin Bischof was born in Wenden, Germany on September 9, 1893. He began his career as an apprentice to his father, a master mason, where he worked in various grand cathedrals throughout Europe. He acquired many skills throughout his career, such as restoring religious paintings and glass-cutting, and eventually became a master painter.
The artist arrived in New York on May 4, 1924 and his wife Clara followed five years later. It was in 1928, when Bischof was an art student at Syracuse University, that he made the acquaintance of Dr. Casey through mutual friends. Together, they began renovating the carriage house that would be called “Casey’s Cottage.”
Bischof went on to work for Syracuse Ornamental Company (Syroco), a decorative woodworking company founded in 1890 by immigrant Adolph Holstein. He and his wife Clara had two sons: John, who currently lives in Maine, and Norville, who died in 1982. Bischof himself died just one year later, in May 1983, in Syracuse.
The Friends of Mexico Point Park honors this talented artist with an exhibition of his work, which includes abstracts, florals and landscapes. Step back in time to see his vision for the transformation of the cottage through his watercolors, woodcuts and pastels. Mary Lou and Allen Bjorkman, owners of The Picture Connection in Oswego, graciously helped with the framing of several pieces.
Here is a sample of Bischof's vision:

The exhibit opens with a wine and dessert gala reception at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 9. Admission is $20. The art show continues from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11. Admission is $5. With several major restoration projects at hand, the proceeds from this event will go toward maintenance and repairs at Casey’s Cottage. For more information, call 315/963-7657.
If you would like more information about attractions and events in Oswego County, please be sure to visit our Web site at



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oswego County has something for everyone...

It has been quite a long time since last we visited and we have much to catch up on…

In March, the SUNY Oswego Theatre Department celebrated 150 years of style with “A Fashionable Tea” in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom. Current and former students and professors, along with several community members, were at hand to present an historical fashion show highlighting the most popular trends through the decades.

The live exhibit featured simple, everyday clothing along with elaborate couture. Before the parade of colours, textures, and silhouettes, guests enjoyed a light fare of finger sandwiches, cake and tea.

The idea of an afternoon tea developed into a social event in the early- to mid-19th century. The notion is often credited to Catharine of Braganza although noted British author Jane Austen references the occasion in an unfinished novel in 1804. Other sources suggest that Anne, Duchess of Bedford, established the tradition to shorten the long gap between meals.

Check out these photos, courtesy of Katie Goldstein with the SUNNY Oswego Theatre Department, highlighting the school's sesquicentennial salute to fashion:

Just a few weeks later, we gathered for the second annual Oswego County War of 1812 Symposium to commemorate the bicentennial of the war. Once again, the event welcomed record numbers to the American Foundry in Oswego.

The distinguished line-up of speakers included Dr. John Grodzinski, assistant professor of history at the Royal Military College of Canada; Col. Clayton Nans, USMC (ret.); Dr. Gary Gibson, noted historian and author; Dr. Benjamin Ford, assistant professor in maritime and historical archaeology and preservation at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Darren Bonaparte, chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, creator of the Wampum Chronicles Web site, historical and cultural advisor and esteemed author.

Susan Gibson, Sackets Harbor native; and Beverly Sterling-Affinati and Anne Davis, of the U.S. Daughters of 1812 were also at hand with presentations. Display exhibits included original War of 1812 artifacts by Continental Arms Collectors and Ted Schofield, the International War of 1812 Peace Garden Trail, the U.S. Daughters of the War of 1812, the H. Lee White Marine Museum, and Oswego County Tourism.

The presenters addressed a variety of topics, including military strategies and naval history, civilian life and fashion, and the Native American influence on the war as fighting broke out along the New York-Canadian border.

This region was a major theatre of action during the War of 1812 and there is a tremendous interest in that history. Many local and regional attendees were at hand, while others came from as far away as Buffalo, the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and Canada to hear about the people who lived and fought here during the struggle for control of Lake Ontario and the subsequent preservation of American freedom.

Here are a few pictures from the symposium:

Later, we celebrated 200 years of peace with our Canadian neighbors with the dedication of the Oswego War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden. The garden trail runs more than 600 miles between the U.S. and Canada and highlights sites related to the War of 1812.

We also remembered more than 1,500 souls that were lost with the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago. Marking the centennial of the tragedy, the H. Lee White Marine Museum presented “A Titanic Affair” at the American Foundry in Oswego.

Guests lined up to ‘board’ the gala event which featured a re-creation of the first-class menu served aboard the legendary ship. They enjoyed fine food, mingling with interactive period characters, and dinner music provided by Harpist Marcella Slater. Many joined in a silent auction which featured a plethora of beautiful prizes. Later, they took to the dance floor with Don Goodness and the Do Good Swing Band.

Titanic Historical Society Chaplain George DeMass led a commemoration ceremony which featured a duet with Mistress of Ceremonies Jonel Langenfeld Rial and Jeff Wallace. He presented keepsakes from the great ship’s youngest and last survivor, Millvina Dean, to the two youngest guests and shared his memories of their meeting before her death in 2009. Finally, all joined in a heartfelt rendition of “Nearer My God To Thee,” a 19th century Christian hymn said to be the final song played by the band as the Titanic sank into the ocean. 

The following images, courtesy of Bob Finn, capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience:

Most recently, we brought our families to the Oswego County Fair at the fairgrounds on Hadley Road in Sandy Creek! The young and young-at-heart enjoyed domestic arts and farm animal competitions, explored historical exhibits and sportsman’s displays, and browsed arts and crafts and the latest farm equipment. We enjoyed live family entertainment, the thrill of the midway and the roar of the demolition derby. Finally, on Independence Day, we watched the afternoon parade and a firework show at dusk. 

The pictures below show some of the family fun:

Mark your calendars and check out these upcoming events…

Oswego Harborfest – July 26 – 29; fireworks at dusk on Saturday, July 28.
LYRA 2012 Annual Regatta – July 30 – August 5
Jazz Fest – August 10 – 11
Mid-Summer’s Eve – August 14 – 16
Oswego Speedway International Classic Weekend – August 31 – September 2
Crank It Up! Antique Tractor and Engine Show – September 15 – 16
Lioness Club of Central Square Apple Festival – September 28 - 30
Oswego Pumpkinfest – September 29 – 30
Fort Ontario Civil War Weekend – September 29 – 30
Salmon River Festival and Derby – October 5 - 7

For more Oswego County events and information, visit us online at