Friday, August 1, 2014

Re-telling a Local Legend…

Fort Ontario State Historic Site
Oswego, N.Y.
When last we gathered, walking through the parade grounds of Fort Ontario State Historic Site, we remembered the bicentennial of the Battle of Oswego, which saw the loss of the fort to British forces. Before the battle, American troops were able to hide or remove a store of naval supplies, the real prize of the battle. What transpired next is the making of a true local legend.

A Most Important Mission
Two years in, the War of 1812 had become a shipbuilding race with both British and American forces vying for control of Lake Ontario. Cannon, ropes, rigging, munitions, and anchor cables were saved by American troops in the Battle of Oswego; however, unless these naval materials reached the U.S. Navy shipyard at Sackets Harbor, N.Y., the four ships under construction there would likely not be finished, and the British would win control of Lake Ontario, the main theatre of action in the war.

On May 28, 1814, 19 flat-bottomed bateaux left Oswego Falls, now known as Fulton, rode the Oswego River to the port city and headed out along the lakeshore in the cover of darkness to avoid detection by British patrols. During the night, heavy rain separated one bateau from the party and it was captured by the enemy. Upon learning of the mission from its crew, the British gave chase to the remainder of the convoy.

Meanwhile, the flotilla, which had intended to rendezvous with 130 Oneida Indians at the mouth of the Salmon River, realized it had lost a bateau and feared the mission was compromised. They changed course and pushed on toward Big Sandy Creek instead, where they received confirmation that British boats were indeed in pursuit. Reinforcements were called in to aid the Americans and Oneidas in defense of the convoy and its precious cargo.

The Battle of Big Sandy
At sunrise on May 30, 1814, the British arrived at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek. Despite orders not to enter the waterway for fear of an ambush, the troops rowed up the winding creek, blasting into trees and brush along the way. At 10 a.m., the party rounded a bend and spotted the American flotilla at anchor. The order was given to advance on the banks, where a carefully prepared ambush awaited British troops.

Three hundred American riflemen, Oneida warriors and local militiamen rose from cover, firing rifles and muskets, catching the surprised enemy in the open and pressing forward to surround them. In 15 minutes, the British lost 17 men and had another 47 wounded, some of whom died in the days and weeks following the battle. American casualties were light comparatively; one rifleman and one Oneida Indian were lost. The Battle of Big Sandy was a devastating defeat for the British as they not only lost the battle, but 220 marines and experienced sailors who were either killed or captured.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear (left) traveled up Big Sandy Creek to join in the Henderson Historical Society's bicentennial commemoration of the Battle of Big Sandy and the Great Cable Carry. Pictured with him are Peter Sterbak (middle) of Fort Ontario and Chris Rotunno (right) of the Oswego Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Sandy Creek Town Historian Charlene Cole.
A Local Legend: The Great Cable Carry
After the battle, the Americans returned to their mission. With British naval forces now alerted, the decision was made to complete the journey by land. Most of the cannon and cables were transported by wagon and ox carts to Sackets Harbor; however, the anchor cable for the U.S.S. Superior, weighing 9,600 lbs. and measuring 7” thick and 600’ long, was too large and heavy for the one remaining ox cart.
About 200 men of the 55th New York State Militia Regiment were then ordered to move the cable to Sackets Harbor. With one section on the ox cart and the rest on their shoulders, “The Great Rope” was carried the remaining 20 miles of the expedition.

The serpentine line of cable carriers passed from village to village during the arduous journey. It took two days, with the men resting every mile and civilians pitching in to relieve them. Mats of woven grass were fashioned to protect their shoulders, but still many were left with large bruises. Excitement grew along the route as people turned out to encourage and help the men. Finally, when “The Great Rope” reached Sackets Harbor, the cable carriers were greeted with cheers, patriotic music, whiskey and other refreshments.

Former Fort Ontario State Historic Site and AmeriCorps volunteer Ian Mumpton demonstrates the Great Cable Carry of 1814. The original anchor cable would have been four times as thick and heavy as the one pictured here.
In The End
Just two months later, the U.S.S. Superior and three other ships were completed and the U.S. Navy once again ruled Lake Ontario. If the War of 1812 had continued into the spring of 1815, the Americans would have launched the U.S.S. New Orleans and the “War of Shipbuilders” would have continued to escalate.

The Battle of Big Sandy was one of few decisive American victories of the War of 1812, and the story of “The Great Rope” or “The Great Cable Carry” is a true legend of the North Country. The individual burden of the cable was estimated at 120 pounds, and it is said that some of the men walked with a limp the rest of their lives and many more proudly pointed out their permanent callouses or scars as evidence of their participation in the great event.

And Now…
Bring the whole family to Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 E. Fourth St., Oswego, for the one-and-only performance of “The Great Rope” at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2. Originally written and performed around 1976, Rosemary Nesbitt’s award-winning children’s play tells the story of the huge anchor cable being carried from Big Sandy Creek to Sackets Harbor.

Cast, crew and sponsors of "The Great Rope" hoist a replica of the anchor cable featured in the story. The model was crafted by Mary Kay Stone, production manager of the play. Photo courtesy of Jen Marriner Photography.
Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for teens and free for those aged 12 and younger. Advance tickets can be purchased at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, E. Fourth St., Oswego; H. Lee White Marine Museum, West First Street Pier, Oswego; Arts in the HeART Gallery, S. First St., Fulton; river’s end bookstore, W. Bridge St., Oswego; and Man in the Moon Candies, W. First St., Oswego.

Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to watch the performance on the parade grounds of the fort. In the event of rain, the show will be re-scheduled to Sunday, Aug. 3.

For more information, call Fort Ontario State Historic Site at (315) 343-4711 or visit, or
Here are some previews from play rehearsal:

For more information about Oswego County’s fascinating heritage and events, visit our Web site at


Friday, May 9, 2014

Walking Through History…

"Attack on Fort Oswego, Lake Ontario, North America." May 6, 1814, Noon. By Captain John Hewett, 2nd Battalion Royal Marines. Etched by Robert Havell, London, England, 1 May 1815. From the Collection of the Public Archives of Canada.

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Oswego in the War of 1812. Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear helps us commemorate this historic event with the following passage:

During the War of 1812, Oswego, N.Y. was a crucial forwarding point on the waterborne supply route and for army campaigns along northern frontier. Fort Ontario, crumbling and un-garrisoned since 1804, was situated on a steep bluff on the Oswego River to guard warehouses, shipping and a small village of inhabitants. By 1814, the war had become a shipbuilding race with both sides vying for control of Lake Ontario. In April of that year, the Royal Navy was in command of the lake and Oswego was defenseless.

Lt. Colonel George Mitchell and five companies of the 3rd U.S. and Light Artillery Regiments arrived at the fort on April 30 after spies reported the threat of an imminent attack either on Oswego or Sackets Harbor. They were ordered to guard supplies and stores, send what they could upriver to safety and hide what couldn’t be transported in the woods.

It all started when…
Shortly after sunrise on May 5, lookouts at Fort Ontario spotted seven ships belonging to the Royal Navy. Although Mitchell had completed most of his orders and stood little chance of victory against overwhelming numbers, he and his officers resolved to resist an attack as long as possible. Mitchell would fight with 290 artillerymen armed with muskets, 200 militiamen and 5 light cannon. The British ships carried 1,000 Royal Marines and troops, 1,000 sailors and 222 heavy cannon. Villagers packed up what belongings they could and fled to the countryside as the fort sounded warnings and the militia came in from the sparsely settled countryside.

Around 1:30 p.m., the British reached Oswego. U.S. Navy Captain Melancthon Woolsey organized the militia to dump cannon and munitions in the river to avoid capture. The British moved in to draw American fire and determine the number and location of their cannons. Around 4 p.m., the weather changed and British troops were ordered back on board ship. As the last men returned aboard, a violent storm struck and the ships scrambled to get away from the treacherous shore. The weather cleared during the night and the fleet returned the next morning.

The battle resumes…
On the morning of May 6, three ships returned to the harbor. Despite the disadvantage in numbers, the Americans gave as good as they got. Around 10 a.m., the H.M.S. Prince Regent and Princess Charlotte moved in to cover the troop landings with their massive broadsides. Mitchell gave final orders to his men not to quit their posts until driven away at bayonet point. 

About 11 a.m., 200 seamen, 350 Royal Marines, 58 men of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencible Regiment and 160 Swiss troops of the DeWatteville Regiment approached the shoreline. The naval bombardment that began hours earlier reached a crescendo, with acrid white smoke covering the fort and the sounds of ear-shattering rolling broadsides reaching Kingston, Sackets Harbor, and Syracuse.

As the main landing force grounded east of the fort by Flat Rock, near what is now known as the Fitzgibbons Boilerworks property, men jumped out of boats into cold lake water. When cannon fire from the ships and gunboats slackened as the marines and troops waded ashore, the American militia moved to the edge of the wooded shoreline to pepper them with musketry.

Once on shore, Lt. Colonel Victor Fischer ordered “Forward!” at 11:50 a.m. Outnumbered six to one, Mitchell’s blue line of soldiers and sailors was driven back and slowly retreated up the slope towards the fort, turning and firing as they went. Two British lines with fixed bayonets drove forward, cheering, yelling and firing ragged volleys with many wet and unreliable muskets. Soon, the slope between the fort and present post cemetery was filled with bleeding dead, dying, and wounded men of both sides. 

The Royal Marine column charged into the ditch and up the ramparts, taking withering musket fire from the Americans on top. Other marines swept across the parade grounds, driving Americans before them. When Mitchell received word that the enemy was in the fort, he ordered a retreat and his men reluctantly ran from the ditch with the enemy on their heels, escaping capture by mere seconds. As Mitchell halted south of the fort to re-organize, a bugle sounded and the Union Jack was run up the flagpole; it was 12:06 p.m. In exactly sixteen minutes nearly 40 Americans and 90 British officers and men lost their lives or were wounded.

In the aftermath…
Retreating south, burning bridges to impede the enemy, the Americans fell back to Oswego Falls, now known as Fulton, to join militia gathering there. The British did not follow and busied themselves raising scuttled schooners, salvaging sunken cannon, loading barrels of food, munitions, and other valuable supplies and stores onto their ships. Finally, they left and sailed for Kingston around 4 a.m. on Saturday, May 7.

For the British, the prize was not worth the cost but another victory helped strengthen their position at the bargaining table in treaty negotiations. In the end, neither side won the War of 1812, which was fought for different reasons by both sides, but the young United States earned worldwide respect as a nation; one that would stand up for its rights, even if it meant taking on the most powerful military in the world.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site, located at 1 E. 4th St. in Oswego, is preserved as a memorial to those who served and continue to serve our great nation, in times of war and of peace, from the French and Indian War to the War in Afghanistan. On Saturday, May 10, at 1:30 p.m., Paul Lear will lead a free walking tour of the site of the 1814 Battle of Oswego beginning in the fort’s tunnel entrance. For details, call Lear at (315) 343-4711 or visit

Here are views from the historic site:

For more information about Oswego County’s fascinating heritage and events, visit our Web site at


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Welcome Back, Spring!

Derby Hill Hawk Watching by Derby Hill

As we anticipate the first blossoms of spring, we also welcome back our feathered friends. Visit the Derby Hill Bird Observatory, a sanctuary of the Onondaga Audubon Society, to join this seasonal celebration.

Derby Hill is known as one of the best spring hawk-watch areas in the Northeastern U.S. due to its strategic location on the southeast corner of Great Lake Ontario. At this time of year, it is not unusual to see more than 2,000 raptors in a day. Indeed, the spring of 1995 saw a record number of Red-tailed Hawks sweeping through Derby Hill, (19,531 to be exact), and 4,591 of them were sighted in just one day – April 11.

In the 1950s, Scheider and VanBeurden recognized Derby Hill as a prime vantage point for viewing the spring migration. Then, in May 1997, the National Audubon Society officially designated Derby Hill as an “Important Bird Area.”

Bird movement is largely weather dependent and snow, heavy rain and strong northerly winds can reduce the number of migrating hawks moving through the area. Strong southerly wind-flows create the best conditions; however, some raptor families will fly even in “poor” conditions. Peak flights usually occur during the end of April.

Hawk counting began at Derby Hill in 1954 and daily counts started in 1979. Data are provided to the Hawk Migration Association of North America and used by state and federal agencies. Since then, a number of other significant sightings have been reported as well. They include a Swallow-tailed Kite in April 1976 and again in 2013, a Mississippi Kite in May 1990 and in 2008, and three Gyrfalcons, the latest spotted in February 1994. On October 7, 1979, a record number of mostly Parasitic Jaegers were counted and, in 1993, several spotters witnessed an immature White-tailed Eagle, a very rare sight south of Alaska.

A wide variety of hawks and migrant land birds from the tropics are regularly spotted in substantial numbers at Derby Hill. Other regulars include Bald and Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Eastern Bluebirds, Sandhill Cranes, Common Loons and Ravens, Blue Jays and American Robins. Occasionally, spotters will see arctic species such as the Northern Shrike and Short-eared Owl as they head north to their breeding grounds.

Check out these sightings…

Cooper's Hawk by Steve Kolbe

Red-shouldered Hawk by Steve Kolbe

 …and views from the picturesque birding site:

Derby Hill Bluff Overlook
Sage Creek Marsh at Derby Hill

Derby Hill North Lookout

Derby Hill Counting Board

 Here are some things to remember when visiting Derby Hill:

Ø  Seeing the flights of the birds is very dependent on favorable weather conditions. The largest groups of birds pass over Derby Hill when there is a low-pressure system from the west with a high pressure producing strong southerly winds.

Ø  Don’t expect to see hawks before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Ø  Expect to have great conversation with out-of-state visitors. Derby Hill regularly receives visitors from out of New York State.

Ø  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Birders are a very friendly and enthusiastic bunch, and love to share their extensive knowledge of identification with you.

Ø  If you plan to stay a while, bring a folding chair. Derby Hill has extras, but on a busy day, you take the chance of not getting one.

Ø  Bring lunch, binoculars, sunscreen and a hat or visor.

Ø  Dress warmly and in layers. Derby Hill is located on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario and it can be more windy and chilly than neighboring inland areas.

Additional things to keep in mind when planning your trip to Derby Hill:

Ø  Leashed dogs are the only pets permitted

Ø  No camping, radios, ATVs or bikes are allowed

Ø  Smoking is permitted only when downwind of all other visitors.

Ø  Please remember to carry-in, carry-out your trash.

Come to Derby Hill for the 2014 Bird Festival! From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday May10, enjoy a full day of family fun including live hawk identification, birding and nature walks, kids’ activities, drawings, arts and crafts and a silent auction. Chomppers’ Smokin’ Barbeque will also be at hand with many succulent selections. Admission and parking are free.

The Derby Hill Bird Observatory is located on Sage Creek Road, just off NYS Route 104B in the town of Mexico. The observatory is made of up 90 acres and includes North and South Lookouts as well as Sage Creek Marsh. For more information about Derby Hill or the festival, visit                                                                                                            

For more springtime fun, go to


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!