Two hundred years ago a small band of men set out from Schenectady
on a journey that would change their world, and ours. That they
left from this place was no fluke, no incidental location.
Schenectady at that time was the western most port through which
all goods and travelers set forth on their journeys into the vast
interior of the fledgling nation. The breathtaking beauty and
abundant wildlife of the great flats had brought the enterprising
Dutch to the Mohawk River 130 years before. The river proved a
valuable resource, and a shining pathway west.
In 1792, the intrepid sojourners were on a surveying trip
to chart the treacherous riffs and shoals and falls that inhibited
free navigation along the shallow and turbulent Mohawk River. The
locks, dams and canals the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company
would build by 1803 would change the national transportation system
forever. It heralded the great canal era of the 19th Century.
For 80 years (1740-1820) Schenectady men built the river
batteaux which plied the Mohawk, ferrying goods, troops, supplies
and settlers. They were the forefathers of the men and women who
produced locomotives and electricity, ideas and ingenuity to serve
our nation's needs and dreams for the next two centuries.
The presentation of the Schenectady Batteau is the
first major interpretive exhibit of the Schenectady Urban Cultural
Park. The City of Schenectady is pleased to join with the New York
State Museum and the Schenectady Museum and Planetarium as partners
for this program. As with any successful endeavor, many people have
joined in this presentation. The SUCP dedicates the Schenectady
Batteau exhibit to the many visionary individuals and
organizations who have dreamed, planned and worked to create this
window into our past. Through it we all can witness the drive and
determination which continues to this day.
Urban Cultural Park Coordinator
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