June 2, 2013

Locals enjoy free access to local museums


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Museum-goers took advantage of the annual Museum Days on Saturday with free access to the wealth of historical information at local museums.

Ava Jimemez of Chazy said she has lived in the area for a while but doesn’t know too much about the local history.

She recently visited the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in AuSable Chasm and said she plans on visiting many of the North Country’s museums.

Belinda Buckhart of Plattsburgh brought her grandson, Jordan Oliver, 6, to the War of 1812 Museum.

This was their third year attending Museum Days.

“He learns a little more every year,” Buckhart said.

By about 3 p.m., 213 people had visited Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and Kids’ Station.

Several families chose to spend the day museum-hopping with their children.

Jesse LaVarnway and Riley Rock of Plattsburgh brought their son, Aden LaVarnway, 8, to the War of 1812 Museum and the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and Kids’ Station.

LaVarnway said he and Rock agree that it’s important that their son learn about the history of the area.

Jesse is a history enthusiast. He and Rock have toured Tahawus, an abandoned mining town near Newcomb, N.Y.

“We do some urban exploration — some historical sites,” Rock said.

The Transportation Museum features a 1931 America LaFrance Fire Truck. The fire truck display was of special interest to Aden, his father said.

“They had buckets of water for the first one (truck) because they didn’t invent the hose (yet),” Aden said.

His favorite exhibit, though, was the lego robots, he said.

Like Aden, David Griffin, had visited local museums during Museum Days on other years.

“I learned where the battles zones were” at the War of 1812 Museum, Griffin said. “The coolest thing about that place was seeing a cannon fire.”

Volunteers were intermittently firing an unloaded cannon for museum-goers on the lawn of the War of 1812 museum.

“At the other building over there, me and my sister were pretending to drive an airplane. It was awesome,” Griffin said, as he colored a picture at the Kids’ Station inside the Pre-War Car building.

“Here, I’ve been learning (about) a lot of new cars I’ve never seen before,” Griffin said.

Griffin’s mother, Pamela Griffin, of Churubusco, said her son had been leaning about local history in school, and going to Museum Days was a good activity to supplement that part of his education.

“We talk about that these things actually happened; how different it was back then,” Pamela said.

David learned that if he had lived in the early 1800s, he would likely be an apprentice rather than a student, his mother said.

“You had a lot of work,” David said of children living in those days.

Wayne Williams, who grew up on Sailly Avenue in Plattsburgh, said he values historical information about the area in which he was raised.

“Plattsburgh had a lot of things that people have forgotten about that we just don’t see anymore,” he said, referring to old photographs of Margaret Street in the City of Plattsburgh and what is now the Plattsburgh Amtrak Station.

“Can you imagine being in Plattsburgh when trolleys were going down the streets?” Williams said.

Adults and children alike seemed to be enjoying themselves.

“It’s really fun here,” David said.

Museum Days, with free admission at 16 area museums and galleries, runs today 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, including a list of participating museums, visit

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