New York boating museum seeks new location

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The Finger Lakes Boating Museum, which consists of more than 100 boats built in New York’s Finger Lakes region during the last century, is moving to a temporary storage facility while it looks for a new home.

The museum’s collection stays in storage for most of the year and is brought out once a year for its summer boating festival, according to The Corning (N.Y.) Leader. The museum also offers occasional boatbuilding and restoration programs and displays a few of its boats at Cayuga Lake State Park.

But what the non-profit organization really wants is a large, permanent home — a place that would allow the entire boat collection to be displayed, along with artifacts and exhibits that tell the history of boating in the Finger Lakes, museum vice president Ed Wightman told The Corning Leader.

The museum lost its rent-free storage building in Geneva, prompting Mercury Aircraft to step up and offer one of its vacant buildings in Hammondsport, N.Y.

Boating in the Finger Lakes goes back to when steamboats chugged up and down the lakes, carrying passengers and goods in the days before railroads and roads connected the towns there.

Later, after the focus shifted to fishing and recreation, there were four major boatbuilders in the Finger Lakes — Penn Yan, Thompson, Morehouse and Skaneateles — and about three dozen smaller boat companies.

The heyday was between the 1930s and 1960s, Wightman said, but all of the boat companies are gone today except for a few people making them on a small scale.

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