Sandra Scott Travels: Gigantic Fun Awaits in Nearby Cooperstown

The 10-foot tall Cardiff Giant

The 10-foot tall Cardiff Giant

Last week I asked: Where can you see the Cardiff Giant?

At the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown.

The 10-foot tall Cardiff Giant
The 10-foot tall Cardiff Giant

It has been years since John and I have visited the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown.

One of the first things we saw as we entered the Main Barn was the stone Cardiff Giant.

The Cardiff Giant was one of the most famous hoaxes in American History.

The supposedly petrified man was uncovered in 1869 by workers digging a well in Cardiff, New York.

The 10-foot tall giant was George Hull’s way to add credence to an argument during a Methodist revival meeting about Genesis stating that giants once lived on Earth.

“the museum you can ride.”
“The museum you can ride.”

People arrived by the wagon load to pay 50 cents to see the giant, Hull then sold his interest to a group who put it on display in Syracuse.

It drew such large crowds that P. T. Barnum offered $50,000 for the giant but was turned down so Barnum made a plaster replica putting it on display in NYC claiming it was the real giant.

Archeologists pronounced both were fakes while some Christian fundamentalists claimed they were authentic.

During a court case in 1870 Hull admitted that both were fakes.

It is just one of many interesting things to see in the Main Barn including the new exhibit that focuses on the new era of farming “From Field to Table in New York State.”

The Fenimore Art Museum.
The Fenimore Art Museum.

New since our last visit is the Empire Carousel called “the museum you can ride.”

The beautiful carousel has 25 hand-carved animals found in New York State along with panels that depict famous people such as Susan B. Anthony, Grandma Moses and Teddy Roosevelt.

Murals depict moments in NYS history from the arrival of the Dutch to the construction of Levittown plus highlights of the 11 different regions of the state.

It was fun watching a group of elementary school students decide which animal they wanted to ride then seeing their smiles during the ride.

Patrick, a pharmaceutical historian
Patrick, a pharmaceutical historian

A fourth grade school group was exploring the Historic Village.

We sat with them on the wooden benches in the school house.

The students we unable to answer the teacher’s riddle: “What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, and a bed but never sleeps?”

In the pharmacy, Patrick, a pharmaceutical historian, elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the students as he showed them how pills were made.

The blacksmith and cooper are always fascinating to watch and love to share stories.

Across the street is the other great Cooperstown museum, the Fenimore Art Museum.

A girl in front of the Seneca House
A girl in front of the Seneca House

The Fine Art and Folk Art exhibit are excellent but I was especially interested in the Thaw collection in the new American Indian Wing.

The collection is inclusive of all Native American groups.

On the grounds overlooking Otsego Lake there is an exhibit called “Otsego: A meeting Place.”

There is a 19th century Seneca Log House from the Tonawanda Reservation and a reproduction of a 17th century Mohawk Bark House.

In the day of the McMansion, it is hard to envision a dozen or more people living in the small Seneca House but they did.

The docent explained that several people slept in one bed and that they normally slept sitting up.

Thaw collection
Thaw collection

We were especially fortunate because they were celebrating Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Culture with storytellers and music/dance presentations on their new hillside amphitheater.

There were also lacrosse and canoe building demonstrations along with native art.

Two great museums to put on your “must-do” itinerary.

Trivia Tease™:  Where can you take a speed boat ride on the St. Lawrence?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!