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Is I Love NY Familiar with Your Site (Days 2and 3)

Mohawk Country, Inc.

In this post, I complete the review of the familiarization tour in Central New York by I Love NY in August. The background information on the participating tour operators and the first day of the three day tour was presented in Is I Love NY Familiar with your Historic Site. At the conclusion of the post, I noted three history topics touched upon in the tour:

1. The Palatine migration to America and the Mohawk Valley
2. The American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley
3. The Erie Canal

and asked “Let’s see what other sites were included in the remaining two days of the tour” related to these topics. These remaining days shed light on how if at all I LoveNY pulls all the sites together.

Monday Aug. 28th: Oneida & Chenango Counties

8:30-9:30am: Breakfast presentation with the DoubleTree Hotel Utica team (2nd floor ballroom)

9:45am SHARP: Depart DoubleTree Hotel Utica

Wolf Mountain Nature Center – Smyrna, NY (Chenango County): Will Pryor, Founder & Head Animal Curator will lead a walking tour (approx. 1 mile) to meet the animals, learn about how the center formed & purpose in having a wolf sanctuary. A non-profit organization situated on 60+ acres of woods, fields, and ponds in the rolling hills of Chenango County in upstate NY. Educated, dedicated volunteers will introduce animals, teach about their diets, habitats, and share personal stories about the center’s animals.

12:30pm (approx.): Northeast Classic Car Museum – Norwich, NY (LUNCH) (Chenango County): Tour and enjoy lunch in this educational facility that preserves, interprets and exhibits vehicles related to the evolution of transportation, with particular emphasis on the role of the automobile and its impact on American culture.

Destination Group Travel Show at Turning Stone Resort & Casino – Verona, NY (Oneida County):

The Destinations Group Travel Show is an intimate, free-flowing networking opportunity bringing US tourism suppliers (hotels, attractions, destinations, tours, etc.) to you in a free-flowing tradeshow atmosphere, allowing you to gather new ideas and inspiration when creating unique itineraries and planning travel destinations in New York and beyond!

Don’t forget your business cards!!

Turning Stone Presentation and site inspections by the Turning Stone Casino team.

Destination Group Travel Show Networking & Dinner Reception and enjoy the Casino!

9:30pm (approx.): Program at Turning Stone Casino ends

A little time to enjoy the Casino on your own

10:30pm SHARP: Bus will depart for hotel

11:00pm (approx.): Arrive to DoubleTree Hotel Utica

Note – As previously reported, in January 2016, I participated in a workshop called by the Oneida Nation to discuss funding for a possible documentary on the Oneida emphasizing their participation on the American side in the American Revolution.  At my suggestion NPS staff from the Fort Stanwix site in Rome who also manage the NYSOPRHP site for the Battle of Oriskany were invited and did attend. The Oneida maintain a cultural center as part of the Turning Stone complex. It does not appear from the description that the Oneida heritage was part of this tour.

In another post, New York State Indian Paths through History,  I reported on the challenge in creating an itinerary encompassing all the Haudenosaunee peoples. This can be considered a fourth history topic of the Mohawk Valley.

Tuesday Aug. 29th: Oneida & Montgomery Counties

Today is check-out day! Please bring your luggage to the front desk to be stored (unless you are staying Tuesday night).

Breakfast buffet at DoubleTree Hotel Utica is available starting at 6:30am (2nd Floor Ballroom)

8:45am SHARP: Depart DoubleTree Hotel Utica

Liberty Fresh Market/Taste NY & Erie Canal Lock E13 – Fultonville, NY (Montgomery County): Lock E13: Taste NY representative will give an overview of the facility and how to coordinate groups to stop there. History and overview of the Erie Canal; past, present and future.

[Note – In the Mohawk Valley Teacherhostel/Historyhostel we did not stop at this lock. We did spend time at the NYSOPRHP canal site at Schoharie Crossing.]

Arkell Museum – Canajoharie, NY (Montgomery County): Museum tour and hands-on activity. The Arkell Museum celebrates the history and culture of New York’s Mohawk Valley and America itself with works by legendary 19th- and 20th-century painters alongside advertising art for iconic Beech-Nut products that were made in the area. The museum features more than 350 paintings and sculptures.

[Note – In the Mohawk Valley Teacherhostel/Historyhostel we did stop here.]

Fort Plain Museum – Fort Plain, NY (Montgomery County): Abbreviated tour and Mohawk Country discussion. Established by the Mohawk Indians and settled by soldiers during the American Revolution, the village of Fort Plain contains fascinating and significant history captured at the museum. Visitors can share common ground with Gen. George Washington, who visited the site in 1783.

[Note – In the Mohawk Valley Teacherhostel/Historyhostel we did stop here. For three years now the Museum has held an American Revolution conference including talks and bus tours.]

1:30pm (approx.): Saranac Brewery – Utica, NY – (LUNCH) (Oneida County): Tour of the Brewery and lunch, including Utica specialties. Founded in 1888 by German-born immigrant Francis Xavier Matt (FX), the Matt Brewing Company is one of the few remaining great American regional breweries. The brewery hosts behind-the-scenes tours year-round and are home to the Tavern, where patrons can enjoy a pint and socialize.

Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute – Utica, NY (Oneida County): Tour the main building, permanent collection and rotating exhibit: Roaring into the Future: New York 1925-1935. A renowned art collection, fascinating exhibitions and educational programs for all ages. MWPAI has two buildings – one designed by Philip Johnson and another that is Fountain Elms, an 1850 Italian Revival mansion.

4:00pm (approx.): DoubleTree Hotel Utica – Utica, NY: (FAM TOUR ENDS)

Thank you for your time and we look forward to working with you and your clients in…


There are people in the Mohawk Valley interested in promoting the history and heritage of the region. At approximately the same time as the familiarization tour the following press release was issued.

Guy Park Manor Restoration Group Forms

A meeting of concerned Amsterdam residents and local historians was held this past Wednesday evening to discuss the rehabilitation and restoration of Guy Park Manor said the committee’s spokesperson Norm Bollen [also of Fort Plain Museum, one of the stops on the tour]. “Guy Park Manor, built is 1766, is Amsterdam’s oldest building”, said Bollen. It deserves to be restored and opened once again to the public as a place to explore our colonial history and promote heritage tourism in our city.

The initiative, spearheaded by the newly formed Mohawk Country, Inc. was attended by trustees of the Historic Amsterdam League, the Amsterdam Daughters of the American Revolution and the Old Fort Johnson Historic Landmark.

 “Heritage tourism is a 5 billion dollar industry in New York”, said Bollen and Montgomery County has more colonial American and Native American heritage sites than anywhere in the upstate New York area. Reopening Guy Park Manor as a heritage tourist attraction will help shape the City of Amsterdam and Montgomery County into a great American Heritage destination. A well thought out destination tourism program is a vital component to any economic development plan. Tourism is your “window” on the area for others to look in on your community and see what your community has to offer.

 Mohawk Country, Inc. represents colonial era historic attractions throughout Montgomery County. Their goal is to promote, protect and preserve the counties historic attractions, and in the process create a new tourism model for Montgomery County. Since the demise of the [state-sponsored] Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission there has been no agency working to preserve and promote our heritage.

The committee plans to reach out to local politicians for support and petition the state to work with the organization in reopening the historic site to the public. Guy Park Manor was originally operated by New York State Parks & Recreation but was closed over 20 years ago. Reopening the site as a tourist attraction would be good for the city and create a companion attraction to the new Pedestrian Bridge.

For more information on the Mohawk Country initiative email

The press release touches on many of the issues in previous posts over the years. It identifies a significant problem and the lack of state leadership. No one in I Love NY has history expertise and it is not the job of tourist people to have such knowledge. On the hand, it is I Love NY’s responsibility working through the county TPA and/or through the consultants it hires to reach out to such expertise. This familiarization tour was a rapid “everything including the kitchen sink” smorgasbord of sites and not a thematically-honed tour. It was not specifically intended to highlight the history heritage of the Mohawk Valley. When will it?

Is I LoveNY Familiar with Your Site?

Historic Fort Herkimer Church (Trekking Along the Erie Canal)

Sunday, August 27 – Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In an earlier post Irene to Irma: Six Years a Blogger, I referred to a Familiarization Tour in the Mohawk Valley in August six years after the Teacherhostel/Historyhostel that began my blogging career.  Back in March I wrote about some familiarization tours offered by I LoveNY immediately prior to the annual tourism convention held in Manhattan. In this post, I would to explain in more detail how a familiarization tour works and see what it means for the history community and your site.

The Central New York Familiarization tour is consistent with the I LoveNY terminology which ignores the cachet of the Mohawk Valley by making the name disappear. I wonder how many tour operators tout the splendor of the Central New York as a destination compared to the Mohawk Valley. But then again I am not an expert and I LoveNY is so there must be value in the term Central NY.

The familiarization tour consisted of 9 tour operators and 12 people. The customer base of the tour operators consists of adults, seniors, students /school/youth, international, corporate and convention. Some include shopping trips, casino trips, and reunions with some variation among individual organizations. A summary of the participants is provided below.

BK Charter Inc.   MD

We specialize in educational tours, convention shuttle service, federal and commercial contracts, corporate travel, airport transfers, vanpools, daily excursions, and any occasion.

Custom Tours & More VT

Our main business is receptive work into Vermont & the Northeast. Due to quality and uniqueness of service, outbound tours are now increasing. Our small firm is “HANDS-ON!” Customizations with no pre-packaging differentiate us from others.

Horizon Club Tours Buffalo

Horizon Club Tours is a full-service group travel and transportation management company offering customized and expanded services. We offer a diverse range of travel options designed to connect our guests with unique destinations and cultures, delivering experiences that are absolutely extraordinary. With our shared enjoyment for travel and sense of adventure, individuals, families and small to large groups rely on us to deliver a seamless travel experience that exceeds their expectations. Based in Buffalo, New York, we service all of Western and Central New York State, including inbound and outbound tours for Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Niagara Falls, and Southern Ontario.

Joe’s Personalized Travel Service Brooklyn

Creates and customizes Single-day and multi-day motorcoach trips for adults and seniors.

Landmark Tour and Cruises MA

Looking for hotels outside of NYC for an 80% senior customer clientele. Travels to Niagara Falls, Ontario (not NY), New York City, Finger Lakes, Saratoga, Long Island (winery tour), Catskills, Hudson Valley, and Cooperstown.  Packages include cultural (including history?), ecotours, events (festivals, parades), fall foliage, family, gaming, garden/floral, mystery, national parks.

Niagara Bound Tours Canada

Founded by a fifth-generation Canadian descendant of a fugitive slave from Kentucky with a personal interest in the history of fugitive slaves who came to Canada, in particular the Niagara area. The goal is to provide clients with a unique insight into the migration of Afro-Americans as they escaped slavery in the mid-19th century and settled in Southern Ontario, Canada. We create experiences that capture the essence of what was faced by those forced to flee the slave states, while also giving the historical perspective where local stories are told. The success of this Niagara Bound Tour is based upon our exemplary knowledge of the time period as it relates to the region, as well as tour content and customer service.

Northeast Unlimited Tours Inc. MA (Cancelled)

Solid Gold Travelers PA

Types of Tours: Cultural, History, General Sightseeing, Culinary, Special Events/Fairs/Festivals, Maritime, Cruises/Whale Watches, Religious Heritage/History, Soft Adventure, Amusement Parks, Casinos, Rail, Fall Foliage


Her customer base is seniors and the only New York destination at present is the city. She prefers mystery tours, performing arts, and out of the ordinary.

I can’t speak for how typical this grouping is for familiarization tours. There also can be more thematically-oriented tours rather than geographical ones. As one examines the itinerary for this tour, keep in mind that the tour is not a history-based one but may include history-related sites within the geographic area covered. In this case, the area is the counties of Chenango, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, and Oneida. In presenting the details of the tour, I omitted contact information, websites, and names that were provided in the package as well as social media references. The information combines material from two handouts for the tour.

Sunday Aug. 27th: Herkimer, Oneida, & Madison Counties

10:30-11:15am: Meet our FAM Tour team in the DoubleTree Hotel Utica lobby to register

11:30am SHARP: Depart DoubleTree Hotel Utica – Utica, NY (Oneida County):
Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks and the heart of Utica, NY, indulge in the elegance of the early 20th century while relishing the modern comforts of today.

20 minutes travel (15 miles)

12:00pm (approx.): Waterfront Grille – Herkimer, NY (LUNCH) (Herkimer County): Lunch will take place in the 1921 restored Historic Freight Terminal & museum featuring artifacts from the original Erie Canal. [Note – In the Teacherhostel, we ate here as well.]

30 minutes: Buffet lunch will take place in the 1921 restored Historic Freight Terminal
20 minutes: walk around museum featuring artifacts from the original Erie Canal.
10 minutes: bathroom and walk to Cruise. LEAVE TIME FOR BATHROOM

1:00-2:00 Erie Canal Cruises – Herkimer, NY (Herkimer County): Narrated cruise on the Lil Diamond to the Historic Fort Herkimer Church. Located in the Mohawk Valley, Erie Canal Cruises tour boats Lil’ Diamond II and Lil’ Diamond III are docked at Gems Along the Mohawk, the Official Mohawk Valley Visitor Center. See one of the Lil’ Diamond vessels for a fun and historically fascinating cruise, back to a time when the canal was just a vision; relax and enjoy.
Group is walking from Waterfront Grille to Erie Canal Cruises
Narrated cruise to the Historic Fort Herkimer Church and back– about 35 minutes

Indian Castle Church (

[Note – This is a little shorter than the standard tourist cruise. In the Teacherhostel we took the 90 minute cruise and stopped at the Church during the land portion. Before the next stop we also stopped at Indian Castle Church in Little Falls, part of the story of William Johnson and the Mohawks. Neither site is listed in the Path through History.]

Group will walk to where they were dropped off.

15 minutes travel (11 miles)

2:30-3:30 Herkimer Home State Historic Site – Herkimer, NY (Herkimer County): Historic narrated tour of General Herkimer’s 1762 mansion. Herkimer Home State Historic Site is a historic house museum in Herkimer County, NY. The site offers a picnic area, scenic views, a visitor center, tours, re-enactments, gardens, and hiking.

[Note – We missed this site in the Teacherhostel since the focus in the one week program was in Schenectady, Fulton, and Montgomery. We went to the other sites in Herkimer because I like to end the program with a cruise if possible. I scouted this site along with others for a follow-up program in Herkimer and Oneida but never was able to do it.]

Upon arrival at Herkimer Home, costumed docents will split the group:
Historic narrated tour of General Herkimer’s 1762 mansion (15-20 minutes)
There should be time for them to visit the museum and maybe even the cemetery–great historical site presenting what General Nicholas Herkimer did to help win the American Revolution in 1777 and how people lived in the 1700’s. This is a state Historic park and beautiful property located high above the Mohawk River. (15-20 minutes) Bathroom before departure – will be on the road for 1 hour. HAVE TO LEAVE HERE ON TIME!

1 hour travel (60 miles)

4:45-5:30 Wild Animal Park – Chittenango, NY (Madison County): A Keeper-talk through the park and feed the giraffe. The Wild Animal Park is a zoo that provides a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about a variety of animals. With a wide range of domestic and exotics animals from all over the world, it’s a great place for adventure, learning, and hours of family fun.
 Pull in to the main parking lot in front of the building, drop group and park.
Keeper talk, small feed cup and carrot stick to feed giraffe HAVE TO LEAVE HERE ON TIME!

30 minutes travel (16 miles)

6:00-6:45 The Critz Farms Brewing and Cider Company – Cazenovia, NY (Madison County): Hard cider and beer tasting with cheese & crackers followed by a sunset tour of the farm. Critz Farms specializes in the production of handcrafted hard ciders and farm brewed beers made in small batches from ingredients grown on the farm. A developing beer portfolio includes four to six styles that is consistently offered as well as unique small batches of experimental brews.

Pull in the main driveway (near the red barn) and unload in the first parking area at the side
of the blue building. Park in the back lot.
Hard cider and beer tasting with cheese & crackers followed by a sunset tour, if time allows.

35 minutes travel (23 miles)

7:30pm (approx.): Good Nature Farm Brewery & Tap Room – Hamilton, NY (DINNER) (Madison County): Tour one of New York State’s first farm breweries and enjoy dinner and a brew at the on-site restaurant. Good Nature, which is Madison County’s first brewery in 200 years, collaborates with local farmers, artists, & small businesses to celebrate all the region has to offer.

Drop off in front of building, park in rear (follow signs)

Tour one of New York State’s first farm breweries and enjoy dinner and a brew at their on-site restaurant.
Welcome, enjoy buffet dinner, tour the facility

40 minutes travel (30 miles)

9:30pm (approx.): Arrive to the DoubleTree Hotel Utica

This stop concluded Day 1 of the Central NY Familiarization Tour. While there was some history related stops, it is difficult to tell how much Mohawk Valley history might have been discussed during the course of the day. Themes which could have been highlighted included

1. The Palatines – General Herkimer was a Palatine and the settlement of these Germans in the Mohawk Valley is one storyline which could be told just as the Dutch in the Hudson Valley were in another familiarization tour. Let’s see what other Palatine sites were included in the remaining two days of the tour.

2. The American Revolution – General Herkimer participated in and was shot in the Battle of Oriskany. The fighting there and at Fort Stanwix in Rome stemmed the Burgoyne’s master plan to divide New York and the colonies with a western flank maneuver. Benedict Arnold was involved. The Oneida chose to support the Americans and fought against other Haudenosaunee who supported the British. In short there was a lot to present to tour operators interesting in promoting the Mohawk Valley experience. How much was presented at the stop at his house in Little Falls cannot be determined from this schedule. Let’s see if any of these topics were pursed in the remaining two days of the tour.

3. The Erie Canal – We have now begun the bicentennial of the building of the Erie Canal. As part of that effort, the bi-annual world canal conference was held in Syracuse in September. I LoveNY promoted that conference. Did it promote the Erie Canal as part of the familiarization tour? Let’s see what other canal sites were included in the remaining two days of the tour.

In Day 1 one the tour one glimpses the whirlwind experience of keeping to schedule at multiple sites linked only by geographical proximity. The remaining days will shed light on how if at all I LoveNY pulls all the sites together.