Here is a historic site which is well worth a stop even though, I have to agree, it is in need of some sprucing up. The place is underfunded and the New York State economy is not in any condition to change that any time soon. This is unfortunate because if you are interested in one of the most important factors in the development of New York State, you will want to put this on your list of places to visit. At this spot, the first shovelful of dirt was turned to begin the construction of the Erie Canal.
There were three highlights to our visit: a ride in a horse-drawn wagon (great for kids and those of us whose inner child is alive and well); the fascinating demonstration and talk by a working blacksmith; and seeing what the original Erie Canal actually looked like. It is no wonder it was called "Clinton's Ditch" because that is really what it is, a giant ditch that changed the Empire State forever.
They have an original barge on site parked next to an original section of towpath. This is the only place I know of where you can see, in one place, both the original canal (opened 1825) and the second version, an enlargement (1840's - 50's I believe). They have moved some original homes and a schoolhouse on site to create the semblance of a period village. They also have a former cheese factory on site which I found intriguing for its explanation of the cheese-making process, but disappointing because no cheese is sold there! A large barn contains some interesting horse-drawn vehicles and other farm machinery.
We paid the senior admission rate ($5 apiece) which is as advertised on their website. If it's hot and you need a cool breeze in your face, go ahead and pay for the train ride at an extra cost. Other than that, I don't think it's worth it for adults - there isn't much to see on this railroad route. The only exception I would make is if you have young ones - they will love riding the train with or without scenery; kids 5 and under ride the train free.
Would that someone had some money to pour into this place, because it needs a lift and deserves better than what it has right now. Still, if you love history you will want to check this out. It's worth it to sit in the shade on the 'village green' and sing along with the resident historian/musician, "I've got a mule, her name is Sal..."
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.