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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Backtracking...the Glenn Curtiss Museum

Now we're turning the calendar back a few days, so I can tell you about our visit to the Glann Curtiss Museum, that we visited last Tuesday. This was when we were still in The Finger Lakes region of New York, camping on beautiful Keuka Lake.

The first hurdle in entering the museum was to try to get by the vicious guard dogs... But we managed to slip past without incident.

And once inside... What an incredible museum! I must admit, I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy spending hours looking at airplanes and engines, but there was definitely something here for everyone. In fact, I kept thinking of our 12 grandchildren from ages one to sixteen, and every single one  of them would be interested, or even fascinated, with something in this museum.

Glenn Curtiss (I'll use the initials GC for brevity) was an absolute mechanical genius who lived in Hammondsport, N. Y. and was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers and Alexander Graham Bell. In fact, he and the Wright Brothers were bitter competitors for domination of aviation development. He was especially gifted in the invention and production of early engines, mostly for the first motorcycles and airplanes. He first developed the "V" engines used in autos and radial engines for airplanes.

Here's a motorcycle with a V8 engine that GC invented, and with it he set the land speed record at 137 mph.

And this is a radial airplane engine he developed.

GC also invented seaplanes and was the Father of Naval Aviation (which is close to my heart, since my Dad was a Naval aviator):

. . . And he invented the first luxury travel trailer that also included the first fifth-wheel hitch:

GC was an international hero and won MANY competitions around the globe in the field of aviation, much to the chagrin of the Wright Brothers. If you're interested in all the things  he did (MANY more than I can describe here!), Google him and you'll find a complex, brilliant and fascinating man. The museum also has a website. But better yet, if you're anywhere near upstate New York, plan a day to wander the museum.

Some of the other exhibits in the museum (non-Glenn Curtiss-related) were a series of models...from intricate doll houses and scenes of early days in America, to an amazing collection of tiny model airplanes.

Here  are a couple of views of the model of a "Soddy," a log cabin with a sod roof which was home for many pioneers. This is just one of perhaps 30 detailed models on display:

And an airplane collection that would keep our grandsons transfixed for hours...

There was a collection of early household appliances, showing the evolution of washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and irons.

And here's something you don't often see, though it was once a very popular art form. Can you tell what it is?

This wreath was made completely with human hair. Young women used to collect locks of hair from their friends and form them into intricate flowers and designs. Here's a close-up:

Another temporary exhibit I greatly enjoyed was a display of the work of the Embroiderers' Guild of Corning, N.Y. Just a few examples of the many gorgeous samplers on display:

There was also an interactive play area for young children, and a restoration area where volunteers carefully and skillfully restore acquisitions to the museum's collections...and they keep the door open so visitors can come in and watch them and ask questions.

All in all we felt this was probably the best museum for general interest that we've ever seen (and we've seen quite a few!). We visited the Smithsonian Museums in D.C with our grown children a few months ago when we were in Washington, D.C. for my fathers burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Though I love our national museums, the crowds, the noise and the great walking distances make each visit somewhat of a marathon. This little local museum in Hammondsport, New York is amazingly accessible and fascinating, well maintained and clearly interpreted. We absolutely loved it, and we hope you'll have a chance to visiti it someday, as well.

After our museum trip, we spent a little time in the historic, picturesque town of Hmmondsport. Our waitress at the hotel restaurant, Angela, told us about several places to visit that only the locals know. Your secrets are safe with us, Angela!

And, as I usually do, I found "my" kind of shop to browse in. This fiber store leaned toward the art of rug hooking and had many wonderful examples,on display among all the fibers for sale.

Whew! So now I'm caught up. That's what I get for taking a few days off from blogging! Today we're planning to drive into the Ohio Amish country, so we'll have lots more to share with you soon. 

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