Heritage Region to Coordinate Fall Paddle to Aid Wyalusing Museum

Wyalusing Valley Museum director Morgan Clinton (left) and EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin are working together on a Fall Heritage Paddle on the Susquehanna River that will benefit the museum.

The Endless Mountains Heritage Region, in association with the Wyalusing Valley Museum Association and Endless Mountain Outfitters, will conduct a Fall Heritage Paddle on the Susquehanna River on Saturday, Oct. 10. The safe-distancing recreational event will serve as a fundraiser for the museum and an opportunity to learn about the history of Wyalusing when the Susquehanna River was its driving economic force.

There’s a lot of history involved with this adventure,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin, “including railroads, the canal, Native Americans, and Sullivan’s March.”

The idea came about when organizers of the annual Wyalusing Wine Festival had to cancel the event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Festival is the museum’s biggest fundraiser each year. In addition to getting people out to enjoy the natural beauty of the Susquehanna at the beginning of fall foliage season, Wyalusing Valley Museum director Morgan Clinton looks forward to pointing out iconic and historic sites along the river from the area of Standing Stone to EMO’s headquarters in Sugar Run, which is situated across the river from the site of the former Moravian Indian village of Friedenshutten.

We want to make this more about the museum, which is an incredible heritage partner,” Chamberlin remarked. “It’s so valuable to the community.”

With so many events on this year’s calendar canceled over concerns of people congregating too closely in large numbers, the Fall Heritage Paddle was seen as a comfortable way to get people together for a meaningful experience. Its success could pave the way for other outdoor adventures in support of additional EMHR grant recipients and partner agencies. The EMHR will work with Keith Brown of EMO, who is also the organization’s water trail branch manager for Bradford County, to coordinate the day trip.

Tickets will be discounted for early-bird registrants through Friday, Sept. 18 at $65 per person and $90 with kayak rental. After that, the costs are $80 and $110, respectively. Participants will meet at EMO for a 9 am briefing and shuttle ride up river to set in at French Azilum. All ticket holders will be treated to a catered dinner by Old School BBQ at the end of the paddle and beverage tasting with Deep Roots Hard Cider, as well as a local history presentation by Clinton at EMO.

The approximate eight-hour event will include four to five hours of paddling and a late morning stop near Homet’s Ferry for which participants should bring a snack or sacked lunch. Safe distancing and other current CDC guidelines will be followed at all times, as will EMO’s safety rules. Registration will be handled by the EMHR via www.emheritage.org or its Facebook page and is limited to 50 adults. The deadline for registration is Friday, Oct. 2.

Historical societies and museums parallel the core mission of the EMHR, which is preserving, interpreting and enhancing the character of the Endless Mountains region, which includes Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties. The EMHR serves as the official steward of the North Branch Susquehanna Water Trail, which is part of the National Parks system.

Chamberlin found recent reports suggesting that potentially a third of the museums across the nation will not survive the shutdowns and restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 health crisis alarming. “That’s a scary thought that people could lose out on so much history,” he stated. “That inspired us to think to the future how we could do benefits to help our heritage partners.” The Fall Heritage Paddle will also provide an opportunity for participants to learn more about the EMHR and how it helps organizations like French Azilum, Inc., where participants will get a first-hand look at a new launch and landing site that was partially funded by the EMHR.

The Wyalusing Valley Museum was already in transition before the health crisis began, renovating and making the best use of a pair of back-to-back buildings that represent its new footprint in downtown Wyalusing. Currently, exhibits are accessible in the former Masonic Lodge at 158 Church Street on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 4 pm by calling 570-746-3979. Guests can also be accommodated during the week by calling the same number at least three days in advance.

A building at 25 Main Street that began its history as a hardware store in the 1890s will become the museum’s primary exhibit space, at which time the first floor of the Masonic Lodge can be used for workshops and other activities. The second floor of the old lodge is full of historical reference materials and will continue to serve as the museum’s research center.

Proceeds from the paddle will help to offset the loss of funds from the cancellation of wine festival, which would have been held in September. According to Clinton, the wine festival brings as much as $6,000 per year into the museum for general operating instructions.

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