Sunday, September 2, 2012
Should you find yourself in Elmira, NY...
Our 'week' away began with taking our daughter back to college in upstate NY, a weekday trip, and from there it was a simple mission of maximizing where we were after the drop off. For me the cool thing is that I gathered a few weeks' worth of shots for this blog, which will allow me to put the whole camera, lenses, filters and so on into the shop for a thorough cleaning. (I've had spots for years which I haven't been able to eradicate.)
Many fine points to the trip, but the biggest point to write about is the Chemung Valley History Museum, in Elmira. We were using Ithaca as a base for our day trips, and I pointed us to Elmira more or less on a lark. I saw that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was buried there, that there was a museum, and it seemed like a pretty good use of slack time. (Kind of like that point in the show where you just pen "drum solo" in.) But wow: what a pleasant surprise this was. The permanent exhibit section on Elmira's history -- the people, the industrial history, and so on -- was phenomenal. The humanity was like a flood: the photos of immigrants and preachers and textile workers and so on. (I've ordered high res jpegs of a couple photos, and they will be on our walls.) And the chaise which Twain reclined on... Very cool.
There were also some temporary exhibits. One focused on a 1972 flood (40th anniversary!) and its impact on the town at the time. The woman who took our admission bucks wouldn't really be called a docent, but as there were no other visitors at the time, she gave us kind of a tour, and told us about her life in Elmira and the flood (she is in her 80's, phenomenally alert, and engaging). The 1972 flood was brief but devastating. It lasted only a couple days, but it was kind of a tipping point for the area we'd seen downtown: the flood damage and the introduction of a mall was kind of a death knell for the block by the museum. A lot of other buildings and blocks were razed. And while Corning had the advantage of more vibrant industries, Elmira doesn't seem to have had the same advantages.
I'll be posting some Elmira shots in the weeks to come. But if you're near there, stop into the museum. And "Twain" is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, and they make it very easy to find his grave site.
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(DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. My company does polling. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.)