"Demonstration Edition" of the "Niagara Historic Trail" Update 2008-2009 Announced

 The North Tonawanda History Museum, in cooperation with the County of Niagara and the Association of Municipal Historians of Niagara County and other County historians, the Historical Society of North German Settlements in Western New York and the Niagara County Historical Society, has produced a "Demonstration Edition" of "Niagara Historic Trail:  A self-guided historic tour of Niagara County."  It is an update of the original 1975 County project and the 1991 update by the County.

The 166-page spiral bound book (designed for use in driving around the County so that the pages will remain open for reference) will be available in January initially through the North Tonawanda History Museum and will also be distributed to other County cultural and tourism locations wishing to handle the sale. 

Cost of the "Demonstration Edition" is $15 each and can be mailed for an additional $4.  The North Tonawanda History Museum is accepting advance orders and accepts Master Card and Visa.  Mail orders should be sent to the History Museum at 314 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY 14120.

The new "Niagara Historic Trail" is dedicated "to our inspirations for their love of local history:  Dr. H. William Feder, A. Daniel Bille, and John W. Percy." 

Although the North Tonawanda History Museum is presently actively involved in moving from their three previous locations into their new home at 54 Webster Street, orders may be placed by phone at 213-0554 or email at nthistorymuseum@aol.com.  A Museum representative will get back to you within 24 hours and arrange for pick up or delivery or mailing. 

When the current Trail update project began in early 2008, the entire County of Niagara was enthusiastically celebrating the 200th anniversary of its establishment.  The volunteer crew of municipal historians and historians from historical organizations in the County did not know what to anticipate in doing the update.  A few had been involved in the earlier versions and some had never seen the printed versions of the earlier efforts.  We did, however, generally conclude that, since a significant number of sites included in the previous two printed publications either no longer exist, were of current interest at the time of their original inclusion, or required new or additional descriptive material based on knowledge gained since the earlier publications, an updated version was justified.

The original intent was to have each community section updated and redone as correctly and thoroughly as possible so that the current publication would be an appropriate addition to the celebration of the County’s anniversary and provide a starting point for future updates, since technology has significantly improved in recent years and repeat printings and updated printings are much easier to facilitate.  The finished product was to serve visitors to Niagara County, students of local history, and residents and become the basis for regular future updates and printing.

The plan was to fund the initial printing with grants and use the proceeds of the sale of the actual first printing for future printings.  A dedicated fund was  established by the North Tonawanda History Museum for this purpose, and a $5,000 grant was obtained from the Niagara County Legislature and a $2,500 Mini-Grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, a New York State affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, toward the initial printing costs.  Beverly DiPalma of Quinlan Associates volunteered her services for the design of the cover.  Carl Hoover of Pioneer Printers served as a consultant to the editor as plans progressed.  Donna Zellner Neal, North Tonawanda History Museum Executive Director served as Editor and coordinated the project.  Dr. H. William Feder made a presentation on the original Trail project at a March 2008 program of the North Tonawanda History Museum.

Because of the complications of a busy anniversary year in the County, a number of municipal historians were unable to fulfill the request for the historical descriptions, photos, and mapping data for their communities.  We apologize, therefore, if their communities’ segments require future work.  Without their assistance, we worked with what others were able to provide and did some of the work at the editor level so that all towns and villages and cities in Niagara County would be represented in the guidebook. The delays that resulted and the additional unanticipated work prevented us from having a completed copy at the initially planned time in September.

Our goal from the beginning, however, and the requirements of our funding of the printing, were for a book to be published in 2008 that could be easily updated and reprinted as needed. 

Once the copy was as complete as we could make it, with the variety of styles provided merged into a uniform style, mapping proved to be a problem because it was not just a matter of adding available maps.  Much of the material supplied, at a significant contribution of time by the historians, did not incorporate street addresses into the descriptions. In some instances, we had to totally eliminate a site which has an important history but for which siting it on a map was not possible as we passed our initial deadline and were continuing past the original schedule to complete the publication. 

Locating accurate maps which would work became a problem.  From the beginning, we had planned on using a uniform map, breaking it into segments.  That, we found as time was running out, left us with maps which did not agree with either of the previous publications in detail.  The historians who provided actual street addresses make it possible for the reader or traveler to locate their sites using the addresses.   We resigned ourselves to using what we had for the first printing.  John Zellner Neal of the North Tonawanda History Museum worked with the editor on this.  We will appreciate input from users of the book and the contributing historians so that the first update we do may include any necessary corrections and revisions. We also will be grateful for better maps for future reprints.   

We realize at this time with the initial printing that better maps are a necessity for the next printing.  Good quality black and white local municipal maps of the cities, towns, and villages are desired for future updates. It is our belief that the kind historians who worked with us in getting this “demonstration edition" together will, upon seeing the initial printing, assist in locating and preparing better local maps.   We also hope that other historic sites omitted from this initial printing of the publication can be incorporated into the next printing.  We hope as well that street addresses can be included – or at least a description of where on the road or street, or between what other sites, a site is located.

Copies will be distributed to all participating contributors to the publication and to the Mayor of each of the three cities, the Town Supervisors of the twelve towns, and the Mayors of the five villages.  City, Town and Village Clerks will also be given a copy of the "demonstration edition."  The "Demonstration Edition" will be available for purchase and will be reprinted as needed until the next update.  It is hoped that the publication will be updated every couple of years.

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