Summer Road Trip with Chuck D’Imperio: NY State Museum of Cheese!
Erie Canal Village in Rome, N.Y., is famous as the revered spot where the first shovel of dirt was turned for the Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. The village’s historic significance cannot be overstated regarding the transformation of the state of New York.
But what about the cheese?
Among the many buildings and structures at the Erie Canal Village you will find the New York State Museum of Cheese. Sounds kind of, well, cheesy doesn’t it?
It is not.
The museum, housed in one of the most expansive barns I have ever been in, tells the story of the important dairy and cheese industry in the state. Rome, and all of Central New York, was the Wisconsin of its day. At one time more than 700 family dairy farms dotted the upstate region within a two hours drive of Rome.
The Cheese Museum tells the story of its product with many nice displays, photographs and exhibits. Not to be missed is “The Big Cheese.” You will find a fantastic large depiction of the “largest wheel of cheese ever made” and all from the one day milk production of 12,000 cows. It weighed more than 12 tons and was shipped to the White House in 1837. There, as seen in the engraving, you can see old Andy Jackson taking a slice off the behemoth wheel. In vivid letters stamped across the side of the wheel you can see the words “Martinsburgh, N.Y. Cheese Factory.”
Obviously, all the cheese has been consumed years ago, but the giant metal wheel case (which held the cheese) is still here on display. It is more than seven-feet tall and was large enough for even a big guy like myself to walk through even with my arms outstretched!
The N.Y.S. Museum of Cheese is well worth an afternoon visit and is one of the chapters in my new book The Unknown Museums of Upstate New York.