by Allison McLaughlin Maricle & Darlene ”Missy” Smith

A new permanent banner exhibit pertaining to the evolving Mohawk River and canals at Little Falls has been added to the marina’s welcome center within the freight house terminal building area at the Little Falls Harbor at Rotary Park Marina. This exhibit is free to view daily during the boating season, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

We would like to share with you how this exhibit came about by first introducing ourselves – Allison McLaughlin Maricle has been an employee for the past four years at the marina, and Darlene” Missy” Smith, has been a volunteer there for the past six years.

A yearly picnic is held at the marina at the end of each boating season for all of its employees and volunteers. At the 2021 picnic, Allison stated that she would like to do a historical photo exhibit of the Little Falls canals and have it displayed in the original area of the marina’s freight house terminal building. Missy indicated that she had wanted to do an exhibit on the history of the evolving Mohawk River as it correlated to the development of the City of Little Falls. We quickly concluded that we could combine both of our ideas to produce an educational canal exhibit relating to the history and growth of Little Falls as an important canal community.

The exhibit tells the story of the evolving Mohawk River and Erie Canal in Little Falls through the use of five banners. Little Falls has a unique location along the waterways, with the mile stretch of rapids having a 40-foot drop in elevation, known as “The Magnificent Mile.” These rapids gave rise to the need for locks to circumvent the barriers. It was also a source of waterpower for future industrial development. Each banner shares a brief synopsis, through the use of photos, and narrative text, for each section of time of the history of the development of Little Falls and its waterways. Our project became the exhibit “The Magnificent Mile – Portage to Present.”

Several months were spent on research, writing the narrative, and sourcing the relevant photos that were to become part of the project. Five mock-up banners were constructed on craft paper, with each banner telling a section of the history story. Robert Critser of Digital Sports Photography printed the final banners on canvas to accentuate the maritime feel of the exhibit.

The original 1918 mid-section room within the historic freight house terminal at the Little Falls Harbor was chosen to display the exhibit. The room emits an aura of maritime history that blends so well with the history of the evolving Mohawk River and its canal-side village.

  • BANNER 1 – History of the Origin of the Mohawk River
  • BANNER 2 – The Little Carrying Place and the Western Inland Lock Navigation Canal
  • BANNER 3 – The Original Erie Canal
  • BANNER 4 – The Barge Canal Construction
  • BANNER 5 -The Barge Canal | Present-Day Erie Canal

Two additional exhibit banners are also on display. One is a photo banner with photographs by Dave Warner depicting activities throughout Little Falls. Additionally, there is an exhibit of antique postcards of historic places within Little Falls that were donated by the Little Falls Historical Society. A notebook will be available containing a broader and deeper history of the formation of Little Falls and its waterways.

We would like to acknowledge and give many thanks to the following agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals for their encouragement, support, and financial backing of “The Magnificent Mile-Portage to Present” exhibit. It was through them that this project was completed.

City of Little Falls Harbor Commission
City of Little Falls Tourism Commission
Little Falls Rotary Club: Painting in the Exhibit Area
Little Falls Historical Society: Photos on Banners 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 and donation of Banner 7
Little Falls Library: Computer Technical Support – Mike & Carol
Digital Sports Photography- Robert Critser: Layout & Printing
ffp Frank Forte: Photos on Banner 5
My Little Falls- Dave Warner: Photos on Banner 6
Pohlig’s- Bob Pohlig: Paint and Supplies
Louis Baum: Narrative Consultant
Mark Roy: Installation of the Exhibit
Michael Smith: Installation of the Exhibit
David Talaba: Installation of the Exhibit