Now the beginning of another baseball season seems to be a perfect time to write about Cooperstown. It is known for its National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but lets look into The Farmers Museum.
Although this museum doesn’t seem worthy of a visit, it houses a unique object meriting investigation. The museum has a ten foot gypsum stature known as The Cardiff Giant’ or Americas Greatest Hoax.
Its story begins in 1869 when workers digging a well behind the barn of William Newell in Cardiff NY made a startling discovery. One of the laborers upon finding an object exclaimed, "I declare, some old Indian has been buried here!” It was first thought to be a petrified man. News rapidly spread around the countryside bringing people flocking to see the Giant.
William Newell set up a tent enclosing the giant charging 25¢ to view the marvel, doubling the price two day later. It created controversy some viewing the giant as an example of an ancient race mentioned in the Bibles book of Genesis. It benefitted from a religious fervor sweeping the country. A variety of ‘experts’ from around the country had differing theories of its origin. Finally archaeological scholars pronounced it a fake, finding discrepancies of all parts of its story.
A 5-ton block was ordered to create the figure by a stonecutter. It was secretly buried for discovery. The Cardiff Giant was sold to a syndicate of five men for $23,000 and moved to Syracuse NY for exhibit. Later in 1947 it was sold to ‘the Farmers Museum’ of Cooperstown where it is on display.
The Farmers Museum is one of the oldest rural life museums in the country. Its focus is for visitors to experience 19th century rural and village life using demonstrations and interpretative exhibits.
5775 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY
(Mid May through Columbus Day)
Daily 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
$12 - Adult
$10.50 - Age 65+
$6 –7- Ages 12 and college students
Active military - free
Cooperstown is a village of 1,852 population at the junction of route 28 and route 80. Judge William Cooper purchased the land in 1785, later given his name. He was father of noted American author James Fenimore Cooper, whose novels include The Last of the Mohicans.
Cooperstown once had the reputation as the ‘Village of Museums’. Fenimore Art Museum, Glimmerglass Opera, Ommegang Brewery and the New York State Historical Association are in the village.
‘The Farmers Museum’ is a 2:45 hour drive of 173 miles to Rochester, NY. Drive I-90 east to exit 30 at Herkimer. Drive route 30 south to Cooperstown, at stop sign turn left onto State Highway 80 east (Chestnut Street). Continue on highway 80 watching for signs to ‘The Farmers Museum’ on the left.
Now with weather of the east coast improving why not plan a trip to Cooperstown to see the source of Americas Greatest Hoax.