Located along the Eastern Lake Ontario shores of Sackets Harbor in the historic Union Hotel, c. 1817, our interactive exhibits cover a variety of topics including Maritime Heritage, Military History, Lighthouses, Natural History, Agriculture, and much more!
Kids will enjoy "driving" their own car in the orientation room, racing cars on a miniature byway, stepping behind the wheel of a ship, or meeting our talking cow. Visitors of all ages will enjoy learning about the region's plants and wildlife, the War of 1812, unique architecture, lighthouses, and some of the region's notable residents & famous Americans.
Learn about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and launch your own voyage of discovery!
May 10 - June 22: Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
June 28 - September 2: Open Wednesday through Sunday
The Discovery Center is closed for the season.
Location & Contact Info:
Seaway Trail Discovery Center
401 West Main St.
Sackets Harbor, NY 13685
What You'll See at the Discovery Center
Our tour of the Discovery Center begins with the 3rd Floor Orientation Room...
Is that a New York State Bluebird? Look! An osprey...and a great blue heron. Sixteen species of birds and nine varieties of leaves are seen in the murals of the orientation room. The large ballroom of this historic hotel building is the Discovery Center’s orientation room. Come sit near a camping tent or “ride” in a fantasy car large enough for four adults to view an introductory video on traveling the Seaway Trail. A St. Lawrence skiff, a replica of Dunkirk Lighthouse and other treasures are found in this room.
The coastal recreation room depicts the diversity of fun experiences to be found along the 518-mile Seaway Trail. Large photos show the 1000 Islands, Niagara Falls, and Lake Ontario. An array of 20” x 16” prints invite you to discover sport-fishing in Orleans County, Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester, boating along the St. Lawrence River, picnicking in Cayuga County, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in Oswego, the lovely harbors of Jefferson County, nature walking in Wayne County, and bird-watching in Erie County.
Murals in the natural history room illustrate the major birds, mammals and fish found along the Seaway Trail in woodlands, wetlands, sand dunes and beaches, and field habitats. Can you find a cottontail rabbit, a white-tailed deer, or an Atlantic salmon? Stroll a replica of a dune walkover.
Fourteen panels in the architecture room offer a look at the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and cobblestone masons, at the treasured buildings of such communities as Sackets Harbor, Pultneyville, Oswego and Fredonia, at the seven international bridges spanning the waters between Niagara Falls, the 1000 Islands, Ogdensburg and Massena to Canada, and at such cityscapes as Delaware Avenue in Buffalo and East Avenue in Rochester. We think the most ornate fireplace in the Discovery Center is in this room. Please tell us if you agree.
The peoples of the coast cultural room was once the hotel’s gathering place - and now a young Ulysses S. Grant is here to greet you. Grant was stationed in Sackets Harbor twice at Madison Barracks before his Presidency. He enjoyed a game of checkers, such as you see on the countertop in this former tavern room. Explore among the luggage pieces you see here to discover the personalities of the Seaway Trail region and sites to go to learn more about suffragette Susan B. Anthony, photography pioneer George Eastman, castle builder George Boldt, artist Frederick Remington, comedians Luci & Desi Arnaz, and ...
The Maritime History theme Lighthouse and 1812 rooms overlook Lake Ontario. Aye, Captain! Come stand behind a ship’s wheel to have your photo taken. Take a moment to enjoy a video tour of the Seaway Trail’s 28 historic lighthouses with bits of interesting history from current light keepers and the heirs of past beacon tenders. That’s Buffalo Main Light in a wall mural. In the 1812 room, an old-fashioned apothecary cabinet might have dispensed remedies to soldiers and sailors. Aerial photos show three sites important during the conflict: Fort Ontario in Oswego, Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, and Madison Barracks’ water tower. A sepia-tone map sites the 1812 historic markers “museum without walls” found at 42 stops Trail-wide.
The kitchen of this historic hotel is now painted a bright Warbler Yellow and is the coastal agricultural showcase room. A grains display offers a look at the wheat, corn and rye grown on farms Trail-wide. A jelly cupboard holds the fruits and vegetables and homegrown products of the region. An authentic-size grape growing frame with vines and grapes will whet your appetite to visit Chautauqua County, home to several grape farms and wineries. These exhibits stimulate a greater appreciation for preserving the region’s scenic and bountiful agricultural landscapes.
Moo! Moo! The Discovery Center Cow is calling from her alcove stall adjoining the kitchen room. She wants to tell you about her life on a Seaway Trail dairy farm and how much milk she can produce, the fine cheeses made with dairy products. The mural behind her milking stool is framed with real barn wood.
Would you like a souvenir of your tour? Visit the first-floor gift shop for shirts, books, crafts, art and more made on or depicting the Seaway Trail. You can also visit our online store here.
The mission of these many exhibits is to inspire you to visit the many fine attractions and businesses, farm markets and amusement parks, historic lighthouses and welcoming harbors, campgrounds and nature centers across the Seaway Trail. This National Scenic Byway has something to offer travelers of all ages — whether your interest is bird-watching, sport-fishing or architecture, roller coasters or fine dining, exploring history or nature...
The Center opened July 15, 2000. Group tours are available year round by appointment. Ticket prices range from $4 for adults to $3 for seniors and students with ID, and $2 for children 4 to 17. Those younger than four may enter free. The building also houses Seaway Trail, Inc. and the Seaway Trail Foundation, Inc. headquarters.