Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oliver H. Perry's Flagship Today

If you want to visit the Flagship Niagara, the reproduction of the ship in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry won the 1813 Battle Of Lake Erie, you'll find it moored at the Erie Maritime Museum--assuming it's in port. The Niagara is without much question the prime exhibit of the imposing museum, but the institution's scope covers the entire maritime history of Lake Erie.
The whole complex, museum, Niagara, and all, used to be administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The reins have been taken by the Niagara Heritage League, which runs everything from the scheduling of the ship to fundraising, to recruiting the ship's professional crew and volunteers for all programs.
The volunteer programs here definitely seem to be the type you can interact with. Always wanted to be a re-enactor? This is rather a high-investment option; but if you know your history and have the money for costumes or uniforms and traveling, you can be a member of The Ship's Company, the Niagara's crack reenactment unit. Or you can be involved in the actual maintenance of the brig. You can learn to make ship models, or work in the museum's gift shop, or be a docent and lead tours of the Niagara or the museum.
You have to be in the neighborhood, so to speak, to volunteer for the museum or for service on the Niagara. But to donate, or to join the Niagara Heritage League, or to shop at the online gift shop, you just need to go to and sign on. Do what you can; because, like all other organizations striving to take over from the state, the Niagara Heritage League needs all the help it can get.
Check the website, too, for schedule hours and days--very important, since the Niagara is not always in port, and there very likely are times in winter when the complex is closed. I could not verify this by phone, because I found the line busy. But I say again, check the web site in advance. You don't want to take a long trip and find the place shuttered.

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