a museum and marketplace honoring the importance of watercraft in the development of North America, as depicted in the art of currency and coin. Before there were roads, before there were rails, there were oceans, rivers, lakes, canals and locks. Watercraft of all kinds — clipper ships, paddle-wheelers, canal barges, canoes paddled by Native Americans and French voyageurs, and even Huck Finn rafts, sailed these waters to open the continent. From 1804 to 1806, Lewis and Clark sailed upstream the Missouri, then down the Snake and Columbia – and a dozen other rivers in between – opening the West. Then the Erie Canal (1825) opened the Atlantic to the Great Lakes and beyond. Many of the vignettes in our collection show Native Americans watching with consternation while a ship or a railroad penetrated their lands. With the coming of railroads the importance of waterways slowly eclipsed. We tend to think the 21st century is changing everything, faster than ever. But just imagine yourself back in those early days of our country – the times they were a-changin’, faster than ever.
The aesthetic beauty and romantic legacy of the watercraft that brought those fast changes are preserved in these historical artifacts.