Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site has been offering a virtual book club during the month of August that features Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal by author Jack Kelly. Each week the site has held “virtual” check ins and discussion about sections of the book. The author will be providing a program with a Q&A about the book that covers social, political, and religious transformations in America during the early years of the Erie Canal. You can join via Webex to watch and listen to Kelly speak about his process, research, the history, and more on September 2nd at 6:30pm. The link is provided on the Schoharie Crossing Facebook page, their NYS Parks website, or by contacting the site.
Book club participants have submitted questions for the author and those viewing the program can use the chat function to ask for additional comments or any questions they have about the content of the book. Heaven’s Ditch by Jack Kelly illuminates the spiritual and political upheavals along the Erie Canal from its opening in 1825 through 1844. “Wage slave” Sam Patch became America’s first celebrity daredevil. William Miller envisioned the apocalypse. Farm boy Joseph Smith gave birth to Mormonism, a new and distinctly American religion. Along the way, the reader encounters America’s very first “crime of the century,” a treasure hunt, searing acts of violence, a visionary cross-dresser, and a panoply of fanatics, mystics, and hoaxers. A page-turning narrative, Heaven’s Ditch offers an excitingly fresh look at a heady, foundational moment in American history.
This is part of a series of online programs Schoharie Crossing has been offering in 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis. The Erie Canal historic site will continue to provide programs through Webex as well as other online programs and social media. Look for programs in October to recognize NYS History Month. More information is always available through event links on the Schoharie Crossing Facebook page or NYS Parks website.
The site grounds remain open for appropriate socially distant recreational use from sunrise to sunset daily. Please observe NYS Guidelines while visiting Schoharie Crossing. For information about these programs, please find us on Facebook or you can call or email the Visitor Center at (518) 829-7516, SchoharieCrossing@parks.ny.gov.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual state parks, historic sites, golf courses, boat launches and recreational trails, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.