The Skenesborough Museum has become an international travel destination this summer.
Carol Greenough, director, said the museum has enjoyed an encouraging year, fueled in part by an influx of foreign tourists.
“We’ve had a terrific number of people from out state and out of the country,” Greenough said last week. “I was really surprised to see the number of people from other counties who deliberately came to Whitehall to visit the museum.”
The countries from which people have visited the museum reads like a diplomat’s passport: Jerusalem, Australia, Holland, Trindad and Tobago, Bulgaria, Germany and the providences of Quebec and Ontario, Canada.
“We are definitely an attraction,” Greenough said.
One of those guests, from Canberra, Australia, was a Captain in the Royal Australian Navy and left a medallion as a memento of his visit.
The museum has also made some additional money this year from the sale of “Birthplace of the Navy” t-shirts.
“I’ve had to reorder (shirts) twice,” Greenough said.
Although she hasn’t crunched the numbers, Greenough believes, at least on a per-day or per-week basis, the museum has been busier, despite having been open for only two months.
The museum was closed all of June and most of July as the building’s roof was removed and replaced.
Foreign travelers have not been the only visitors who have frequented the museum this year.
There has also been a steady stream of cyclists who have stopped in. Although many stop in looking for directions or for maps, some have spent a few minutes looking over the museum’s collection.
Greenough said a combination of factors have played a part in the museum’s success this year.
For one, Greenough purchased advertising space in “Adventure Cycling,” a publication dedicated to travel cycling.
The magazine has also published two different cycling “adventures” that start in Burlington and pass through or near Whitehall.
That publicity has fueled interest in the community, and by extension, the museum.
Greenough also discovered from a discussion with a Florida couple, that there are printed materials extolling Whitehall and the amenities the community offers boaters.
“I don’t think any of us have a clue of just how far reaching the information is about this community,” she said.
The community itself has also played a role, Greenough said.
“Other than being the Birthplace of the Navy, I think Whitehall’s unique enough to cause people to stop and ask questions,” she said.
Besides the community’s role in the state’s canal system and its heritage as an important shipping port on Lake Champlain during the 18th and 19th centuries, the lore of Sasquatch serves as an attractant.
“Several people have inquired recently,” Greenough said.
“You just don’t know who’s going to walk through the door and what they are going to ask.”