Erie Maritime Museum
Housed in a former PENELC generating station, the Erie Maritime Museum permits visitors to learn about the rich history of the Lake Erie and the people and ships that sailed upon it from the War of 182 through present day. Located on Presque Isle Bay, the museum first opened back in 1998 and uses interpretive displays and historical artifacts to enlighten its patrons. It is also the home port for the US Brig Niagara, the full size recreation of the famous ship from the War of 1812. While in port, the Niagara is open for tours.
Backstory and Context
The museum offers a wide range of multimedia and interactive exhibits coupled with lively interpretive programs that vividly illustrate the region's rich maritime heritage. When in homeport, the ship herself is the major "exhibit". Berthed within yards of the museum, Niagara is visible from the building's bay side picture window. Inside, the centerpiece exhibits of the museum are a former steam-powered electricity generating station and a reconstruction of the mid-ship section of the USS Lawrence. The replicated Lawrence, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's first flagship during the Battle of Lake Erie, comes complete with mast, spars and rigging to foster hands-on learning in the ways of sail handling.
Another powerful display is the adjoining section of the Lawrence replica that has been blasted with live ammunition from the current Niagara's own carronades at the National Guard training facility in Fort Indiantown Gap, near Harrisburg. This unprecedented exhibit of the Lawrence recreates the horrific carnage inflicted upon both ships and men during the Battle of Lake Erie and throughout the Age of Fighting Sail. Other exhibits tell the stories of the USS Wolverine (previously the USS Michigan), the nation's first iron-hulled warship, the environmental transformation of the Great Lakes ecosystem and much more.