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Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame

This place oozes with charm. From the moment you enter the town you’ll be struck by the wide streets lined with mature trees and stately homes dating from the early 1800s set back in helter-skelter fashion from the roadways. And, it boasts the country's beloved National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and More

If you’re looking for where the action is then head for Main Street. A stroll takes you to world-class museums, quaint antique shops, fancy and not so fancy restaurant, flower shops, book stores and businesses that sell anything related to baseball. National League caps, uniforms, bats, gloves, you name it and it’s here. After all, this is where you find the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s the towns premier tourist attraction. Established in 1939 the museum has recently undergone major renovations. Here are baseballs greatest triumphs. Before you enter the museum in the lobby is a wax figure of baseball legend Babe Ruth( The Babe),who at the time(1920's,30's) was hitting more home runs than entire teams. Ted Williams at plate is also immortalized in wax. Williams was the last player to hit 521 career home runs.

Once inside, baseball fans will go wild. There are 35,000 bats, balls, uniforms, and gloves, a half-million baseball photos, and 130,000 baseball cards. The Baseball Hall of Fame is open year round.

Down the road is another place worth visiting. The Farmer’s Museum offers a rare opportunity to discover the agricultural and cultural history of 19th century farming. You’ll also be intrigued by the colorful Todd’s General Store and the Empire State Carousel.

Walk off Main Street to Capture the Charm of Cooperstown

You’ll walk by an old fire hall that now is the home of The Freeman’s Journal, the oldest newspaper in the United States in continuous operation since 1808. You might even see Publisher Jim Kevlin filling one of the newspaper boxes in town -- in small towns, publishers also work as delivery guys. Kevlin noted that, Cooperstown has lots of roots. The hamlet was founded by Judge William Cooper in 1785. He was a member of Congress. James Fenimore Cooper, 19th century writer who wrote Last of the Mohicans and many more great novels, was one of his 12 children.

One of the coolest spots (figuratively and literally) in this town of 3,000 people is The Smithy-Pioneer Gallery on Pioneer Street. This is the oldest building in Cooperstown (1786) and also built by Judge William Cooper to serve as a blacksmith shop. Forges, anvil stands and other remnants of the shop give you a peek into the past. Today the main floor(fallery) shop is a pottery studio where craftspeople show and sell their art. Step outside for a special treat and see the Sculpture Garden. On the second floor is The Pioneer Gallery which was established in 1957 by Dr. Henry Cooper and dedicated to his ancestor's memory. The gallery operates free of charge from June to September.

A few more things to put on your “To do” list is travel the countryside and soak in the views around each corner of old churches set on hilltops, lovely colourfully painted lake side cottages, beautiful old inns like The Cooper Inn , old farms where horses and cows meander in large fields. The Fenimore Art Museum in an elegant 1930s neo-Georgian mansion preserves the art, history and culture of rural American life. It’s one-mile north of town.

If You Go

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George Bailey is a professional photographer and writer. He is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and writes a regular column for Canadian CAA Magazine. He can be contacted at

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: August 11, 2016

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