American Museum of Firefighting
This delightful spit-and-polish hall (125 Harry Howard Ave., off Rte. 9 just north of Rte. 23B, 518/828-7695 or 800/479-7695, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily, free admission) boasts the nation’s largest collection of fire-fighting equipment and related paraphernalia, including dozens of exquisite old horse-drawn fire carriages, many equipped with fairy-tale finery. Several carriages sport engraved lanterns and velvet-covered seats. One even has silver- and gold-plated hubcaps.
Part of the American Museum of Firefighting’s charm is its location on the grounds of New York’s retirement home for volunteer firemen. You’ll see the retirees hanging out on the porch as you drive up, and you’ll meet them as you tour the museum. From them you’ll learn that 80 percent of New York State’s firefighters are still volunteers, a fact that poses a serious problem as the demands of firefighting are not compatible with busy modern-day lives.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition