Porter Shares Virtual Museum Concept With Canoe Place Historical Society

Smethport Web — by Martha Knight

“Your whole town is a museum,” Smethport mayor and teacher Ross Porter told the Canoe Place Historical Society in Port Allegany last Wednesday night.

Porter and Smethport students have created Planet Smethport, a Web site that contains some 2,200 “pages” of information.

Initially Smethport photographs from “then” and now, and information relating to buildings, scenes and people in the photos, were the Web site content.

A special feature of the site is links embedded within photos, giving viewers numerous navigation options, and allowing them to take virtual “walking tours.”

Porter and his team have expanded their focus to other area communities, including some now vanished or nearly so.

Port Allegany can be toured from a link on Planet Smethport, Porter said, and took historical members along by showing them many parts of that section of the Web site, using laptop computer, projector and a large standing screen.

“This is all yours,” Porter said, indicating the Port Allegany historical group is welcome to use material from the site in its projects.

In particular, Porter encouraged the group to think in terms of its own Web presence, along the lines of Planet Smethport, “inviting the whole world into your museum.”

Realizing that the Canoe Place Historical Society, only a few months old, is not yet in a position to acquire a suitable building for a physical museum, Porter pointed out that even without a building or physical display area, the group can obtain photos, artifacts, historical documents and memorabilia, by digitizing them.

Mickey Dates, Ross Porter, Richard Kallenborn

Left to right: Mickey Dates, membership chair of Canoe Place Historical Society; historian, teacher and Smethport Mayor Ross Porter; and Richard Kallenborn, Port Allegany Borough Manager, who is also chair of the Society’s Ways, Means and Finance Committee.

Taking digital photos of objects and places, and scanning existing photos and documents, are ways of obtaining material that can be displayed online, Porter said. In many cases, present owners of those items would still own the items, but the society would obtain their images and use them online and in publications, with appropriate credits.

“Port Allegany is a treasure,” Porter said. “It doesn’t hurt that changes have happened. We have the photographs.”

The group affirmed president Beth Bee’s appointment of Port Allegany borough manager Richard Kallenborn and Ways and Means chairperson, and Mickey Dates as membership chairperson.

Also approved by the society was participation in the Wordworking Wonders Weekend festival, scheduled for June 19-20 on the Square. They will offer a tour of historical places, via horse and wagon, and a brochure. The project was proposed by the program committee and presented by chairperson Dortha Jones.

The group continues with its work on incorporating as a non-profit corporation and securing federal tax exempt status.

Porter chatted with group members further during refreshments. The meeting was at St. Joseph Episcopal Church.