The Oregon Trail

US-20 bumps up north along the lakeshore through several miles of scraggly forest, and you won’t miss a thing by taking the I-90/NY Thruway to exit 57A, which lands you on a two-lane back road bound right for sleepy downtown Eden (pop. 7,688). Eden, a make-your-own-music lovers’ paradise that lays claim to an annual summer Eden Corn Festival, is home to the one-and-only Original American Kazoo Company museum, gift shop, and factory (8703 S. Main St., 716/992-3960, Mon.-Sat., free). Established in 1916, the company boasts the world’s only still-operating metal kazoo factory (most of the ones now made in China and Hong Kong are plastic). A restored two-story clapboard house contains a gift shop and museum offering an up-close-and-personal view of the factory’s belt-and-pulley metal kazoo production line and the opportunity to sign a petition aimed at getting the kazoo declared America’s national instrument.

After viewing a video extolling the virtues of one of the few musical instruments invented in the United States, visitors can gaze at a display of antique kazoos, ranging from an original wooden model to the bottle-shaped kazoos churned out to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. A large sign chimes in with some fascinating kazoo-related trivia, describing the most popular kazoo (the slide trombone), the largest kazoo ever made (the 43-pound Kazoophony), and the number of kazoo bands registered in the United States (15,000 and still counting). You can pick up an adenoid-popping nose flute, a trombone kazoo, and a variety of noisemakers in the gift shop on your way out, or grab some wax paper, rubber bands, and an empty toilet paper roll and create your own kazoo.