1000 Islands Day Adventure – 08-07-17

On Monday, my friend, Cathy and I took a bus to the Thousand Islands for a day trip. The tour consisted of time in Alexandria Bay, NY for shopping, the boat tour of the Thousand Islands portion of the St. Lawrence River (including lunch), time to tour Boldt Castle, and a dinner stop at Cracker Barrel on the way home. It was a LONG day, but a fun day. Neither of us had been to the Thousand Islands since we were kids and neither of us had ever toured Boldt Castle, so it was a nice adventure for us both.

Cathy and Kim

When I was little, my family used to go camping at Henderson Harbor in the Thousand Islands. I have many fond memories of the times we spent there fishing and camping and having fun. A couple times, we took the boat tours, but never made the stop at Boldt Castle for the tour. 

Here I am in 1968 at 12 years old showing off the fish I caught with a couple of the islands behind me.

The Thousand Islands stretch stretch out about 50 miles in the St. Lawrence River (which starts at the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean just down stream from Quebec City) and are part of the international boundary between the US and Canada. Most of the islands are on the Canadian side in the Providence of Ontario, but many of the largest of the islands are on the US side in the state of NY. None of the islands straddle the US/Canadian border, however, a popular bit of trivia is that Zavikon Island is a pair of islands in which the larger is in Canada and the smaller in the US with the smallest International footbridge in the world joining them….this, per Wikipedia, is not accurate – both Zavikon is completely inside the Canadian Providence of Ontario…..cool story, though!

There are actually 1,864 islands in the archipelago. In order to be counted as one of the Thousand Islands, emergent land in the river must have at least one square foot of land above water all year round and have at least two living trees. Some of the islands are large enough to contain small communities – the largest being Wolfe Island at 40 square miles – some are smaller single residence islands, and some are tiny uninhabited outcroppings of rock. And, there is only one artificial, man-made island – Longue Vue Island.

Some other points of interest:

  • The homes on the islands tend to be valued in the multi-million dollar range
  • Ironsides Island is home to the largest Great Blue Heron Rookeries in NY State – over 1000 great blue herons return to the island every April to breed
  • Deer Island is owned by the ultra-secret society called Skull and Bones Society of Yale University. Notable members include President’s George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and President William Howard Taft, as well as John Kerry and the founder of Fed Ex. If I say anymore, I’d have to kill you, so I’ll leave this right here! 🙂
  • Thousand Island salad dressing originated there!
  • Thousand Islands have several ties to our little town of Albion, NY: Horace Greeley, whose Aunt and Uncle owned and resided in the Ward House – part of the Cobblestone Museum Complex – once owned an island. George Pullman, who commissioned the building of the beautiful Pullman Universalist Church in Albion had multiple interests in the islands. And, the island that Boldt Castle is located on was originally owned and named for the Hart family of Albion. One of the most prominent monuments (and one of my personal favorites) in Mt. Albion honors the Hart family.

Here are some of the photos I took on our tour – it was overcast most of the day, so the photos are a little dark and dreary looking, but the sun was out now and then and it didn’t rain, so all was good:

One of the shops in Alexandria Bay – it caught my eye cause I love dogs and my Dad’s name was Charlie! 🙂

We stopped in a shop selling wonderful pieces by local artists – I bought three necklaces!

Along the walkway to the artist shop, we found these shoes on sticks with portulaca growing in them among the hostas! How cute is that!!!???

We boarded the Alexandria Belle for our tour of the islands and a buffet lunch

The Alexandria Belle is a replica river boat – the paddle is for show, only! 😦

Our tour guide

During the recent flooding, this home owner tethered his house to the tree on the island to keep it from sliding off the foundation into the river!

The smallest of the chartered islands

This island and home is owned by a former NFL football player…..his home is pink because he left the decision of the house color when it was painted up to his granddaughters! 🙂

This is Zavikon Island – I talked about the popular story about this island in my intro paragraphs – the foot bridge has the Canadian flag on the left and the US flag on the right and it is said to be the shortest international foot bridge in the world…..an incorrect story, as the entire island complex is in Canadian waters.

Approaching Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle sits on Heart Island – originally named Hart Island after the original owners, but George C. Boldt renamed it Heart Island – it is believed he renamed it because of his love for his wife. Mr. Boldt immigrated from Prussia in the 1860s as the son of poor parents. He built his fortune in the hotel industry – he was the owner of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NY City, as well as other large hotels and was the president of several other large companies. He built Boldt Castle at the turn of the century for his wife, Louise, as a testament to his unsurpassed love for her. He invested $2.5 million to erect this extravagant Valentine’s Day gift for his wife. Unfortunately, Louise died in 1904 before the castle was completed and George never finished it or returned to it. The original Hart residence that was on the island prior to Mr. Boldt’s construction of his castle was slide on the ice to nearby Wellesley Island and is now being renovated into a B&B aptly named Hart House. Boldt Castle is now owned and maintained as a tourist attraction by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority.

The Power House and Clock Tower

Alster Tower – the only structure that was completed. It was to be the Boldt’s Playhouse and was where they lived for four years the castle was being built. It was to include a bowling alley, a shell room for dancing, a billiard room, library, and guest accommodations.

Heart shaped garden signifying the name of the island, as well as the tragic love story!

The first thing you see when you enter the foyer is this amazing grand marble and wood staircase open to all three floors

Formal dining room


One of many terraces overlooking the river

The basement was a maze of corridors and an indoor pool

View from the Observation Deck

From the third floor, you can look up to this incredible stained glass dome…..AWESOME!!!

Two of the bedrooms – this one was to be Louise’s and the next photo is the one that was to be their daughter’s

The organ in the Grand Ballroom

The Kitchen

I didn’t take my camera…..wish I had……and my iPhone was dying just about the time we were finishing the tour of Boldt Castle, so that is the end of my photos! 😦

It was an amazing day……left the house a little before 6:00 am and returned home about 9:30 pm with a long bus ride up and back, but it was worth it! I very much enjoyed every bit of it…..just wish the sun would have been out more, but I guess we can’t have everything!

6 Comments on “1000 Islands Day Adventure – 08-07-17

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