Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Thousand Islands Region, St. Lawrence River; Boldt Castle

The Thousand Islands Region 
Tibbets Point Lighthouse, Cape Vincent NY  
Photo by Ted Link

View of St. Lawrence River from Alexandria Bay, NY
We had the opportunity to visit the Thousand Islands Region again this past summer. I always love it up there. The Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River starts off the eastern end of Lake Ontario with a small village- Cape Vincent, NY. Cape Vincent has a beautiful little Lighthouse called Tibbets Point Lighthouse. Also, there is a small ferry that you can take that crosses the river from Cape Vincent to Wolfe Island, and from there you take a larger ferry to Kingston, Ontario. If you are interested in taking the ferry to Ontario, Canada you will need to bring your passports. Heading further east, the next little river community you will find is Clayton, NY. Clayton has an antique boat museum that has over 300 boats and nautical artifacts. In 2014 the Antique Boat Museum will celebrate it's 50th year. The next village that you come to on the St. Lawrence River is Alexandria Bay. "A Bay" is always busy with tourists, scenic boats and cruises, lake freighters, and awesome views of  "The River" as the locals call it. There are two Castles that are open to the public for viewing,  Boldt Castle and Singer Castle. We toured Boldt Castle and got some great pictures of the Castle and gardens. Singer Castle is a privately owned castle and is open to the public. It's completely finished and was owned by the original family until the 1960's. If you are coming from Canada you will need to bring your passport to stop at the Castles because they are on American islands.

This is a great introductory video of the Thousands Islands. 
I love this video! The Thousand Islands RiverQuest by Helicoptor. 
For the full effects of the movie view it in Full Screen (then click escape to bring you back to this page).

Landing and docks on Heart Island
Boldt Castle. In the early 1900's, after vacationing in the Thousand Islands, George C. Boldt, owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, decided to build a castle for his wife on one of the islands. He had the name of the island changed from the original name of Hart Island to Heart Island. And he had the shape of the island changed as well in the shape of a heart. The castle was nearly completed when his wife took ill and died. At that point in time, Mr. Boldt ordered the workers on the castle to stop working. He never returned to the island or castle. The castle was left exposed to the weather and vandalism for over 70 years. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977 and has returned the net revenues back into the restoration of the buildings and grounds. The restoration is an ongoing project. Most of the first and second floors of the castle have been restored, but the upper levels are not finished at this time. The damage on the upper floors is from past weather exposure and previous vandalism.

The Entry Arch

Here is a link for additional beautiful photos and information on Boldt Castle. You can also see some pictures that were taken before the renovation began:
Boldt Castle Visitor Information
Note: Ticket prices listed on the above link does not include the cost of the tour/cruise boats. 
If you wish to visit the Castle without taking one of the scenic cruises you can travel to Wellesley Island and follow directions to the Boldt Castle Yacht House. You can purchase a package to the Yacht House and Boldt Castle and a round trip shuttle service is included in the price. There is additional docking for private boats as well at the Castle.

New Guinea Impatiens appeared to be the most used flower on the island this year. But that changes from year-to- year.

I like how they landscaped around the rock formations.

The Dove-Cote was built to house their fowl and exotic birds.

I think this might be one of their trial gardens where they test plantings to see how they look together.

Beautiful red & white New Guinea Impatiens

The Castle is reached by boat only. It was a little overcast on our ride over to Heart Island.

In the background on the left is the Castle Yacht House. From there you can take the free shuttle boat to the Island. This Yacht museum is also open to the public and it is on Wellesley Island. You can tour the Yacht museum for a small additional fee. In the middle of the picture is one of the many scenic boat/cruise lines that stop at the island for viewing.

Sunken Rock Lighthouse  Photo by  Ted Link

Interior view of the dome

Other Related Links:

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic
Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce:
A Thousand Islands of Summer National Geographic Traveler (May 2010):
A Bit of Paradise on Island No. 999- The New York Times Escapes (August 24, 2007):
Cape Vincent, NY:
Horne's Ferry, Cape Vincent (to Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada):
Wolfe Island Ferry (from Wolfe Island to Kinston, Ontario, Canada): Wolfe Island Ferry
Antique Boat Museum, Clayton, NY:
Singer Castle, Alexandria Bay, NY: (this link includes a short 2 min. video of Singer Castle)
Reader's Digest: For the Romantic: Boldt Castle in New York:
Great Lakes Seaway Trail- National Scenic Byway:


  1. I remember going there when I was 13 or 14.I thought it was fascinating!

    1. Just in the last few years they have done so much with the Castle. It's really beautiful and it's a "work in progress". It's amazing to be able to see the before and after as well.

  2. Hi Sue, Wonderful blog today. We have never been to that part of New York and now I see what we have been missing, gotta go! I sent this blog to a friend of mine who just sold a cottage on " the river" as they call it. Thought she might be interested as she and her husband live in Vestal NY and winters in Leesburg Fla.
    The video you included is wonderful. Thanks. Cleaning up the yard and have to go dig up the lily tubers and get those shipped to my friend in Oregon.

  3. Hi Judy, Glad you liked this issue. It really is a beautiful area up there and lots of beautiful State Parks with camping on "the River". I'm sure you would enjoy it too. Yes, we have to keep working in the yard to get it ready for winter! Thanks for your comments.

  4. Outstanding!!! Love the all the pictures of the gardens!
    Who maintains all of those flowers and grounds?
    Keep up the great job!!

    1. Thank you Martha. I'm not sure who exactly maintains the flowers and grounds. I checked their website and all it said was that they plant 10,000 annuals each year, but they didn't specify who takes care of it.

  5. Thanks, Sue. Great job. I haven't toured the castle in quite a while. I don't remember seeing all of those gardens. Time to go again.

    1. Thank you Linda. I found the gardens to be concentrated in certain areas, but not extensively over the entire grounds. I thought they were very well done, and in good taste.

  6. Towards the end of August we took the 1000 Island boat cruise as well, but from the Canadian side. We didn't stop at Boldt Castle as a passport if needed to leave the boat. It was a wonderful trip around the islands. One of these days I'll get around to writing about it on my site.

  7. Yes, Linda, I thought about it after that I should update this article and mention that if you are coming from Canada to Boldt Castle or Singer Castle you will need a passport because they are on American Islands. It's a little confusing up there because if you are on a private boat you really need to know which islands are Canadian and which ones are Americans. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update this article!