As the sun’s first streaks of light penetrate the fog across the 1000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York, a massive structure rises from the mist as though beamed here from another century. It is a huge castle in the style of those seen along Germany’s Rhine River, but only dates back to its beginning on Heart Island in 1900. George C. Boldt, who was the millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, began building this 6-story, 120-room dream castle complete with a drawbridge and Italian gardens out of a deep love for his wife Louise. In 1904 during the construction period, however, Louise died suddenly, so Boldt immediately halted all development and never returned to the area.
The unfinished Boldt Castle sat deserted on Heart Island like a forgotten relic of the middle ages for more than 70 years until a plan was devised to finish the beautiful structure. The original plans made by Boldt were still available, so in 1977 restoration began and still continues. Tour boats from Canada and the USA along with individuals now visit the practically completed castle by the hundreds of thousands each year, and what they see is well worth the time!
This is simply one of the many historical wonders, vistas, unique lodging opportunities, and adventures that awaits visitors to the 1000 Islands and the picturesque villages of Alexander Bay and Clayton. Most boat tours of the Boldt Castle and the eclectic houses of millionaires scattered throughout the 1000 Islands in both the US and Canada begin from the waterfront in Alexander Bay. The best of these is Uncle Sam Boat Tours who have been providing scenic cruises for nearly a century. Their most popular trip is the Two Nation Tour, a 2 1/4 hour cruise that features a narrated international tour to see historic and scenic wonders in both American and Canadian waters. At the end of each trip an optional stop is available at Boldt Castle on Heart Island for a self-guided tour. For more information, contact the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce toll-free at (800-541-2110) or visit the web site at: http://www.visitalexbay.org
Down the road a few miles is the waterfront village of Clayton that grew from the shipbuilding and lumber industry dating back to 1822. Many beautiful homes and buildings from that boom era have been saved and restored to their original elegance. Clayton is also known for having unique shops and excellent eateries along the scenic waterfront. For more information, contact the Clayton Area Chamber of Commerce toll-free at (800-252-9806) or their web site at: www.1000islands-clayton.com.