Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thousand Islands & Boldt Castle

Posted by Stu On January - 15 - 2014

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Photos Taken October 2011

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From my experience, few people are aware that The Thousand Islands refers to an actual place and not just salad dressing.  The area in question is between Ontario and New York, along the St. Lawrence River and the uppermost section of Lake Ontario.  The name The Thousand Islands is also a little off; there are actually closer to two thousand of them.

Several companies offer boat tours of the islands.  Many tours allow you to visit one of two castles, either Boldt Castle on Heart Island or Singer Castle on Dark Island.  This time, we opted for Boldt Castle.  Someday we’ll return and check out the other one.

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If you are coming from the US side, you do not need a passport for these tours since the boats do not land in Canada.  The two islands with castles are also entirely within the United States.

The tour itself consists of a boat ride with a guide giving short histories and random facts about many of the islands, houses, and owners.  At the end, if you want (and why wouldn’t you), the boat drops you off on Heart Island, and for a small fee you are allowed to roam the island and its buildings.

One story I found fascinating involved some statues on the US side.  During Prohibition, according to our guide, whether or not the statues’ eyes were lit up let bootleggers on the Canadian side of the river know whether or not it was safe to bring over their booze.

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The following is a somewhat blurry photo of the smallest official island, known as Tom Thumb.  Our guide said to qualify as an “official” island, it must be bigger than a square foot, has to be above water year round, and must have at least one tree.

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So those are some of the sights to be seen during the boat tour.  It’s amazing how some of the houses have virtually no yard between them and the water.

After going up and down the river a bit, the boat then pulls into Heart Island.  A quick history – in 1900, multimillionaire George Boldt ordered the construction of Boldt Castle for his wife.  She died four years later.  Heartbroken, George halted all work on the island and never returned.  The castle and its surrounding buildings remained abandoned until 1977, when the Thousand Islands Bridge Commission  paid one dollar for Heart Island.

All money made on the island goes toward restoring and preserving the castle and grounds.

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You are allowed to roam most of the castle.  There are two other buildings on the island as well.  The powerhouse is at the back of the island and now serves as a museum.  Alster Tower, at the front of the island, was closed for repairs when we visited.

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Popularity: 10% [?]

Mohegan Bluffs

Posted by Stu On February - 1 - 2010

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Photos taken May & October 2009

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Simply put, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Mohegan Bluffs, found on the southern end of Block Island, drop down nearly 200 feet to the beach below.  Centuries ago, much of the Mohegan tribe was forced over the cliffs by the Manisee tribe in a battle over control of the island.  Nowadays, the beach is an idyllic and somewhat secret tourist destination.

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There are over 100 steps that lead down to an overlook.  From there, it’s a bit of a challenge to reach the beach.  This is one of the few places I’ve been where a rope has been provided; there’s a piece of rope tied from near the bottom of the deck down to what looks like an old mast to help visitors get to the beach.

Also worth noting is that it’s somewhat of a popular custom to stack rocks or make things out of things washed ashore.

I admit, pictures do little justice; I’ve shot some videos and am hoping to post them sometime.

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Popularity: 24% [?]

Block Island Indian Cemetery

Posted by Stu On February - 1 - 2010

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I read about this cemetery after my first trip to Block Island and decided to look for it on my second trip.  I had never been to an “Indian” cemetery before and was curious to see one.  This graveyard was used by the Manisee tribe who originally inhabited the island.  Upon the introduction of white settlers, it was also used to inter slaves.  The natives’ graves are simply marked with rocks, although there are a few more recent headstones to be found as well.

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Popularity: 27% [?]

Ocean View Hotel Ruins

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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Not far from the port on Block Island can be found the ruins of the Ocean View Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1966.  Sections of the foundation and some rubble are all that remains of it today.  The area also had quite a bit of poison ivy, so needless to say, I had to tread very carefully.

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Part of the area has been maintained by schoolkids and is being used as a garden.  We didn’t see anything growing when we were there though.

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The above bluff is right by the hotel site.  A small plaque on the ground tells of a couple being married on this spot.

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Popularity: 19% [?]

“Treasure Island” – Nienstedt Island

Posted by Stu On June - 21 - 2006

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Another place found due to geocaching. I’d been wanting to go to this island for over 2 years but never had the time or anyone willing to cross the Manasquan River with me in my crappy inflatable raft.

It was really cool exploring what appeared to be a seldom visited island. The island did have some party remnants on it, but nowhere as much as I was expecting. I’m including it on the site because of some of the things I found on it – the remains of docks and what appears to be a wall running down one side of the island.
…oh, and the guy who wrote Treasure Island actually visited this place and gave it its unofficial name.


Approaching the island.


The raft of doom lands.

Sadly, the interior of the island had nothing of interest. There were a few overgrown trails and a lot of birds. That’s about it.
We found a sign dedicating the island to its namesakes, the Nienstedts.

Fair warning – much of the island is covered with poison ivy.

Popularity: 17% [?]

Fort Delaware

Posted by Stu On September - 21 - 2005

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The back of the fort as seen from Fort Mott.

We noticed on one of our visits to Fort Mott that a ferry runs among 3 forts: Forts Mott, Delaware, and DuPont. I found out Fort Delaware is on its own island, Pea Patch Island, in the middle of the River. It is only accessible by the ferry and is where the Civil War soldiers buried at Finn’s Point came from. We tried to board the ferry once, but it stopped its route early that day due to “bad weather” (which lasted a whopping 15 minutes). So we tried again 2 weeks later and finally got there.
Once on the island, we were greeted by a tram of sorts, which drove us right up to the fort entrance; I was surprised to discover the fort has a moat around it. To the right are the remains of 2 batteries, and off to the left are reconstructed barracks (the prison and original barracks were dismantled not long after the Civil War ended).


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The reconstructed barracks

A small portion of the barracks may have been remade, but the fort itself is pretty much in the same shape as it was during its prime in 1864. The floors and walkways are pretty uneven as a result. There are a few people dressed in Civil War-era clothes who can tell you more than you care to know about the fort. One woman bragged about the 40+ flush toilets – “not even Mr. Lincoln has those in the White House.” There are tours, but we chose to walk around on our own, as we most always do.


OMFG teh Orbz!!111


The concession guy was definitely not in 1864 character.

Popularity: 12% [?]

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