Thursday, November 17, 2011

Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands

Whenever we travel, I research the area or areas that we’re visiting to learn about the big attractions…and then we decide what we’d really like to see.  Sometimes the setting is just as stunning as is the attraction we’ve focused on…

We obviously didn’t take this picture!  This is an official arial photo of the Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the St. Lawrence River between the USA and Canada.  While it is a great picture of the island and it’s castle, it also provides an image that explains the visual attraction to the Thousand Islands portion of the St. Lawrence River.  The photo is from the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority’s Boldt Castle website.

This photo shows the upper deck of an Uncle Sam’s tour boat as it approached the Boldt Castle.  We took a pleasant St. Lawrence River/Seaway cruise/narrated tour that ended by dropping us off at the Castle. (In the near future, I will post photos from the cruise)

Laurie took this shot of the front of Boldt’s Castle.  The story of the Castle is a really sad love story.  Boldt had a home and a large farm on nearby Wellesley Island.  But, in 1900, George C. Boldt began construction of this 6-story, 120 room castle on Heart Island for his wife Louise.  George was the proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.  Over 300 craftsmen worked on the Castle, the powerhouse, tunnels, children’s playhouse, dove-cote and gardens.  Sadly, Louise died suddenly in 1904…before the Castle and its grounds were completed.  George Boldt then lost interest in the project, he stopped all construction and he abandoned the Castle…

Note: Much of the interior has been restored and it is impressive.  Construction and restoration is underway in other portions of the building as well.  Every year of work on the Castle and its immediate environs will provide something new for visitors to experience…

This is a view of the Boldt Castle powerhouse that Laurie took from the garden path leading from the Castle itself.

For 73 years, the partially completed and abandoned Castle was exposed to the weather and vandals.  Then, in 1977, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority took possession of the island.  Their plan was to open it up for public viewing with all net revenues going to the maintenance, restoration and continued construction of Boldt’s Castle.  In a very real sense, this is an ongoing construction project.  The Bridge Authority had just finished the master bedroom shortly before we toured the Castle. 

Here’s another view of the Power House.  This structure, as well as the main ‘house’, are particularly evocative of the castles along the Rhine River in Germany.

One item of interest is that Heart Island with Boldt Castle is an Official Port of Entry into the USA from Canada.  Tour boats from Canada bring thousands of passengers to the island every year…and the island is in the USA.

This is another borrowed photo… Ours came out too blurry to use.  This is the Boldt Castle Yacht House.  It’s located on Wellesley Island, just across the channel from Heart Island and the Castle.  To say that it is huge is an understatement!  The Building is 64’ high and it’s inside boat slips are 128’ long.

Why such a big ‘boathouse’?  Well, it’s known that George Boldt owned over 60 boats in his lifetime.  When his estate was settled in 1917, his inventory totaled 47 ‘boats’, ranging from skiffs to large motor yachts.  The photo shown above gives you a feeling of the size and capacity of the boathouse.  In the background you can see the, 63’ Steam Yacht Kestrel.  It was donated to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority in 2009.  Many of the boats on display in the Boldt Castle Yacht House are ‘on loan’ from the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton New York.

Bolt Castle is open for visitors from mid-May until the end of September.  For further information, call 800-847-5263 or visit the official website at  The Yacht House requires a separate or add-on ticket.  Shuttle boats regularly move back and forth between Heart Island and the Yacht House or the Yacht House can be accessed from Wellesley Island.
Bolt Castle and Love Island can be reached via any of the following tour operators: from Alexandria Bay New York -; from Clayton New York -; from Gananoque, Ontario Canada -; or from Rockport, Ontario Canada -
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. After one of your previous posts, I looked around the area on Google Earth and found this place, but didn't realized it was unfinished. Must be nice to be so wealthy you could just walk away from this.