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Boldt Castle
Jul 18th, 2009 by Tom

Sdie Trip Summary

Type  Castle
Build  Cut stone, concrete, marble, wood, brass
Location

 Brockville, between Rockport Ontario, and Alexandria Bay, New York

Depth   very shallow
Length   Biggish
Built  construction started in 1900, continued to 1904 before stopping and was restarted in 1977 and is on-going
Sank  Not likely
Access  Boat
Experience Level  Everyone
Orientation

 Upright

The story is a tragic tale of love and loss. In 1900 the proprietor of New York’s opulent Waldorf Astoria Hotel, George Boldt, started building a castle for his wife, the love of his life, Louise. The Boldt’s and their children spent four summers living in the Alster Tower, one of the first buildings to be completed as workers continued their efforts on the 120 room monument of love which included a power generating station, drawbridge, playhouse, clock tower, Italian garden, elevator, gazebo, bowling alley, billiard room, hennery, underground tunnels and the best of everything money could buy.

Then in 1904 Louise passed away suddenly and George sent a telegram that all construction was to stop immediately. The 300 workers put down their tools and the unfinished structures commenced 73 years of deterioration. Roofs collapsed, walls crumbled, and vandals helped speed the decay to the point it was about to be condemned for being too dangerous even though it was unoccupied. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased the property from the US government for $1 and set about investing many millions in restoration efforts that will continue for years to come.

It’s hard to imagine the destruction when you enter the first floor. Perfect walls, immaculate flooring, pristine woodwork and gleaming brass are everywhere. It’s only once you reach the upper levels of the six storey castle where they have preserved what some of the rooms were like before restoration began, with large photos showing how close it was to all being demolished.

If you’re a diver and you have visited the wrecks around Rockport then you’re already very familiar with Boldt Castle since this is where the boats come to have passengers clear customs during the summer in the post-9-11 era.

A number of ferry boats do nothing but take people across to the castle, which was originally designed as a summer home. Be warned, this place is to “summer homes” what climbing Mount Everest is to “casual Sunday walks”.  It’s gorgeous, huge, and totally unfair unless you have a couple of your own collecting dust somewhere just as nice. Built on five acre Heart Island, hearts abound throughout the structure from outdoor planters to wrought iron and masonry work. Across a short stretch of river is the boat house located on Wellesley Island, designed to hold three yachts including tall masted sailing vessels based on the size of the doors. The largest of the slips is 128’ long and 64’ tall.

The castle has been visited by over five million guests since being taken over by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, including 750 weddings, and is well worth your visit during their open season from May through October. More information can be found at their gorgeous website.

 

Islander
Jul 18th, 2009 by Tom

Wreck Summary

Type  Shipwreck
Build  Wooden sidewheel steamer
Location

 Alexandria Bay, New York

Depth  40 feet
Length  125 feet
Built  1871
Sank  1909
Access  Shore
Experience Level  Novice
Orientation

 Upright on starboard side

The Islander is the kind of wreck most people will do once and consider that enough - typical of most ships that burned before sinking. There is nothing truly spectacular here but it could be worth seeing once.

A 60′ section of the bow and mid-section remains, containing the engine and some frames, but little else. Divers have collected much of the broken pottery, plates, bottles and shoes that remain, and created a pile on the starboard side towards the back of what remains.

 

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