Boldt and Singer castles have lured tourists to the Thousand Islands region of Northern New York for many years.
But high waters along the St. Lawrence River caused by heavy precipitation in both 2017 and this past year posed challenges for these sites. Despite the problems resulting from extensive flooding, Boldt and Singer castles had strong attendance showings for this season.
“Singer Castle, the 116-year-old former hunting retreat on Dark Island for Frederick G. Bourne, fifth president of Singer Sewing Machine Co., experienced its second best season for attendance with 23,920 visitors, said operations manager Chris Henry. Visitation this year only trailed the number of guests in 2016, which was 26,145,” according to a story published Monday by the Watertown Daily Times. “Boldt Castle, the six-story namesake of hotelier George C. Boldt on Heart Island, and Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island, home to the 1892 steam yacht the Kestrel and a variety of antique wooden boats, attracted a combined 195,322 guests. The Yacht House alone drew 7,629 visitors. This year marked the seventh best turnout for Boldt facilities, although visitation was down from last year.
“The water levels of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario reached record breaking heights this spring and summer, at one point surpassing their historic average by about three feet,” the story reported. “Both castles faced similar adversities in 2017, the last time both bodies of water experienced record-high levels, and have since bolstered their defenses against inundation.”
Brian Salisbury, director of facilities, operations and maintenance for Boldt Castle, described 2019 as a “really good year” for the site. Part of the success for both sites was the flexibility those who oversee them exhibited in dealing with the high-water levels.
“Mr. Salisbury said Boldt Castle staff built platforms atop the docks to elevate them, relocated the U.S. Customs and Border Protection booth so the castle could continue welcoming Canadian boat tours and moved some food concession services. The Yacht House, however, was closed until Aug. 10 due to the high waters, which Mr. Salisbury said hurt attendance,” according to the story. “Singer Castle staff reconfigured its dockage, particularly moving the floating docks from the north side of Dark Island to the south side, Mr. Henry said. Workers also set up a temporary gift shop, raised the height of their hard dock and created an elevated walkway for visitors. Efforts from staff at both regal attractions proved fruitful because both welcomed more guests into their halls than in 2017. Singer Castle also attracted more visitors this year than last year.”
A huge factor in Boldt and Singer castles having good seasons is the ongoing demand to visit these sites. They continued to attract tourists this year in spite of the high waters.
This reflects well on the people who come to these cherished destinations. They understand that visiting the castles will be worth their time, even in the face of record high waters.
We also should commend everyone who maintains the sites for their resiliency this year. They found ways to adjust to the difficult circumstances and make sure their visitors enjoyed their experience. In addition, all those involved in marketing the Thousand Islands region deserve praise for finding ways to keep people coming even with the water problems.
Boldt and Singer castles will remain popular attractions for decades to come. It’s good to know they are overseen by individuals who understand what tourists appreciate most about them and how to overcome trying environmental conditions when it’s necessary.