thousand islands on the scenic seaway trail

Day 15 – Sights along the Seaway Trail Part 3

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Day 15 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

I got a late start this morning as I was up too late working on google maps trying to track my road trip. I didn’t succeed…bummer!  I’ll try to figure something else out. Anyway, for our third day on the scenic Seaway Trail, Scout, Petey and I continued northeast. We made our first stop of the day at Southwick Beach State Park on the coast of Lake Ontario. The beach displayed a “No Dogs Allowed” sing, so that settled that.  There were a couple of trails that led to the adjacent Lakeview Wildlife Management Area. But given it had rained for the last 18 hours straight, from a sprinkle to a downpour, I skipped the mud and continued Sackets Harbor.

Sackets Harbor

Sackets Harbor was used as a naval base from 1808 until the 1940’s.  During the War of 1812, the British tried to capture it, but failed.  Scout, Petey, and I walked around the battle field during one of the only sunny moments of the day (in hindsight I should have enjoyed it more) and then drove a few blocks to see Madison Barracks where Ulysses S. Grant was stationed in the 1830’s.  Currently, it is operated as an apartment building; a single bedroom starts at $780/month.

Cape Vincent

One place on the Seaway Trail that I really wanted to visit today was Cape Vincent.  Cape Vincent is located at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It is home to the 1827 Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed, and the pursuing sprinkle prompted brief visit.

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse on the scenic Seaway Trail

Thousand Islands International Bridge

After our short stroll around the lighthouse, we continued toward the Thousand Islands region.  What a beautiful area! The view from the 100-foot-high Thousands Islands International Bridge was breathtaking.  I’m glad I paid $2.50 just to cross it and come back!  I wish I could have stopped at the top of its steep arch. 

Thousand Islands International Bridge

Boldt Castle

The Thousand Islands region has more like 1,800 islands rather than 1,000, and they come in all sizes.  Some have only a few trees, while others are home to mansions and even castles.  I had planned to take a boat tour to Heart Island to visit the Boldt Castle, a replica of the Rhine. But a 2 ½ hours boat ride in the rain didn’t excite me. Additionally, the castle tour was to take a minimum of half a day.  I guess I’ll just have to go visit the Rhine. Actually, I would enjoy touring the castle, as it was built by George Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in which I’ve stayed. 

Cornwall Brothers Store

While in the Thousand Islands region, I also tried visiting the Cornwall Brothers Store which according to Reader’s Digest displays a plethora of Americana. Since my mom is a big collector, she would have appreciated my visit. Unfortunately, the museum was closed.  In fact, many of the historic places on the scenic Seaway Trail are only open from Wednesday to Sunday, so if you are ever planning a visit exclude Monday and Tuesday unless you are going to the beach!

Storm on the Scenic Seaway Trail

The Seaway Trail continues on to Ogdensburg and is blessed with some of the most magnificent scenery I have ever seen.  Inlets of the river snaked like canals through glistening, golden wheat fields damp from the morning rain while being surrounded by vibrant reds and oranges of the turning leaves.  I was so taken by one spot, I began to pull off the side of the road in the drizzle just to take a photo. 

Many others must have felt the same way as it was the only part of the scenic Seaway Trail that had signs posted every 10 yards, “No Parking Anytime”.  Given the rain, the curvy road, and the fact that I’m carrying a 38 special (for my safety) in a “No Tolerance for Guns State”, I complied with the street signs.

Shortly after I obeyed the law, which now I regret, the Emergency Alert System sounded on the radio warning of severe thunderstorms with 60 mph winds.  EAS warned, Take cover immediately. Do not wait until you hear thunder as the storm system does not contain much lightning.”

The warning was for eastern Jefferson County.  Unfortunately, I had no idea what county I was in! I wondered if I should drive faster to out run the storm or if I should slow down as to not drive right into it.  Eventually I learned the storm was just behind me as I followed the Seaway Trail in the drizzle to Ogdensburg. I reached safety at the Frederic Remington Art Museum 30 minutes before the monsoon hit.

Frederic Remington Art Museum

I visited the Frederic Remington Art Museum because my dad is a fan of the bronzes.  The museum is located in the mansion once owned by Remington’s widow.  The collection includes, but is not limited to bronzes, water colors, oil paintings, and items owned and used by Remington.  While there were several amazing pieces, I only have so much space to allot to each part of my blog, so I’ve highlighted one piece, The Bronco Buster

According to the museum’s pamphlet, The Bronco Buster was the first of Remington’s Bronzes.  Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co., NY used a sand cast bronze to produce 64 of this subject beginning in 1895.  Thereafter, Remington used the Roman Bronze Work, NY that employed the wax casting process. Remington preferred the wax casting process because of the detail it retained from the clay model to the bronze, and because he could make changes with each cast.

bronze at the frederic remington art museum

Just as I was planning to leave the museum, the storm grew even stronger. As a result, Ray (one of the museum’s curators) showed me around another part of the historic home which is only available for corporate event and private functions. I felt honored to take a short tour in the “off limits” section which intricate woodwork, decorative paint, and fancy fireplaces. Fortunately, this portion of the home was closer to VANilla, so when the downpour slowed to a drizzle for 30 seconds, I made a dash to my car.

fireplace at the frederic remington art museum

1809 Customs House

After my visit to the museum, clearly the weather precluded me from taking the walking tour that describes the Battle of Ogdensburg during the War of 1812, but did drive by the 1809 Customs House.  Originally a French fort, it is the oldest federal government building still in use in the United States of America.  Judging from all the Border Patrol Tahoes parked outside the building, I presume the Border Patrol offices are inside.

1809 customs house on the scenic seaway trail

Dwight D Eisenhower Lock

While VANilla’s wipers were at full speed, VANilla’s speedometer read well below the speed limit.  I crept along the scenic Seaway Trail and exited at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock.  As luck would have it, I entered the tunnel below the lock just as a ship passed overhead.  Reader’s Digest suggests that it is “an unnerving experience”, and it sort of was!   

Scout, Petey, and I hung out in the overlook area along with a handful of other cars and watched the ship maneuver into the lock, lower 42 feet, and exit in 7 minutes.  During this time, it stopped raining!! 

Cheryl and Jim got out of their car, and so did I.  Cheryl and Jim are on a two week trip from Indianapolis.  They had come from Niagara Falls and were on their way to Boston while spending a few nights around the Lake Placid area. They said they were planning on going to Arizona in March. Who knows, maybe I will run into them again. 

Stranger things have happened. I met a guy from San Francisco in Cusco, Peru over Labor Day in 2009 and then ran into him again on a 20 seat plane in the middle of the Serengeti on Labor Day weekend a year later.

Robert Moses State Park – Thousand Islands

As we watched the ship drop, I took a picture toward the southwest of sunny skies and picture toward the northeast of the black clouds.  Fortunately, I was headed southeast to Saranac Lake.  In the meantime, while the sun was out, I took a short drive through Robert Moses State Park – Thousand Islands. I saw three different flocks of turkeys, several geese, the Moses Saunders Power Dam, and a cool bridge.

Robert Moses State Park- Thousand Islands on the scenic Seaway Trail

After a brief visit to the park, I made my way to Saranac Lake and Adirondack Park. The foliage along the way was beginning to pop with color. Red, orange, and yellow leaves outweighed the green.  While I was enjoying the color, I soon realized I was in the middle of nowhere, without cell service, and with no campgrounds in view.  Had I made the right decision?  Though limited, I finally found a spot in the dark! ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

4 thoughts on “Day 15 – Sights along the Seaway Trail Part 3

  1. OMG — lots of rain!

    I do t know if you will read this prior to leaving the Lake Saranac area, but if you do you should try to drive by The Point — one of our favorite places. It was originally Rockefeller’s summer camp. It’s pretty cool!

    What a trip to be going through the tunnel below the lock while a ship was overhead!

    Sounds like another fascinating day with breathtaking views!

    Take care…safe travels…xo’s Mom

  2. Yes, it is at Lake Saranac and there should be signs. Hopefully, you will have Internet service and you can google it. Maybe that would help in locating it. I hope you get to see it. Saranac Lake is beautiful. Lake Placid is nice too.
    You’re in beautiful country!

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