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If you doubt New York State is one of the most beautiful states in the country, you haven’t been to the Thousand Islands to bolster your belief. The sad thing about living anywhere is that people don’t seem to visit the places of interest within their reach. We always go to Florida, Yosemite or North Carolina. We don’t always want to spend money or time to go somewhere within our own borders. Although, if the parents visit us, we will go for a trip to Niagara Falls.

Why is that? People in all states express the same tendency.

Thanks to a family wedding, I was in the Thousand Islands last weekend. Our parents rented an island for their daughter’s wedding, complete with a giant house with a big porch and docks and hammocks and lots of room to run around.

It may sound impressive – and I’m not going to argue – but when you consider that there are more than a thousand islands that ebb and flow in the St. Lawrence River, it’s a little less impressive. There are many small islands with houses on them. And back then, you could get one pretty cheap.

It’s an interesting story how there have been over a thousand islands in this river. Glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, scraping away sediment and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain range. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its way to the Atlantic Ocean, 1000 Peaks became the 1000 Islands.

I like the sound of 1000 peaks, don’t you? But the truth is the Thousand Islands really should have been named “Nearly 2000 islands.”

There are, quite unbelievably, over 1,800 islands that mark the border between the United States and Canada in the St. Lawrence River. To be officially considered an island in the Thousand Islands, the land must have at least one square foot of land above water and support at least one tree. With over 1,800 islands, there are plenty of eligible islands and plenty of great stories to tell.

Long before Europeans settled there, the Iroquois and Algonquin Indians spent their summer months fishing and hunting there. Tradition has it that the god Manitou said to the Indians: “I’ll give you heaven, if you stop fighting.” According to legend, the Indians did not stop fighting so Manitou put paradise in a bag and threw it on the horizon. The bag broke and a thousand pieces fell into the St. Lawrence River, creating the Thousand Islands.

Shortly after the Civil War, the islands’ popularity increased due to an improved transportation system. Sportsmen and wealthy gentlemen from major American cities wanted a piece of paradise there, because money can certainly buy you beauty. Alexandria Bay’s social era began when famous railroader George Pullman invited General Grant (then a candidate for President of the United States) to visit his native island. The accompanying media helped bring national attention to the Alexandria Bay area. Thus began the golden age in the region, when wealthy industrialists arrived and built stunning mansions on many islands and claimed all this beauty as their own.

But enough facts. The real reason to visit the Thousand Islands is that the area is full of beautiful scenery and the romance of a better day. It’s a slow-paced place, where you can spend your day on a large tour boat zipping among the many islands admiring mansions and castles, or shopping in one of the two shore towns. of the lake that dot the bay, or sitting on your hotel balcony overlooking the river and taking in the view. It’s not a place for overly adventurous plans, like rock climbing or zip-lining, although fishing and swimming are common. Truly, the best things to do out there require little of you. You can visit a museum of vintage boats, rent a canoe or bike, order seafood at a quaint little restaurant, or if you really need a little more zip in your day, there are outfits for rafting where you can get your cry. on.

It’s really exciting to see the oil tankers and huge freighters passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway. You could spend an entire day doing just that.

And you also have to taste the infamous Thousand Islands dressing. There are plenty of reasons to visit, and the dressing is just one of them. The best time to go? Summer or fall. Until what point? Less than five hours. It’s just north of Syracuse.



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