A 1000 Islands cruise is a great getaway. The vessels have changed over the years, but the fun hasn’t. I’ve posted before about my fascination with the old American Boat Line 1000 Islands tour boats: Adonis, Venus, and Neptune. The former was the first double decker in the line, made of wood, some confirmation that she was built on a PT boat hull, and downright nice looking! Recently, I got in touch with Tom (Twitter handle @tbogie52), who answered a few 1000 Islands trivia questions I tweeted, and found out he was a crewman for one season on the original Adonis. So we got to trading questions and answers, and I learned a few new things about the Adonis. Let me share them with you: (more…)
‘Boats from 1960’s Calumet Island’ Category
October 1, 2016 by Mike
January 26, 2014 by Mike
In the 60’s, if you kept a boat at the Calumet Island Marina, the best way to get there from Clayton was to call Rollo Weeks, the island caretaker, and let him know you were ready for transport! A few minutes later, around the end of the island he’d come in his Danish Coronet! What’s that, you ask? A sturdy, fiberglass hulled boat that took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. Many a weekend he’d come and go through the white caps, always making his appointed rounds. You may recall this fine vessel from a previous post:
Let’s look a little deeper, though – what is a Danish Coronet? It was one among many variants built in Denmark by Botved Boats from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. The Calumet Island Coronet appears to be either a 16 foot convertible or, more likely, the 18 foot hard top seen at the bottom of the ad here.
Can you add more to this? If you know anything about the Coronet Boats, and can add some detail about the one used at Calumet Island Marina, leave a comment below!
March 7, 2013 by Mike
Boating in the 1000 Islands is timeless. I remember it from the boyhood vantage point of the 1960’s when I spent the summers at Calumet Island Marina, Clayton, NY, and Alexandria Bay, NY. I can still hear the sounds and see the sights in my head. I haven’t been back in maybe 14 years, but I imagine today it’s a lot like it was then. So what’s different? Who out there remembers the 1000 Islands from the 60’s and can compare it to today?
Let me take a stab at it, without the benefit of first-hand knowledge.
Obviously Calumet Island is different. From it’s glorious heyday, complete with castle and service harbor, to the 60’s marina, to today as a private residence, Calumet has a beauty and charm all it’s own. Here’s a photo from a seaplane in 1967, and you can see how many trees it had back then. The castle ruins were still plentiful and provided quite a sight-seeing adventure for my brother and I, though there was no way to get safely close. I visited in the early 2000’s and it was very clean and for the first time in my life I was able to see the turret and stairs facing the Clayton side that was completely overgrown in the 60’s. The Calumet harbor was filled with boats, so many that “finger docks” sprung out from the stone walkways to accommodate all the customers. Today none of those era remain, though a few new ones have sprouted according to photo’s I’ve seen.
Here’s a mystery and a puzzler – why was the Calumet Island Skiff House roof and the taxi boat painted orange? We called it “Calumet Orange” in our days there during the 1960’s for lack of a better term. Here’s what I think: advertising. Calumet Island was a marina back then and a business needs to attract proper attention. If you looked across the river from Clayton, there was no mistaking that orange roof! The island itself is beautiful to look at, but that glint of orange would surely draw your eye and make you ask “Why? What’s over there?” The answer was “a marina, a nice place to keep your boat”. A short while into the 60’s the marina’s small taxi boat got a hull of the same color. I suspect for the same reason. It became a matching extension to the marina at Calumet Island. What do you think? If there’s another reason you know about, it would be interesting if you’d share it.
Clayton is different. To me, one of the big differences between then and now are the coal docks. As a kid, it was so neat to see the big ships close up while they took on coal for fuel. I can still hear the very unique sound of the coal as it dropped down the long chutes into the ship’s storage areas. Watching these behemoths maneuver to the mooring and deckhands securing the steel cables to the huge pilings and cleats left indelible images in my head. I’ve seen pictures of that part of Clayton today and it has certainly been spruced up since the coal docks went away. The adjacent town docks were configured a bit differently then, and the Golden Anchor restaurant sat above the side opposite the coal docks (and as I recall, the US Customs office). Occasionally, small single-deck wooden tour boats docked next to the Golden Anchor, I believe part of the Uncle Sam Boat Tours line. And far down the other river-side of town was McCormick’s restaurant, a period photo of which can be found in the Thousand Islands Life article in the References below, as well as Rice’s Marina where my father got his minnows for our weekly fishing trips to Grindstone Island.
Alexandria Bay? Well, that was a far-away destination to me! Every few summers my family would make the voyage there from Calumet Island. I remember how neat is was to pass under the 1000 Islands Bridge as cars passed overhead, seeing a hotel near where we docked (I believe it was the Edgewood Resort), and a western-themed family spot called “Adventure Town”. They had wild west shows and a train ride that included a “real” gold robbery! (You did not want to be the kid sitting on the bag of gold when the bad guys came a’ ridin’ in!) The link I had below has gone dead, but if you’re interested in Adventure Town, you can probably find a clip on YouTube.
In this old postcard, you can see the street-side view of McCormick’s Restaurant next to the old American Boat Line tourboat office. For more information on the American Boat Line and their 1000 Islands tours, see this post I wrote.
Now it’s your turn. How does it compare? What’s still there and what isn’t? Are boat operators any better or worse today than at that earlier period of time? Has anything changed significantly in the past few decades? What’s your favorite timeless spot? Leave a comment below and share your recollections of the area both past and present. It’ll be fun!
- Adventure Town
- McCormick’s restaurant
July 15, 2012 by Mike
The Calumet Island Ferry Boat
How do you get to your family’s boat if you are in Clayton and the boat is at Calumet Island Marina? Oh, and it’s the 1960’s… Well, you call the marina and ask Rollo or Betty Weeks to come get you! Reliably week after summer week for years that’s what played out for families harbored at Calumet. The island used a Danish built Coronet and you could see it pop out of the right side of the island and speed across the river, docking in Clayton where the canon and loop driveway would meet the river. The Coronet was fiberglass over wood construction, very sturdy.
I recall one night we got to Clayton late and the wind had whipped the waves into whitecaps. When Rollo brought the boat to Clayton, occasionally the waves crested over the dock and we had no idea how he would get the boat near enough for us to load bags and get aboard. But he was a master and brought her alongside, timing everything just right and before long the line was slipped off the cleat and we were away! That was not the smoothest ride over to Calumet thanks to mother nature, but safely done!
That Coronet ran with various size engines over the years, mostly of the Gale line.
May 18, 2012 by Mike
You know, of course, from this blog that I spent years as a kid with my family on a steel boat at Calumet Island marina in the 60’s. That doesn’t mean, however, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of wooden boats. I did, and still do. Which is what leads me to an interesting crossing of paths recently. Bored one day, I was searching online for pictures of wooden boats, especially cabin cruisers. You know them – Chris Craft, Richardson, Penn Yan, Pacemaker, Owens and others of the era. Beautiful boats, beautiful in design and painstakingly crafted. The look endures today, even among scores of capable fiberglass and composite designs. Some fine examples of these classic wooden boats can be seen each year at antique boat gatherings such as the New England Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society’s Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show, and Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum Antique Boat Show & Auction. So as I scrolled through pictures and sites, I came across a listing for a “1940 Richardson Used Classic Wooden Boat For Sale” and that’s where I stopped. I gazed at the listing with photo, thinking “I remember boats like this in the 1000 Islands”. I looked further down the page to discover her name – “White Cap”. Something seemed very familiar. I visited a page in this site I had written years ago and looked down the list of boat names I remembered as a kid. There she was – the White Cap. Some 40 to 50 years later, this beautiful piece of history crossed my path again. I stared and drifted back – I can still picture Calumet Island marina as it was then, with so many families on so many boats on such a fine place at such a fine time. I don’t have many pictures of the island from back then, but in my head I can see the boats, recall many of the names, and now thanks to the internet can again see a boat built in the 40’s, remembered from the 60’s, that’s still around in 2012. My father’s boat, his steel boat, was surrounded by wooden boats at Calumet, like the White Cap, and it makes me happy to know that at least one of them is still around.