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The St. Lawrence River Heritage Trail: A Tour through Time


Dennis and I were privileged to be on the first tour of the newly formed St. Lawrence River Heritage Trail. On five evenings in May, June and July, we visited the seven museums that make up the trail. After the tours, the group gathered at a restaurant for dinner and discussions, giving us the chance to enjoy a variety of local restaurants as well.

The tours were all informative. The seven museums possess a broad spectrum of historical roots and their exhibits include artifacts and wonderful displays specific to their own location, as well as to the River region. Even when the museums presented similar material, they approached it in unique ways. A decoy collector will make a new discovery at each stop. The priceless curios of Thousand Islands memorabilia are part of nearly every collection and would bring increasing amazement to the avid collector.

 

The seven museums joined together to form the St. Lawrence River Heritage Trail this winter. The Trail begins (or ends) at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Cape Vincent and extends to the Morristown Gateway museum in Morristown NY. The participating museums, all of which are free to the public, are the Cape Vincent Historical Museum, the Tibbets Point Lighthouse, the Thousand Islands Museum, the Cornwall Brothers Store Museum, the Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum, the Hammond Museum, and the Morristown Gateway Museum.

The trail will allow the museums to present a cohesive and multi-dimensional retrospect into the past. They plan to collaborate on a variety of events and exhibits while highlighting the opportunity for guests to visit all seven venues in a short period of time, such as a day or weekend. Together, the museums hope to increase attendance, boost tourism and bring in local business as visitors explore the shared heritage of our beautiful region.

 

The St. Lawrence River Museum Trail is currently featured on the Motorcycle Touring Map. This guide lists lodging, restaurants, highways and points of interest in the Thousand Islands and Adirondacks, from Syracuse to Vermont. The website for each museum has links with additional information to travelers seeking activities and sites of interest within the Thousand Islands area.

Being free, all of the museums rely on donations. We encourage everyone to take their own tour.  Look for the Trail in the Motorcycle Tour Map available at each site, as well as local Chamber of Commerce offices and Visitor Centers.

The St. Lawrence River Heritage Trail may also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SLRHT7/?fref=ts    – check it out and please “like” us!

Gateway Museum, Morristown, NY

Our northern-most affiliate, Gateway Museum, is located at 309 Main Street in Morristown, NY. The Gateway Museum provides a full summer of concerts, lectures, classes and displays for the residents of Morristown. The building that houses the Gateway Museum was built in 1910, by the Comstock family as a community center for their employees at their factory, Dr. Morse’s Indian Root Pills. Once a thriving township with multiple factories and businesses, the town has changed, but is still an unpolished gem in the North Country.

Website: www.morristowngatewaymuseum.org/index.html       Phone: 315-375-4910

The Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum, located at 4 Church St. Chippewa Bay, NY. 

The Museum is the next stop if you are coming from the north. Allan Newell, creator of the Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum, took two years to renovate the former house of worship into a maritime museum, but it's taken him a lifetime to collect the various antique St. Lawrence skiffs and canoes, a J. Henry Rushton rowboat and other artifacts that once were daily fixtures on the River. Among the displays are a collection of navigational lights, vintage boat motors, old Ogdensburg stoneware and hand-painted mini-paddles once sold as souvenirs in River communities.  

Website:  www.chipbaymm.org      Phone:  315-324-6725  Private tours by appointment:  413-281-6272

The Hammond Museum, 1 North Main Street, Hammond, NY. 

Just 3.5 miles east of The Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum is the Hammond Museum.  Hammond Museum, part of a Scottish heritage community, has six buildings, including a furnished replica of a stone house, a barn, carriage shed and a working blacksmith shop.  The main museum boasts a hand crafted wooden model collection, local artifacts, clothing, photos, scrapbooks and family genealogies.

Website: www.thehammondmuseum.org              Phone: 315-324-6628

Alexandria Township Historical Society and Cornwall Brothers Store Museum. Located on the River at 36 Market Street, Alexandria Bay NY.

The Cornwall Brothers Store Museum is owned and operated by the Alexandria Township Historical Society.  Located at 36 Market Street in Alexandria Bay on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the 1866 historic stone building celebrated its Sesquicentennial anniversary during the summer season.  Exhibits on the first floor include “Rediscovering Fitzgerald and Lee”, a pictorial history of Alexandria Bay’s renown boat builders, a time line of the Cornwall Family history and ‘Round the Houses Races”, the story of the elite group of ARCA car racing enthusiasts who gained national attention during the races held on village streets from 1936-1940.  The second floor of the museum showcases a variety of exhibits depicting life during the early years in the Thousand Islands. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9-5, and Sunday from 12-5 until Labor Day.  From Labor Day through Columbus Day it will be open Wednesday- Saturday, 9-5, and Sunday 12-5.

Website:  www.alexandriahistorical.com    Phone:  315-482-4586

Thousand Islands Museum “The History Place” is located at 312 James Street, Clayton, NY.

The first floor contains a gallery of historical exhibits including a one-room schoolhouse. This year’s featured display is a collection of wedding dresses dating from the early 1800s through the 1960s. Also on the first floor is a large Research Library. The second floor houses vintage decoys including Sam Denny decoys, the Muskie Hall of Fame and a display by the local diving club containing artifacts taken from the river as well as a video display of the shipwrecks in the Clayton area. Stop by to visit and be prepared to stay awhile. You have discovered one of the area’s best kept secrets.

Website: www.timuseum.org              Phone:  315-686-5794
Cape Vincent Historical Museum, Located at 175 North James Street,            Cape Vincent, NY.

Following the River south toward Lake Ontario, in the quaint town of Cape Vincent, you will find the Cape Vincent Historical Museum.  Cape Vincent's history is brilliantly displayed here.  The building, which is one of the oldest in the village, housed the soldiers of the War of 1812.  Handicapped accessible. Collection includes artifacts, scrapbooks, obituaries, marriage files and records.

Website: www.capevincent.org/history           Phone: 315-654- 4400
Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, Located at 33435 County Route 6, Cape            Vincent, NY. 

No visit to Cape Vincent is complete without a visit to the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.  Built in 1827, the Lighthouse features the only original working Fresnel lens in Lake Ontario.  A telescope provides visitors an opportunity to survey Lake Ontario and the River.

Website: www.capevincent.org/lighthouse/lighthouse_001.htm  Phone:  315-654-2700

 

By Kathi McCarthy

Kathi  McCarthy, and her husband Dennis, are active members of the Thousand islands diving community and are the owners of Blue Ledge System Inc. a local publishing house.  One book, edited by Kathi,  is a reprint of the The Old Fort: Carleton Island in the Revolution, originally published in 1889 and written by “Carleton” alias Major James H. Durham. To see a TI Life profile of this very industrious couple, please see our March 2011 article, Kathi and Dennis McCarthy’s Discoveries …  You can search both Dennis and Kathi’s McCarthy for their many popular TI Life articles.

  • Seven North Country Museums Tour

    Seven North Country Museums Tour

  • Thousand Islands Museum Display

    Thousand Islands Museum Display

  • Cornwall Bros Decoy Display

    Cornwall Bros Decoy Display

  • First Floor Display, Cornwall Bros. Store, Alex Bay

    First Floor Display, Cornwall Bros. Store, Alex Bay

  • Cornwall Bros Store 2nd Floor Display.

    Cornwall Bros Store 2nd Floor Display.

  • Hammond Museum Carriage House

    Hammond Museum Carriage House

  • Hammond Museum BarnPG

    Hammond Museum BarnPG

  • Hammond Museum Blacksmith Shop

    Hammond Museum Blacksmith Shop

  • Inside Hammond Blacksmith Shop

    Inside Hammond Blacksmith Shop

  • Hammond Museum display

    Hammond Museum display

  • Tibbetts Point Lighthouse's working Fresnel Lens

    Tibbetts Point Lighthouse's working Fresnel Lens

  • 1910 Tibbets Point Lighthouse Postcard

    1910 Tibbets Point Lighthouse Postcard

  • Morristown Gateway Museum Cards

    Morristown Gateway Museum Cards

 

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