Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boldt Castle, A Mediocre Way To Spend A Summer Afternoon.

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The Good: Well, it IS a castle in the U.S.!
The Bad: Graffiti all over, Pricey for what you get, Little historical/cultural value
The Basics: An eccentric millionaire’s dilapidated attempt to make a castle on the St. Lawrence River, Boldt Castle is a tourist trap with little redeeming value.

Tonight’s writing challenge for me is to take a few minutes to recall a place that left very little impression upon me. Early in dating the person who would eventually become my ex-wife, my mother, partner and I went on a day trip as part of a “get to know you” to Boldt Castle. Because we live relatively close to Boldt Castle, this was a day trip for us; I’d hate to think about people who actually trek to New York State just for this underwhelming experience.

Boldt Castle – and the adjacent yacht house – are located in Alexandria Bay in New York, which is pretty close to the New York/Canada border. Alexandria Bay is a tourist town and a port of entry to the U.S. (or Canada) and it is located in the northern central portion of New York State. Boldt Castle is very easy to find as one simply takes Interstate 81 North and enters Alexandria Bay. From Route 81, there are signs for Boldt Castle. One must park at an appropriate terminal (these are what signs in Alexandria Bay lead visitors to) and ride a ferry to Boldt Castle.

To get to Boldt Castle, one has to ferry ride and the ferry prices are dependent upon which tour group one leaves with. We went with Uncle Sam’s Boat Tours because there was a discounted ride price with a soda can at the time. The boat ride takes about half an hour and it was very much designed for tourists. Upon reaching Boldt Castle – it is a small island – we shelled out $7.00 for the tour.

The tour of Boldt Castle consisted of the park guide telling us of the history of Boldt Castle in bored tones as we walked through the medium-sized castle (the Europeans who were part of our tour group looked utterly unimpressed). The history, which is retold adequately on the website of the castle, is basically one of a rich person throwing a lot of money at the project, stopping it when his love died and letting it fall into ruin before a historical society decided to make people pay for guided tours of the property.

The walk involves going up and down stone stairs and there are much more inspired castles to visit in the world. The highlight of the tour has to be reaching the peak of the tower of the castle which affords the visitor an amazing view of the Bay and the Thousand Islands.

Unfortunately, Boldt Castle has fallen into serious disrepair and the money one spends touring the castle makes one feel cheated when virtually every room on the tour has graffiti from visitors. Sure, Alex may have visited Boldt Castle, but why should I pay to see that he did?! The tour lasts about half an hour and it seems a bit pricey for so little.

There was no gift shop, nor were there any places to eat at Boldt Castle when we visited.

Given that the stone and wood structure has little historical significance (ooh, eccentric millionaire spends money!), and is in disrepair, Boldt Castle is an overpriced attraction in Alexandria Bay. Alexandria Bay has quaint stores, free beaches and is beautifully located at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River; there is no need to spend money on something that is less thrilling than the city offers for free.

For other park reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Hoover Dam National Park
Green Lakes State Park
Mount Rushmore National Park


For other travel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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