Clayton (New York)

Clayton (pop 2,300) and Alexandria Bay (pop. 1,078) are small villages in northern New York which, along with Cape Vincent (pop 726) serve as US points of access to the Thousand Islands.


The original residents of this area were Algonquian and Onondaga native tribes, which were followed by Iroquois and by French explorers. US permanent settlement in the area began in the early to mid 1800's, years after the end of the War of 1812 which had been waged at points as local as Sackets Harbor and Gananoque. By 1873, the Clayton Division of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad (RW&O, later part of the New York Central) was carrying passengers and freight to Clayton's station and ferry terminal (now Frink Park) from New York City and Boston. At one point, five hotels on different islands were served by steamships based in Clayton. New York's millionaires used the 1000 Islands as their summer playground, building opulent structures such as Singer Castle and Boldt Castle (bankrolled by Singer sewing machine and Waldorf-Astoria hotel barons, respectively). Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in attendance for the 1938 opening of a magnificent international bridge across the St. Lawrence River, which landed at the midpoint of the (then under construction) 1000 Islands Parkway in Canada.

The last passenger train ran in 1951; the tracks to Clayton were removed after the last freight train in 1972. Frink Park now serves as a public venue for performances. Tour boats to Boldt Castle and the 1000 Islands depart seasonally from both Alexandria Bay and Clayton. An international car ferry runs seasonally from Wolfe Island (Ontario) to Cape Vincent.

Get in

From Watertown and Syracuse, Interstate 81 northbound leads to the 1000 Islands bridge at Fishers Landing, between Clayton and Alexandria Bay. NY 12 follows the river east-west from Morristown to Clayton; NY 12E continues to Cape Vincent.

The region is accessible by cruising on small craft from the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The closest scheduled bus and air service is in Watertown (IATA: ART). The closest Amtrak station is in Syracuse.

Get around

By boat









Go next

Routes through Clayton

Ends at Thousand Islands  N  S  Watertown Syracuse
END at NY37 Morristown  N  S  Watertown Binghamton

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