Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve Walleye Drop! Gifts for you (see details below)!

Happy New Year 2012 to you! I am accepting any interesting stories or photos regarding the Thousand Islands area or the St. Lawrence River that will help us get through this winter. Interesting stories from other parts of Upstate or Northern New York State (and nearby Canada) will be considered too, especially if it relates to river, lakes, castles or nature themes.

If I choose your story or photos to run here, while supplies last, you will win a brand-new 1GB USB Flash Drive, also known as a Thumb or Jump Drive. (Once per person, although your submissions are always welcome). It is a full gigabyte in capacity! Great for transferring data from computer to computer, or for storage. If you don't need a flash drive, ask me for my huge list of other free gifts available. (This offer may be discontinued at any time without notice). This blog concentrates on the area's two famous castles (Singer Castle and Boldt Castle), but the whole area is tied in together and therefore relevant. Please email submissions or questions to: mailbox [at] gold-mountain [dot] com (remember the dash), or send to P.O. Box 123, Jamesville NY 13078.

For our diehard fishing fans (and for anybody looking for something very unique), have you ever watched the New Year's Eve walleye fish drop in Port Clinton, OH at midnight on the web?  Or you can watch NewYork City's famous ball drop on your computer. Yes, its a wonderful life indeed!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

For your online Christmas celebration, here is an extraordinary site with all kinds of interesting links: Peggy's Christmas Place.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011 - Heroes Amoung Us

We have so many heroes among  us, so to put a face on it, I will focus on one among us. Pictured in this blog is Todd Torrance from central New York State. He served in the U.S. Army with Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I am using him to represent all of our veteran heroes: past, present and future. One day in Iraq he was on a security mission to protect the funeral procession for an Iraqi official. During this time his Humvee hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) which exploded his world. But let us hear it directly from him, as the New York Times featured a fascinating article by him which you can read by clicking here: New York Times, by Todd Torrance.

Above is pictured a tattoo on Todd's right shoulder, which dates his "alive date", the day he survived the road side bomb which took out his Humvee. Note the purple heart, and the 1/71 refers to his unit, the 1-71 Cavalry.

This aftermath of his alive date has culminated in having his date with Danielle, now his fiancĂ©e. If this were a movie, one could say this is the fitting ending to an amazing story, but alas, it is the beginning of great things to come for a survivor.

When I asked Todd to make a final statement for this blog, his final answer was to flash another tattoo for the camera. Click on his picture to see it larger. If the tat sounds familiar, you may also see it in 1 Thess. 5:24. 

In thanks to Todd and to all of our veterans, please view the following video, Thank you for my Freedom:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marjorie Bourne - A force to reckon with in speedboat racing during the early 1900s.

Marjorie Bourne, daughter of Commodore Frederick G. Bourne, won the above trophy in the 1911 Thousand Islands Yacht Club speedboat race. (Photo by Patty Mondore, copyright Gold-Mountain). Marjorie and her boat, called the Moike, are pictured below. The antique speedboat can still be seen today in Clayton's Antique Boat Museum in the Thousand Islands.

F.G. Bourne brought the Singer Sewing Machine/Manufacturing Company to its worldwide success. He also had built what is now called Singer Castle on Dark Island, a famous tourist destination spot. After his death, Marjorie owned the castle for many years.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New logo for Thousand Islands Regional Dock (Frink Park) in Clayton NY.

New Dock logo above, this just in from Michael Folsom:

Clayton, New York (October 17, 2011) – The ShipWatcher, in conjunction with the Village of Clayton, unveiled today a new marking for the Thousand Islands Regional Dock in downtown Clayton in an effort to begin promotion of the dock and village.

The Thousand Islands Regional Dock is located in downtown Clayton at Frink Park and has hosted a wide variety of vessels in recent years. This past summer alone the dock hosted two tall ships, two US Coast Guard Cutters, numerous yachts, as well as regular visiting tugs from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Looking ahead, the village hopes to attract small regional cruise ships. The 300-foot plus dock is intended for the use of large visiting vessels.

The Thousand Islands Regional Dock is a certified Port of Entry by the US Department of Homeland Security.

The new marking includes the iconic Calumet Island tower, which can be seen from the dock in Clayton; an anchor, which is a fixture in Frink Park; and rolling waves, which represent the St. Lawrence River. The logo concept was created by Michael Folsom and final design work was completed by

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ian Coristine's take on his fabulous "The Great Escape" photos of Singer Castle!

Ian Coristine pictured above with his ultralight airplane.

When this blog was on the tidal wave of breaking news regarding the filming of "The Great Escape" on Dark Island, I ran two exquisite photos taken by Ian Coristine (with his direct permission) of Singer Castle during that event. (Click here to see that blog again with those spectacular photos. Be sure to click on the photos to see them in larger format). Now, what follows is a dispatch direct from Dark Island which gives Ian's account of the event, telling us how he was able to capture such amazing shots of the castle.
As part of Singer Castle’s efforts to gather impressions from those people in our area of the 1000 Islands who assisted in the production and recording of the pilot of “The Great Escape” at the castle. We asked our friend Ian Corstine [of 1000 Islands Photo Art] who has taken many pictures of the castle to comment on the experience of photographing the castle while the television production was underway.  Two of his pictures one of the back of the castle and one of a cameraman were included with the initial press releases about the production. In response to our question about his experience, we received the following:

“Singer Castle is one of the 1000 Islands' most iconic landmarks so it was quite an honor to be invited to photograph it the only time in its 107 year history that it has been lit in this way. The castle's power supply doesn't have sufficient power to do this. It required a special generator truck from Boston to feed the battery of lights and I had just a single evening to try to capture it.

The shot of the rear of the castle, taken from the former tennis court, was one of several frames captured from that angle, but only this image shows the entire lawn glowing emerald green, providing a very unusual foreground for a night shot.

A crew member was slowly sweeping the lower spotlight to illuminate a small eight-foot, moving circle for a videographer. Because the darkness required the camera's shutter to remain open for 35 seconds, only the portions of lawn where it had passed showed as green in the images, with the remainder in deep shadow. Purely by luck, in this single frame only, the spotlight happened to sweep the entire lawn during the camera's exposure.

Moments after this image, I set up on the south side of the castle for what is my favorite-ever Singer shot. The castle's size is not as apparent in this image, but with it standing tall on the bluff, it gives a real sense of majesty - Fantasyland, which I find very compelling and fully in keeping with the grandeur of the Gilded Age. Not a minute after this shot, the lights suddenly dimmed and went out. The generator had failed and would not be operational again that night. I would not get another chance. 

Timing is everything in life.  I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to capture the river so low from above from my plane in the last years before the post 9/11 fears made it impossible to continue shooting from this perspective. I feel the same way about these two shots of Singer Castle, the only time in its existence the opportunity has presented itself, almost certainly never to occur again.”
Above dispatch received direct from Dark Island's Jean Papke, Administrative Assistant to Singer Castle's President, Tom Weldon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This is a double-header blog on the exciting "The Great Escape" reality show filmed on Dark Island!

First, I have an excellent video news clip from YNN which interviews several notables from Singer Castle and local business representatives regarding the new reality show called The Great Escape which is causing a so much buzz in the Thousand Islands (as noted in my previous blog).

The pilot episode is from the mega-producers, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, who also produced The Amazing Race. Short interviews include the Singer Castle's President, Tom Weldon, as well as the noted historian Judy Keeler. Larry Foster of Schermerhorn Harbor also is interviewed in the news clip. The news video only runs for 2 minutes, so be sure to check it out by clicking on: YNN News clip.
Second, what follows is a news release and photo received direct from Dark Island filling in more details about what happened behind the scenes during the filming of The Great Escape.


Behind the Scenes:  
 Area Captains Assist in Staging the Great Escape

More than two weeks of concentrated effort went into the staging and production of the pilot for “The Great Escape” at Singer Castle.  Several area businesses and Captains were involved in providing support for both the contestants and the many crew members involved in the production.  We spoke to them to hear of their experiences.

 For several days, Uncle Sam Boat Tours brought crew members to Dark Island from Alexandria Bay along with the meals that were catered by Riley’s by the River.  A spokesperson for Uncle Sam Boat Tours told us that “Uncle Sam Boat Tours, Riley’s by The River and the Thomson family were very happy to assist the entertainment industry in coming to the 1000 Islands and hope that it will bring additional recognition to the area.”

Larry Foster of Schermerhorn Harbor assisted in the transportation of the contestants and camera crews.  The Cedar Grove, which serves as the Singer Castle shuttle during the summer months, was blacked out and used to transport the contestants to Dark Island.  Larry Foster, Bob Foster and Richard Orton assisted the cameramen in the filming of the contestants.  Of the business brought to the area by the production, Larry said “In the fall of the year it was a win-win situation for Schermerhorn Harbor.”

When questioned about his experience, Bob Foster of Chalk’s Marina mentioned that the nights were long but a good experience.  He was amazed by what work was done in so little time and felt that the creativity of the folks involved in the show was amazing.  “The people were excellent.  It was an influx of cash and brought some excitement to the area.   If the show is picked up it will be great advertising for the whole area.  One more for the resume.  I never experienced anything like that before.”  

Richard Orton, also a captain from Schermerhorn Harbor, told us that he had “a real good time” in spite of the long hours which are normal for the television production people.  He was involved because the production company needed an experienced licensed captain and thanks to Schermerhorn Harbor he was an experienced captain.  Of the people he worked with Mr. Orton said, “The people were all nice and polite.  They didn’t ask much of us as long as we were there when they needed us…and they talked to us while we were driving.”

Bob and Larry Foster also commented that “Schermerhorn Harbor and the Foster Family would like to thank the Profiles Television Productions, LLC and their Crews for the experience and the opportunity to work with them. This is an experience we will be talking about for years.”

All in all, the captains we questioned felt that the experience was a positive one and all of them look forward to seeing the pilot when it airs possibly in the next three to nine months.

 Report and picture filed by Jean Papke, administrative assistant to Dark Island's President and General Manager, Tom Weldon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Singer Castle Mystery Revealed!

Singer Castle photos (above and below) by Ian Coristine (of showing special lighting for filming. (Copyrighted and used here by his permission). Click on each photo to see them larger. Outstanding photos.

Above: Ron Howard, one of the producers of the show. Some of his crew stayed at the Riveredge Hotel in Alexandria Bay.
Singer Castle on Dark Island of the Thousand Islands recently came alive with the buzzing of helicopters, boats, massive spot lights, and film crews. Residents were perplexed  as Dark Island's tight-lipped crew held this closely guarded secret. Homeland Security was notified in advance so swat teams would not mistakenly come to the rescue.

Top entertainment executives and up to 100 people at a time were on Dark Island over a period of two weeks, but planning had gone on for months. The project was for filming a pilot program for a reality series called The Great Escape. The show should air between 3 to 6 months from now. Stay tuned to this blog, as I will let you know well in advance for the exact show time.

The Thousand Island Sun summed it up nicely:
"The six contestants had flown from California to Syracuse and were driven to the Edgewood Resort blindfolded. They were sequestered at the hotel, without phones, so that they did not know their exact location. Food was brought in to them from local restaurants. Meanwhile, the five story castle underwent many changes with the help of engineers, builders and local workers. ... The contestants had to find their way through various passageways and floors of the castle, solving puzzles along the way. Their challenge even included having to swim underwater through one of the boathouses, which was purposely over-filled with fish."

The Recorder and Times (Brockville, Ontario, Canada) reported that this brought in an estimated $100,000 into the local community, and that does not even include the major upgrades to the castle itself! They report that future tours of the castle will be expanded to even the secret passageways and that the castle gets to keep the props left from the show. The beloved local Boldt Castle was also in the running to host the filming event, but Dark Island won out because of the secret passageways.

[Post Script: After this blog came out last night, this morning I also find an excellent story by the Watertown Times Daily. Be sure to see that article also!]

Singer Castle on Dark Island is surely a destination point you will want to make. Stay posted to this blog for more hot news stories from the 1,000 Islands!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meet the owner of Singer Castle, Dark Island!

Above, Farhad Vladi co-owner of Singer Castle, Dark Island. Picture courtesy of (and copyrighted by) Vladi Private Islands, (per Kim Lunman). Click on photos to see them larger.

Below, pictured again is co-owner of Singer Castle, Farhad Vladi with the President of Singer Castle, Tom Weldon. Photo courtesy of (and copyrighted by) Vladi Private Islands, per Kim Lunman, photographer and author.

Meet (in a virtual way) the co-owner of Singer Castle, Farhad Vladi, by reading this fabulous article in the online Thousand Islands Life Magazine. (The article first ran in Kim's beautiful print magazine, Island Life). This is a very interesting mini-biography of a successful business man by the award winning writer Kim Lunman, so check it out and enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Floating Castles at Singer Castle

On Sunday, July 31st those in the vicinity of Singer Castle noticed a veritable flotilla of yachts making their way downriver toward Dark Island.  After checking in with customs at Boldt Castle, thirty yachts most ranging in size between 30 and 65 feet came to the island for AquaPalooza 2011.  AquaPalooza is a series Sea Ray sponsored on-water celebrations held during the last two weekends in July at more than 100 locations around the world.   The participating boats were docked on both the North and South sides of the castle and the passengers enjoyed an evening of socializing, dinning and dancing on the Castle Greens followed by an overnight stay. This was the second AquaPalooza cruise to Singer Castle from Hurst Marina in Manotick, Ontario Canada.  Event organizers found that AquaPalooza 2010 was so well received that they decided to return in 2011.
Singer Castle staff welcomed the group’s return and enjoyed seeing the floating “castles” that were manufactured by Sea Ray, Meridian, Cobalt, Viking, Chris Craft and Doral. Several of the larger yachts came equipped with every convenience one would ever want or need for an enjoyable cruise: kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, icemakers, wine storage, beds with pillow top mattresses, full bathrooms, TVs, DVD players, Stereo systems, washers and dryers, GPS and so on.  One could easily live on board for months at a time.

Above report and photo direct from Dark Island's Jean Papke, Administrative Assistant to Tom Weldon, President of Singer Castle.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Commodore Frederick G. Bourne's Weathervane at Singer Castle Restored

Pictured above: Singer Castle Tour Guide, Brianne Langtry of Brier Hill, with the castle’s newly polished weather vane. Click on photo to see it larger.

As early as ancient Roman times, weather vanes were used to show wind direction.  They were particularly useful to mariners who utilized wind direction and sky conditions to predict short-term weather conditions.  Commodore Frederick Bourne was an avid sailor and in 1902 when he had his castle constructed on Dark Island, he had a unique weather vane crafted to place on the highest peak of the castle’s roof.  The weather vane connected to a wind dial inside the castle allowing the Commodore or any of his guests to judge wind direction at a glance.  Constructed of brass with copper finials, the weathervane had a brass pennant style flag with a “B” on it that would cause the vane to turn as the winds changed direction.   Crossed arms with brass letters for north, south, east and west were fixed below the upper section of the weather vane and the flag’s position in relation to the letters would indicate the wind direction to those outside of the building. 

The weather vane is still operational today and Singer Castle staff members have spent that past two weeks cleaning and polishing the parts of the weather vane so that it will once again be a shining fixture for visitors to see on the roof of Commodore Bourne’s castle.

Above dispatch and photo by Jean Papke, Administrative Assistant to Singer Castle's President Tom Weldon. Below, photo of Singer Castle's weather vane in place before restoration, by Bob Mondore. Click on it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Antique Boat Museum, Clayton NY - Authors Autographing Books 8/6/2011

Robert (Bob) and Patty Mondore will be among North Country (New York State and Canada) authors that will be autographing books this Saturday, August 6, 2011 from 2:00 pm to 4 pm at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY (750 Mary Street, Clayton, NY 13624
Phone: 315.686.4104) to benefit the museum.

Famous authors Ian Coristine (1000 Islands Photo Art) and Anthony (Tony) Mollica are scheduled to be there, as well as others.

Bob Mondore (this blog's author and founder of Gold-Mountain) will be giving away free gifts, so be sure to stop in to say hello if you are at the boat show. (Remember: Saturday 8/6/11, from 2:00 pm to 4 pm only). The museum has stocked our books Singer Castle Revisited and River-Lations.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Singer Castle: Through the Eyes of a Tour Guide

Pictured: Griff Stark-Ennis, author of this post.
(Click on photo to see it larger.)

This past Monday, as I rode the staff boat across the St. Lawrence River from Chippewa Bay to Dark Island, I glanced up as I drew nearer to my work destination. There Singer Castle sat gloomy and enigmatic against the distant Canadian landscape, draped in a summer’s heavy rain. I found myself wondering how I came to be a tour guide there. How is it that this historical and mysterious castle became my summer job and what exactly makes it special to me?

Last summer after attending college orientation in Boston I received a call from Singer Castle on Dark Island Tours explaining that they were seeking to fill a position at the castle. Like any other soon-to-be college kid, I was in great need of spending money so needless to say I accepted the position. I soon found myself memorizing hundreds of historical facts and stories preparing for my first tour, one that every “newbie” dreads. Now, I can proudly say that I have a well-structured, informative and – in my opinion – fun tour, one that took many days of practice and embarrassment to perfect.

One may think that giving tours day after day would get monotonous, but the truth is I find myself learning new things every day. Whether our historian finds something new for us to include in our tours, or if I, myself, come across some small but important castle detail, I am constantly learning, discovering and adding. But what about Singer Castle inspired me?

Singer Castle in itself represents something that every young American, like me, is striving to achieve: the “American Dream.” Frederick Bourne, the original owner of the castle, worked his way up from choirboy to president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company making him one of the wealthiest men in the world at that time. The castle stands as both historical and modern proof of what persistence mixed with big dreaming can bring one in life.

I consider myself very lucky for two reasons, the first being that I am fortunate enough to have a summer job in a time when many teenagers in the United States are left seasonably unemployed. The second reason is also the greatest reason I look forward in coming to Singer Castle every morning…and that’s the fact that I actually enjoy my work! I am on a beautiful river all day inside an equally as beautiful castle, working with students – both high school and college – who share many of the same aspirations as I.

Behind the walls of Singer Castle lies an eclectic and diverse sort of family, who together aim to educate people from all over the world about the great history that these very walls have witnessed. History is very much intertwined with the present, however, and I myself am becoming a part of Singer Castle’s historic greatness every day I am there. Like Mr. Bourne, the castle employees and I are seeking to better ourselves through teaching others and working hard. Stepping back into history to change the future? Sounds like an all right summer job to me.

This post received direct from Dark Island. Authored by the talented tour guide: Griff Stark-Ennis.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hammond Historical Society Display at Singer Castle

Thanks to the generosity of the Hammond Historical Society (near Black Lake in NY State), Singer Castle on Dark Island has a new display for visitors to view in the Great Hall.  Visitors will be able to see a beautifully designed evening dress in early 1900s style displayed on a turn of the century dress form.  The bodice of the dress laces in the back and is made of black velvet that is decorated with designs in black jet beading. The bustled skirt is constructed of a fine striped silk in a pale gold color.  It is difficult to imagine the efforts that the ladies of that era would make to fit into a garment with such a tiny waist. On the hat rack a gentleman’s black beaver felt top hat, a ladies hat and a hand woven coverlet are on display.

The above dispatch and picture are direct from Dark Island. Click on the photo to see it larger.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Business After Hours at Singer Castle

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce held its monthly Business After Hours event at Singer Castle on Thursday, July 21st.  One Hundred Eighty-two chamber members from businesses all over the Watertown-North Country area cruised downriver from Alexandria Bay on Uncle Sam Boat Tours “Island Dutchess.” While enjoying their cruise to Dark Island, Singer Castle Historian Judy Keeler shared some of the castle’s history and they were treated to a delicious supper catered by RJs Catering from Adams Center. 

Upon arrival at Singer Castle one half of the group joined castle staff members for a tour while the other half was treated to dessert and coffee on the South Dock.  After the first group of guests completed their tours and returned to the main dock for dessert, the remaining guests had their chance to tour the castle.  In spite of the high temperatures all of those involved enjoyed the experience.
The After Hours Event was cooperatively sponsored by Uncle Sam’s Boat Tours, Watertown Sam’s Club, River Bank Gallery and Blue Heron Coffee, RJs Catering and Singer Castle. Uncle Sam’s provided transportation. Bottled water, set ups and desserts were provided by the Watertown Sam’s Club.  Coffee was provided by the Riverbank Gallery and Blue Heron Coffee, RJs catering provided the evening meal and Singer Castle provided the destination.

Above dispatch and picture received direct from Dark Island.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Woodstock is not in the 1000 Islands... Or is it?

While not the famed Woodstock Music & Art Fair of 1969, noted architect Ernest Flagg’s rendition of Woodstock Palace as described by Sir Walter Scott in his 1826 novel – Woodstock - The Cavalier: A Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-one was built on Dark Island in the 1000 Islands in 1903.

Virtually forgotten today, the original Woodstock went through many incarnations between 1007 and 1720. It is first mentioned in connection with the early English Kings Alfred the Great and Ethelred the Unready who lived 978-1016. In 1129 King Henry I had seven miles of wall built to enclose Woodstock Park for hunting. Around 1160 King Henry II turned the hunting lodge into a palace and much to the displeasure of his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, used it to house his mistress Rosamund de Clifford. This was where he had his first clash with Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was then murdered by forces loyal to the King. King Richard the Lionheart and his brother King John I of “Robin Hood” fame were frequent visitors and King Edward III brought his entire court to Woodstock in 1330. In the late 1400s, Tudor King Henry VII, who restored stability to the monarchy after the War of the Roses, undertook major renovations of the palace at Woodstock. It is recorded that King Henry VIII frequently came to stay and hunt there in the early years of his reign. By the mid-16th Century, Woodstock, which had sunk into disrepair, was used to imprison Princess Elizabeth for nearly a year before she became Queen Elizabeth I of England. During the English Civil War (1642-49) the palace was used as a royalist garrison and was briefly visited by King Charles I. King Charles II used it during the conflict with Cromwell’s armies, who heavily damaged the property. From that point on the palace sank into ruin and was eventually torn down.

In the early 1900s Frederick G. Bourne of New York City hired the renowned architect Ernest Flagg to design a “small” hunting lodge that was unlike any other castle in existence. Flagg, who had just read the novel Woodstock, would use Scott’s description of Woodstock Palace as an inspiration for the new castle because the original was demolished in 1720 at the direction of the Duchess of Marlborough, who was overseeing the construction of Blenheim Palace near the original Woodstock’s location.

Today, Bourne and Flagg’s version of the Woodstock Palace, now known as Singer Castle, has become a popular destination for tours, overnight stays and weddings in the 1000 Islands region. (Blenheim Palace situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England is a tourist attraction as well as the family residence for the Dukes of Marlborough).

The above dispatch and pictures were received directly from Dark Island.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot off the digital press: Thousand Islands Life article on Singer Castle

Kim Lunman
, owner and publisher of the quality Island Life Magazine, just had an article about Singer Castle on Dark Island published in the wonderful online digital magazine Thousand Islands Life.

Click here: (Thousand Islands Life) to go directly to the article. Enjoy the rest of this excellent magazine too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy July 4th weekend!

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

It has been said that the price of freedom is not free. Throughout the years it has required a lot of work and sacrifice to maintain our freedoms.

Below is a picture of the making of parachute harnesses in July 1942 with a Singer Sewing machine (during World War 2). Location: Manchester, Conn. USA.

Next we have our allies on the British Western front in France using Singer Sewing machines to repair army boots during WW2.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Murder in Winger Castle! Only a short time left to help solve this case!

Singer Castle on Dark Island will be hosting a murder mystery benefit where all proceeds will go to the River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, NY. Scripted by the River Hospital Auxiliary.

The theme: The owner of "Winger Castle" was murdered and guests will have the opportunity to discover who did it through evidence gathering as they explore the castle.

Event time: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, passengers will board an Uncle Sam tour boat for a dinner cruise to Dark Island. Retro into the 1920s (but there is no Prohibition), then hear the reading of the will at the castle and try out your own sleuthing. Be Sherlock for an evening.

You must call now as time is very short for this unique evening of fun and suspense. Tickets are limited.

Cost: $85 or $160 per couple (remember, all proceeds benefit the River Hospital).
For tickets: Call Judy Randall at (315) 482-4049 or River Hospital Foundation at (315) 482-4976.

Dressing for the period is encouraged and there will be prizes.
Click on the poster above to see it larger.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cliff Yates’ Carvings Showcased at Singer Castle

A collection of Cliff Yates’ carvings and plaques will be on display and for sale in the Gift Shop at Singer Castle this season.  A self-taught woodcarver who specializes in birds, fish and wildlife, Cliff and his wife NeNe have spent their summers on Elm Tree Island in Chippewa Bay for the past fifty-six years.  He began carving in 1965 and over the years has refined his technique by carving hundreds of pieces, visiting craft shows and asking questions of other carvers. Cliff adds depth and dimension to his work with wood burning and acrylic paints.  Each piece takes many hours to complete.  Larger birds take 45-50 hours to complete: 15-20 hours to cut out, carve and sand with an additional 25 hours for wood burning and painting.  A smaller bird takes around 20-25 hours to complete.  

Retired from the Greece, NY Police Department in 1989, Cliff planned to spend his extra free time on his carving and fishing but in 1997 a serious stroke left Cliff partially paralyzed and unable to use his left hand.   Unwilling to give up carving, Cliff underwent extensive physical therapy and worked until he was able to walk, talk and carve again.  Cliff loves to share his art with others and is committed to passing on the art of woodcarving to a new generation of wood carvers.

Above news release direct from Dark Island.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2011 (the last Monday of every May), we remember those who gave up everything for us.

Above is a memorial located in Alexandria Bay, NY overlooking the St. Lawrence River and Boldt Castle on Heart Island. The memorial is a testament to PFC Jack T. Sweet, a soldier who gave his life on Feb. 8, 2008 in Iraq at the age of 19 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jack Sweet was from Alexandria Bay and his home base was Fort Drum in Watertown, NY (10th Mountain Division).

Photos by Bob Mondore

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Quick Taste: History of Singer Castle.

 Commodore Frederick G. Bourne and his wife Emma are the couple in the center of the gathering. Click on the photo to see it larger.

Singer Castle – A Family Place

The five-story red roofed castle on Dark Island was built in the early 1900s as a "small hunting lodge" for Frederick Bourne who was the President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company from 1889-1905. Bourne and his family loved spending time at "The Towers" in the 1000 Islands and enjoyed the many activities that were available to residents and visitors alike. Boating, sailing, racing, tennis and golf were popular with the family in the summer and in the fall Bourne and his friends came for the duck hunting. After Bourne’s death in 1919 his youngest daughter Marjorie and her sister, May Bourne Strassburger purchased the castle from the estate. Marjorie Bourne and her husband Alexander Thayer continued to use and enjoy the castle with friends and family until the early 1960s.

From the mid-1960s to 2001 the castle, then called Jorstadt Castle was owned by the Dr. Harold Martin Evangelical Association and used for religious retreats and services. During those years families came to the castle for Sunday worship during the summer months.

In 2002 Dark Island was purchased by a group of island and castle enthusiasts who opened the castle for guided tours, overnight stays and weddings and special events. Now called Singer Castle after the source of much of Frederick Bourne’s fortune, it is once again a family place. Visitors of all ages enjoy coming to tour the fully furnished building and hearing about time gone by in the 1000 Islands. Overnight guests can pretend that they are the Kings and Queens or Princes and Princesses of the castle and Brides and Grooms can have their own Royal Wedding.

After visiting friends and "family," you can now keep track of the castle by visiting us on facebook, or by checking out the following websites:,, and

The castle is also featured in several recently published books and magazines including Bob and Patty Mondore’s Singer Castle Revisited, Patty Mondore’s River-Lations: Inspirational Stories and Photos of the 1000 Islands, Ian Corstine’s The very best of Ian Corstine’s 1000 Islands, Kathleen Quigley’s The Summer Cottage: Retreats of the 1000 Islands, Scott Ian Barry’s The Castles of New York, Mike Harwood’s The St. Lawrence River Rats and The Mystery of Singer Castle, Island Life Magazine published by Kim Lunman. Wealth TV has produced a feature on Singer Castle as part of a series entitled "Palatial Passport" and PBS continues to air its feature on Singer Castle.

Call 1-877-327-5475 for more information on Singer Castle.

The above dispatch and photo were received this day directly from Dark Island's president, Tom Weldon.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Singer Castle opens this Saturday! Boldt Castle already open. Welcome to the Islands!

Picture: President of Singer Castle Tom Weldon on the left side in the light shirt, Bob and Patty Mondore on the right side as guests of the castle, the friendly castle staff in maroon shirts. Click on the photo to see it larger.

The long awaited reopening of Singer Castle on Dark Island and Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the 1000 Islands after the long winter seige is upon us. Here are the schedules...

Singer Castle will open for the 2011 season on May 21 and will be open Saturdays and Sundays thru June 18.Open daily June 18 - Labor Day
Open Saturdays and Sundays Labor Day - October 9


2011 Boldt Castle Hours of Operation:

May 7 - June 24: 10:00am - 6:30pm
June 25 - Sept 4: 10:00am - 7:30pm
Sept 5 - Oct 2: 10:00am - 6:30pm
Oct 3 - Oct 10: 10:00am - 5:30pm
Oct 15 - Oct 16: 11:00am - 5:30pm
This information provided by original sources at the time of blogging for your convenience. Always check ahead with them before making any plans or trips for any notices or changes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Not your usual Tour of the 1000 Islands - Wild Cat!

There is something new in the Thousand Islands, and it is a wild, high speed adventure cruise! It is like taking a tour and a circus ride at the same time. It is the Wild Cat ride/boat that takes you on a tour of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. The 1000 Islands & Seaway Cruises (in Brockville, Canada) has put together an awesome 3 minute tour on video that is a must see. See fantastic shots of Singer Castle on Dark Island (at 1:00) as well as Boldt Castle on Heart Island (at 1:43), exotic looking wildlife, light houses (including Sister Island Lighthouse near Dark Island), huge ships...and the spectular ride itself with 1,400 horsepower! The tour covers 38 nautical miles in less than 2 hours at speeds up to 40 knots (on the water, that is really moving). Not your typical boat tour! Get a taste of the exciting ride now by seeing the video below.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Powerful Picture of Singer Castle on Dark Island

Above is a powerfully beautiful shot of Singer Castle enveloped in fog with a large ship passing by. Photo taken by Jean Papke who is the Administrative Assistant to the castle's President Tom Weldon. Click on the photo to see it larger.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter/Passover. Services at Dark Island - History remembered.

Pictured above is the Rev. Harvey Jones giving the Sunday Service at Singer Castle (then known as Jorstadt Castle) on Dark Island in what is now called the Breakfast Room. All boaters were welcomed without charge (free-will donations only) and a free tour of the castle always followed. It seems appropriate during this time of the year to show this picture of services in the castle. You can barely see the top of Patty Mondore's head at the piano. She was the castle's musician for many years. Be sure to click on the picture above to see it enlarged (photographer: Bob Mondore).

Click on the hyperlinks to see outstanding, more recent photos of this same room...
During summer, this large room with huge glass windows (with a view of the river on three sides) often had overflowing crowds. Click here for a more recent picture of the wall above: as it now looks. Click here for a spectacular view of this multi-windowed room: from the outside.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Saint Lawrence River Rats - Mystery at Singer Castle

There is a new book out with Singer Castle on Dark Island (St. Lawrence River) as its backdrop. Titled: The Saint Lawrence River Rats and the Mystery at Singer Castle, it is for kids and the young at heart. (I have not had the opportunity to read it, but with the subject matter involved I'm sure it must be captivating). The author, Michael Harwood of Brewerton NY, says it will be part of a series that will be uplifting to the Thousand Islands region. Further information may be found as follows. Mail: Choose Liberty Ventures, 5750 Mud Mill Rd, Brewerton NY 13029, Phone: 315-440-4032, Email:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Post Author Extravaganza in Liverpool NY

We had an enjoyable time repping the Gold-Mountain line at the Liverpool Public Library celebrating National Library Week with an offering of our books and DVDs. At the same time we informed many about the wonderful 1000 Islands region and Singer Castle on Dark Island tours. We donated our hot-off-the-press book (River-Lations) to the library and had many enjoyable conversations with those who stopped by. We were particularly happy to have been able to give special encouragement to some who visited. Our thanks to the library staff for their hospitality. You can "Like" us on Facebook.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Central New York State - Local Author Extravaganza!

More than a dozen local authors from Upstate New York will converge in Liverpool NY (near Syracuse) on Sunday, April 10, 2011 (from Noon to 2:00 p.m.). Occasion: National Library Week. Location: Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool NY 13088 (315.457.0310). See map. Books will be available for purchase and autographs.

Robert and Patty Mondore will be there with multiple works, including the new River-Lations book, Singer Castle Revisited (book) and the DVD documentary featuring Singer Castle: "Dark Island's Castle of Mysteries". Other Gold-Mountain works will be available too. As usual from Bob, many prizes will abound, so be sure to visit our booth. Click on the following image to see it larger:

Authors scheduled to be at this event:
Robert & Patty Mondore
James Bruno
Holly Gaskin
Susan Peterson Gately 
Mike Langan
Markus J. Mastin
Sean Leahy
Bill McGee
Ronnie Richardson
David Rosenberg
Joseph Sweet
Victoria Underwood
Beverly Ann Wernet
Stan Wilczek

Friday, April 1, 2011

Strange anomalies documented on video from Dark Island?

Unusual anomalies Log date 4/1/11

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Ship of the season passing Singer Castle

Scott Garris took this photo of the first ship (the Algoeast) passing by Singer Castle on Dark Island in the St. Lawrence River, 1000 Islands. As reported by Singer Castle President Tom Weldon. A sign of better weather to come soon! Click on the photo to see it larger.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ian Coristine and PrairieCORE - 1000 Islands video collaboration

The following two movies are a powerful presentation of the Thousand Islands region. This is thanks to a collaboration with the 1000 Islands Photo Art giant: Ian Coristine and a company called PrairieCORE. See a glimpse of Singer Castle on Dark Island at 34 seconds into the first video and at 50 seconds into the second.

The first video is called 1000 Islands VOICES, and the second is called 1000 Islands PASSION. These are wonderfully produced and, of course, the photos by Ian Coristine are exquisitely stunning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stunning >>> 1000 Islands by George and Sean Fischer

This short video has some of the most colorful and brilliant photos you will see of the Thousand Islands. Photos include several of Boldt Castle throughout and also one of Singer Castle (at 1:20), plus more. Pleasent musical background.

George Fisher is the photographer and Sean Fischer is the talented jazz musician.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alert! - Last Chance to vote Clayton NY as Coolest Town in America!

This is your last chance to vote for one of our own small towns, Clayton NY, to be declared America's Coolest Small Town.

Click on the following link to vote (you can vote from anywhere in the world): VOTE.

Voting closes on Feb. 11, 2011, so you can make a difference today only. Clayton has moved way up to within the top 3, so if we keep it there it will create a lot of good buzz for the area. Just click on the aforementioned vote link, then click on the blue dot in the Northern New York State area and click on Add to Ballot. Then click on Cast Your Ballot. There is no need for filling in any name or email boxes, no fuss - no muss!

Clayton NY 13624 is like a living Norman Rockwell painting, so let's help them out; our entire area will benefit!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Captain Jack Spotted at Boat Show - Big Winner: Come on down!

Picture above and story received directly from Dark Island's Jean Papke, Administrative Assistant to the President of Singer Castle (Tom Weldon). Click on the photo to see it larger.


Over 72,000 visitors from all over Canada, the U.S. and several foreign countries braved wintry weather to attend the 2011 Toronto International Boat Show.  Representatives of 1000 Islands International Tourism Council and Singer Castle joined over 500 other vendors in Toronto’s Direct Energy Center to share information about the 1000 Islands Region.  Among those spotted at the Singer Castle Booth was Captain Jack Sparrow who is pictured above talking to Sir Frederick.

More than 850 of the visitors to the Singer Castle booth registered to win an evening in the castle’s Royal Suite. At the close of the show an entry from Nelly, one of the Canadian visitors to the castle’s booth, was chosen.   Castle staff is awaiting a reply to the e-mail that notified Nelly of her lucky entry.