Clayton (New York)

Clayton (population 1,700 in 2020) and Alexandria Bay (pop. 900 in 2020) are small villages in northern New York which, along with Cape Vincent (pop. 2,800 in 2016) 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-1800s, 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 Alexandria Bay and Clayton. An international car ferry runs seasonally from Wolfe Island (Ontario) to Cape Vincent.

Get in[edit]

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 (ART IATA). The closest Amtrak station is in Syracuse.

Get around[edit]

Map of Clayton (New York)

By boat[edit]




  • 1000 Islands Clayton Spring Boat Show, Cerow Recreation Park Arena, 615 East Line Road, Clayton. First weekend in April. $4.
  • Bill Johnston Pirate Days, Route 12, Alexandria Bay. Ten-day festival, usually second week of August. Entertainment and historic re-enactments, dress as a pirate, a revolutionary or a native. Commemorates the 1838 hijacking, looting and burning of the Sir Robert Peel, a British-Canadian side wheel passenger steamer built in Brockville in 1837. The wrecked ship remains at the bottom of the St. Lawrence (44° 18' 2.4012" N, -75° 59' 10.5612" W) under 125 feet of water.
  • Great NY State Food & Wine Festival, Frink Park and Cerow Recreation Park Arena. Mid June, weekend (F-Su). “Made in New York” food & wine products from across the state, candy and cheeses, nuts, sauces, herbs & spices, maple syrup, apple cider, cookies and ice cream. Held simultaneously with Seaway Splash and Sailing Seaway Clayton.


  • 1000 Islands Winery, 43298 Seaway Ave, Alexandria Bay, +1 315-482-9306, fax: +1 315-482-9302.
  • Clayton Farmers Market, Frink Park, Riverside Dr, Clayton, +1 315-686-3771. Summer only: Th 4-7PM. Farm produce, baked goods and homemade items.
  • Coyote Moon Vineyards, 17371 East Line Rd, Clayton, +1 315-686-5600. Vineyard open daily except Christmas. Wine & Craft Beer Lounge at 524 Riverside Road, Clayton (+1 315-686-4030) operates seasonally.





  • Hawn Memorial Library, 220 John Street, Clayton, +1 315-686-3762, fax: +1 315 686-6028. M W F 9AM-5PM, Tu Th 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Small local library with wi-fi and Internet computers.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Clayton
Ends at Thousand Islands  N  S  WatertownSyracuse
Ends at Morristown  N  S  WatertownBinghamton

This city travel guide to Clayton is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.