A century-old 82-foot water tower on Calumet Island stands as a symbol of the Golden Age in the 1000 Islands region of upstate NY. Charles G. Emery, a tobacco tycoon of New York city, build the very first castle in the Thousand Islands here. Emery, worked his way from a clerk to the owner of Goodwin Tobacco Company, founded by his uncle in Brooklyn, and bought a small group of islands off the little village of Clayton, NY. The massive castle was built in 1894, had 30 rooms with a ballroom later added to accommodate guests for lavish galas punctuated by spectacular fireworks. One such event in 1902 attracted 200 guests and featured 10,000 Japanese lanterns hanging over the lawn illuminating the River. (can you image that!?) Emery constructed a water tower, a lagoon for his boats, a guest house, skiff house, boat house and ice house and sailed the River in his steam yachts. Eventually it became a hotel.
All that remains, of this still privately owned island, after a fire on August 23, 1911 (almost exactly 101 years to the date of this posting!) is the water tower you see here. The fire was caused by a musician smoking in his room, a tragic irony for the owner, who made his fortune on cigarettes. Nothing was left of the hotel with the exception of its huge flag, remarkably saved by an unknown man who saved it from the blaze. This single event all but marked the end of a Gilded Era in the 1000 islands region.
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