Thousand Island-Seaway Region Facts

Each Friday a new fact about a region of New York State is posted to the Exploring Upstate Facebook Page. In case you haven’t been following along there, here’s what you missed!

– George Barnard is credited as having taken what is believed to be the first “on-the-spot news” photograph when he captured the Fitzhugh’s and Company Flour Mills fire in Oswego on July 5, 1853.  Located on the east side of the Oswego Harbor, the fire destroyed eight city blocks and left 2,000 people without homes. [source]

– There are three requirements an island must meet before it can be considered one of the Thousand Islands: 1. It must be above water all year, 2. it must have at least one tree or shrub, and 3. it must be at least one foot in diameter. [source]

– The well known “five-and-dime store” business model wasn’t exactly invented by Frank Winfield Woolworth, but he definitely pioneered the model and made it successful. His first go at the five-and-dime idea was in 1878 in Watertown. After buying $100 worth of random goods, he cleared his sales counter in one day, and from there the idea became a full-fledged economic icon. [source]

– The ‘Thousand Islands’ region is actually made up of 1,864 islands. [source]

– First opened in 1799, the City of Oswego was the first freshwater port in the United States. [source]

– The St. Lawrence River was named by Jacques Cartier, believed to be the first European to sail up the river. He arrived at the estuary of the river on August 10, the Feast Day of St. Lawrence, and honored the location by naming it the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As the patron saint of chefs and cooks, St. Lawrence is infamous for his words while being burned at the stake when he claimed, “turn me over, I’m done on this side.” [source]

– The strongest earthquake to ever shake New York State occurred on September 5, 1944. The 5.8 magnitude quake hit St. Lawrence County and was centered in Massena, though it was felt as far away as Maryland, Indiana, Maine and Canada. [source]

– Clayton, New York was named in honor of John M. Clayton, a lawyer and politician from Delaware who never lived nor served in New York.

– Dr. Mary Walker of Oswego is the only woman ever awarded the Medal of Honor. As a surgeon in the Civil War, she crossed enemy lines to help suffering inhabitants when no others would, for fear of being arrested. [source]

– A boundary agreement signed in 1793 by Canada and the United States stipulated that in the Thousand Islands, 1. No island could be split in two, and 2. the boundary must exist 100 yards from a shore. Where it wasn’t possible to be that far away, the demarcation would run perfectly between the two shorelines. As a result, the boundary line between the two countries seems to randomly zig-zag in a few spots, and in some places is even a bit uncertain.