Antique Boat Museum
Appropriately enough, Clayton has the finest collection of antique wooden boats in America. Among them are canoes, sailboats, launches, raceboats, runabouts, and, of course, the famed St. Lawrence skiff.
The gleaming boats, most built of highly polished woods and brass, are housed in a former lumberyard (750 Mary St., 315/686-4104, www.abm.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily mid-May–mid-Oct., adults $12, seniors $11, students $10, children 5–17 $6) on the edge of town. There are over 150 vessels in all, spread out over eight buildings, along with a boatbuilding shop, almost 300 inboard and outboard motors, and 12,000 nautical artifacts.
The museum also contains extensive historical exhibits, including one on Clayton’s rum-running days. During Prohibition, men smuggled liquor across the river from Canada on sleds, skates, and small boats honeycombed with hidden compartments.
Thousand Islands Museum
Inside this eclectic local history museum (312 James St., 315/686-5794, www.timuseum.org, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily June–Sept., admission by donation), you’ll find the “Muskie Hall of Fame,” devoted to the region’s most prized fish, and an enormous collection of hand-carved decoys, a popular North Country folk art.
According to the exhibit, one riverman claims to have carved over 1,000 decoys, another about 5,000. Also on site are re-created turn-of-the-century storefronts, including a general store, millinery shop, law office, and old country kitchen.
Handweaving Museum and Arts Center
Hand-woven North American textiles are the specialty of this small and low-key museum (314 John St., 315/686-4123, www.hm-ac.org, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. year-round, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. in summer, admission by donation). Exhibits range from 18th-century lace collars and handkerchiefs to modern shawls and scarves. Adjoining the museum are classrooms where workshops are offered; visitors are welcome to enroll if space is available.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition