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Whiskey Island, Rich With Prohibition Era History, Up For Sale

The era of Prohibition in the United States provided great opportunity for those willing to smuggle in illegal whiskey and the like from Canada, where a ban on alcohol was not in effect. A portion of this smuggling occurred by boat over small waterways between the two countries, such the St. Lawrence River on the northern border of New York. It is here, on the so-called Whiskey Island, that if you have the money you can now own what was once a waypoint for smugglers heading to the US.

Whiskey Island, so named “from the time of the prohibition when it was used by smugglers bringing alcoholic beverages across the US/Canadian border,” is up for sale for the hefty price of $3 million USD. It is a 3.1 acre island, complete with the the aptly named Whiskey Island Lodge, a renovated lodge from 1875 which holds eight bedrooms, four baths, a commercial kitchen, a family room, a library/office and numerous screened and open porches.

Whiskey Island
Whiskey Island (image via Vladi Private Islands)

A website I found while researching Whiskey Island is focused specifically on the lodge, but did include some interesting details not mentioned in the for sale listing of the island on the Prohibition-era activities that are said to have happened there. As spelled out by this site,

due to the mass of shoals and its strategic location on US/Canadian boarder, Whiskey was the main “drop and run” point for rumrunners during Prohibition. Because these shoals and rocks surrounded the Island it was easy for the rumrunners to hide, and later recover, the smuggled liquor. Since this section of river, where Whiskey lay, was a tricky spot to navigate through, it was hard for the law to chase the rumrunners.  It also helped that the rumrunners were the best navigators on the river and they could get a boat through this cut fast to escape the law.  As a code to other rumrunners “Whiskey Island” was adapted to inform one other where the goods could be recovered and stored if the law was getting in the way. 

That’s a pretty cool history if you ask me. As for what you get in addition to the unique history of Whiskey Island and the associated lodge, there’s also as part of the purchase “a 2-bedroom guest cottage, a new 2 slip boathouse, deepwater docks and swim deck.”

Whiskey Island is said to be located “at the southwestern end of the Thousand Islands at the head of Grindstone Island nestled along the northern edge of upstate New York and minutes from the Canadian border.” From the pictures along with the listing it looks to be a beautiful setup, complete with panoramic river vistas.

This island, by the way, was originally known as Coral Island “due to the maze of shoals” surrounding it. The name change to Whiskey Island apparently didn’t happen until sometime after Prohibition.

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