Deer Island

Owned by Yale University’s Secret Society

The Skull and Bones, visit


Deer Island in The 1000 Islands

Deer Island is one of the Thousand Islands. It lies between the United States and Canada, close to Alexandria Bay, New York. It is owned entirely by the Russell Trust Association and is used as a Skull and Bones retreat.


The island lies near Boldt Castle and can be seen up close from several U.S. and Canadian tour vessels that operate in the local waterways. The land on the island is densely overgrown with a small lodge on the Southern corner of the island.


Skull and Bones doesn’t own an opulent island hideaway like the one depicted in The Skulls. It does own an island on the St. Lawrence River—Deer Island, in Alexandria Bay. The forty-acre retreat is intended to give Bonesmen an opportunity to “get together and rekindle old friendships.” A century ago the island sported tennis courts and its softball fields were surrounded by rhubarb plants and gooseberry bushes. Catboats waited on the lake. Stewards catered elegant meals. But although each new Skull and Bones member still visits Deer Island, the place leaves something to be desired. “Now it is just a bunch of burned-out stone buildings,” a patriarch sighs. “It’s basically ruins.” Another Bonesman says that to call the island “rustic” would be to glorify it. “It’s a dump, but it’s beautiful.”


The fading of Deer Island exemplifies the dwindling finances of Skull and Bones, which can no longer claim the largest society endowment at Yale. Unlike members of other societies, Bonesmen pay no dues, though patriarchs receive an annual letter requesting a “voluntary contribution to the Russell Trust Association.” In truth, Skull and Bones has never been wealthy.

Controversy
Some journalists, Alex Jones included, have suggested that Deer Island plays host annually to regular meetings and initiation rites of the Skull and Bones society, and that the island is historically significant for being prominent in truther theories concerning the New World Order and freemason lore. Despite conspiracy theories that hypothesize the opposite, since the island sits on almost exactly the international boundary line separating Canada and the USA, it is not in fact lawless but under authority of the US Coast Guard. Nearby Boldt Castle has its own customs office.


The land was originally purchased by Samuel Miller, for $175, in September of 1876. The area was popular during the prohibition era and may have been used for clandestine smuggling purposes.
There may have been upwards of eight buildings on the island at one point but time has reduced the number of structures to four.
Flora & Fauna
The island is covered in indigenous trees made up of mostly White Pine, Black Oak, Hemlock, and Sugar Maple – typical of the Canadian shield – as is much of the surrounding area. There are several abandoned ruins located throughout the 50 acre island, now overgrown and barely visible beneath the growth.


The History of Deer Island

… what little is known or theorized to date

Deer Island is located just North of Alexandria Bay, New York. It is a fifty acre island containing diverse topography and a varied shoreline. The southern perimeter of Deer Island faces the American shipping channel while the northern perimeter faces the Canadian channel. It has several protected coves and a small bay and is currently mostly forested with White Pine, Black Oak, Hemlock, and Sugar Maple.

Deer Island was one of the first islands in what has become known as The Thousand Islands region to have been sold as a summer retreat. In September of 1856, Deer Island and a smaller 7 acre island nearest to it on the northeastern edge was sold to a Mr. Samuel Miller for a sum of $175.

Through the turn of the century, this region became a favored summer retreat for the American elite as many wealthy families purchased islands and constructed ever more elaborate and decorative cottages. Most of these homes were featured in tourist books of the time since the many hotels also attracted the less affluent vacationers and the homes of the millionaires were no less of interest to the tourist in 1800 than they are today. Yet, photographs of the Deer Island structures are not as easy to locate despite the fact that the Island and its accouterments were apparently no less elaborate and interesting as the many of the other cottages.

At some date prior to 1949, Samuel Miller’s son, George Douglas Miller, gave a building on the island to the Yale University’s Skull and Bones Society. This building was known as “The Outlook” and was built largely of stone with a wooden upper structure. It was reported to contain fifteen rooms and housed a valuable collection of antiques and books. The building and it’s contents were destroyed by fire in 1949.

The Skull and Bones Society currently appears to own the entire island however, of the original larger cottages on the island, only one clearly remains. There are at least three obvious ruins on the island. The NewRuins Deer Island Project seeks to determine the history of these ruins and the factors that led to their demise.


Skull and Bones – Deer Island

Deer Island is located just North of Alexandria Bay, New York. It is a fifty acre island containing diverse topography and a varied shoreline. The southern perimeter of Deer Island faces the American shipping channel while the northern perimeter faces the Canadian channel. It has several protected coves and a small bay and is currently mostly forested with White Pine, Black Oak, Hemlock, and Sugar Maple.


Deer Island was one of the first islands in what has become known as The Thousand Islands region to have been sold as a summer retreat. In September of 1856, Deer Island and a smaller 7 acre island nearest to it on the northeastern edge was sold to a Mr. Samuel Miller for a sum of $175.


Through the turn of the century, this region became a favored summer retreat for the American elite as many wealthy families purchased islands and constructed ever more elaborate and decorative cottages. Most of these homes were featured in tourist books of the time since the many hotels also attracted the less affluent vacationers and the homes of the millionaires were no less of interest to the tourist in 1800 than they are today. Yet, photographs of the Deer Island structures are not as easy to locate despite the fact that the Island and its accouterments were apparently no less elaborate and interesting as the many of the other cottages.


At some date prior to 1949, Samuel Miller’s son, George Douglas Miller, gave a building on the island to the Yale University’s Skull and Bones Society. This building was known as “The Outlook” and was built largely of stone with a wooden upper structure. It was reported to contain fifteen rooms and housed a valuable collection of antiques and books. The building and it’s contents were destroyed by fire in 1949.


The Skull and Bones Society currently appears to own the entire island however, of the original larger cottages on the island, only one clearly remains. There are at least three obvious ruins on the island. The NewRuins Deer Island Project seeks to determine the history of these ruins and the factors that led to their demise.


You Can Read More About The Skull & Bones Society Here.



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