In 1926 W. Gilbert Freeman organized a private company and sought legislation to authorize a project to built a bridge linking the US and Canada in the Thousand Islands Region. It was vetoed but a large movement was organized by local citizens of the area, and traveled via a special train from Clayton to Albany But the bridge bill was still turned down and finally Freeman gave up his efforts in 1931.
During the summer of 1932 the effort to build a bridge from the Thousand Islands Region to Canada was revived as a work relief project. A citizens committee was formed and led by William T. Field, a Watertown civil engineer. But the real force behind the effort was Russell Wright, a Watertown lawyer who later became an assemblyman and judge. Finally in 1933 the 1000 Islands Bridge Authority was formed and in the following year Canada formed their own version. Eventually the whole project was designated to the U.S. 1000 Islands Bridge Authority, due to various financing and investment banker issues. During and before the building of the bridge itself, much hardship was involved in securing right-of-ways or property rights from those whose land the bridge building would include.
In 1937 and in little more than a year the Thousand Islands Bridge was built from what was then Collins Landing, to Wellesley Island, and then to Ontario; an idea wished upon for many years. It was formally dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canada's Prime Minister W.L.M. King on a warm, sunny day on August 18, 1938. The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the international border on the bridge was witnessed by 25,000 people. The bridge links New York State with Ontario, Canada, and consists of two lanes on five island-hopping spans. It was designed by the New York engineering firm of Robinson and Steinman (later known as Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist, and London), and built for less then $3,000,000. Most of the workers were Mohawk Indians, some of whose ancestors walked the same lands and traveled the river. The US span is eight-hundred feet between towers, a hundred fifty feet above water, and has two one-thousand foot viaducts. The three Canadian spans include a suspension span seven-hundred fifty feet between towers, a hundred-twenty feet above water, and a one-thousand five hundred foot viaduct, a steel arch span three-hundred forty eight feet long, and a Warren Truss span six-hundred feet long.
During 1966-1967 a million cars crossed the 1000 Islands Bridge. In early surveys traffic engineers predicted an annual number of vehicles would be four-hundred thousand per year, though in 1944, during World War II, only about sixty-six thousand cars crossed it.