Wellesley Island Station
Border Patrol operations have been conducted in the Thousand Islands/Watertown area of New York since the U.S. Border Patrol's inception in 1924 with an initial station in Clayton, NY. Prior to world War II, additional back-up stations were located at Cape Vincent, Lowville, Adams, and Alexandria Bay. The main enforcement emphasis at the time was on liquor smuggling from Canada.
In 1944, the Watertown Border Patrol Station was established to bolster the Clayton, NY Station and to better control transportation routes. Enforcement priorities changed to the prevention of illegal entry by prisoners of war and subversive aliens from Canada. The Watertown Station closed in 1949 with the establishment of the New York City Sector and reorganization of sectors in the Northeast Region. During the 1950's, Canada received thousands of displaced persons and refugees from Europe, many of who were excludable from the United States. This resulted in an increase of illegal entrants across the St. Lawrence River and a change of enforcement strategies.
The Watertown Station reopened in 1957 when the Clayton Station was deactivated with the establishment of the Ogdensburg Sector. On July 1, 1982, the Ogdensburg Sector was closed and the Watertown Station became part of the Buffalo Sector.
In 1993, the Watertown Station moved its operations back to the border and onto Wellesley Island working out of several temporary locations until 1998. On October 4, 1998, the Watertown Station moved into its current location on the Saint Lawrence River, the former Craigside Manor, a renovated 19th Century mansion. With its new permanent location, the station name was changed to the Wellesley Island Border Patrol Station.
Area of Responsibility
The Wellesley Island Border Patrol Station Area of Responsibility covers 2,569 square miles including 256 miles of shoreline and 70 miles of international border.