Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bannerman (Okay, Pollepel) Island: Hudson River Part 2

Because I finish what I start, I have to do a second post about the Hudson River. And because 2009 is the 400th anniversary, I have to do it before Friday. Bugger. So this is gonna be a short one.

The subject? An island I always thought was called Bannerman. Turns out it's called Pollepel but I don't think I'll really bother with that.

Anyone who's taken the train north from New York City, along the Hudson, as far as the <>lovely destination< /sarcasm> of Beacon may have seen an interesting sight oh, maybe a third of the way across the river (maybe a little less?) or so. Yeah, I know that's probably not very many people but honestly, it is a worthwhile sight. What is it? Why, it's Bannerman Pollepel Island, of course!

And what is this island other than just an island? It's a supposedly haunted island that now has some ruined castle-like buildings on it. And I mean really cool castle-y buildings. I've taken that along-the-Hudson train many, many times and that island is something I've always watched out for and, as I child, something I was always curious about.

The people who eventually owned the island (the Bannerman family, though they weren't the first owners) and did all the building there owned some kind of munitions business. I have some vague memory that they also had something to do with fireworks or something? Maybe just ammo? I think some of the buildings were eventually destroyed thanks to some kind of explosion or something. I keep saying "or something" because I really don't remember, their website isn't specific, and I'm feeling a bit too lazy to actually do the research.

The point: Bannerman Island is a really cool place with some ruined castle buildings on it. Why am I going on and on about it? Because I've been there.

A few years ago, it became possible to visit the island on a boat tour. I think my mother thought it would be a nice family excursion (I know I agreed) and so we went. The visit begins with a nice boat ride but that's the boring part.

Once on the island, everyone has to wear a hard hat. I know the island's buildings aren't stable but I have to wonder if the whole hard hat thing maybe isn't somewhat of a gimmick. The island is overgrown and it can be hard to walk, even on the paths. Unlike many castles I've visited, it isn't possible to go into or really very close to the buildings. They don't build 'em like they used to, I guess.

For some reason, I don't remember this island visit in all that much detail. I certainly remember being there, I know what it looked like, and I definitely learned some history. It's still a little fuzzy, though. This is especially strange since this visit was, at most, six years ago.

Unfortunately, no one brought a camera that day. I really wish I had because it really is a neat-looking place. I'd post some pictures from elsewhere on the internet but I'm still a little scared of that "may be subject to copyright" thing. Instead, here's a link to the Bannerman Castle Trust with more info and some pictures: http://www.bannermancastle.org/
Here's one picture, I think it's kind of old and it doesn't really do it justice:

According to an article I just read, the Bannerman family that owned/developed the island were descendants of the MacDonald clan that mostly got slaughtered at Glencoe. I may be the only person who finds that interesting but I do. That might only be because I've been to Glencoe, though. And just FTR, those MacDonalds were (mostly?) killed by members of the Campbell clan. They went on to make soup. According to my tour guide in Scotland, many people still think of them as traitors... Just thought I'd pass that along, no judging here. (For those who like history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Glencoe Apologies for using Wikipedia.)

Since I have been there, here's a picture that might be of Glencoe:

Edited to fix my sadly unrecognized "sarcasm" html code and to add the following:

While there is more info about the island itself out there, I do think I should mention that part of the castle just collapsed. There's a fund to stabilize the buildings and the need for that is currently more urgent than usual.


  1. That castle looks so cool! I wish I lived in it.

  2. Me too! As long as it doesn't totally fall down.