Bannerman’s Castle might look like a medieval European storybook setting, but these American ruins have seen their fair share of disaster.
The only real occupants of the castle were weapons of war and temperamental explosives, housed in this elaborate military surplus warehouse built in 1901.
Just 50 miles North from New York City, located on the Hudson River’s Pollepel Island, the arsenal that wouldn’t look out of place in a Game of Thrones episode was built and designed by Francis Bannerman VI, a Scottish-American who made a name for himself buying and selling surplus military equipment at the close of the American Civil War.
The castle finds itself in its current abandoned following an incident in the 1950s which saw one of Bannerman’s only ferryboats smash into the island during a storm, causing an explosion on impact.
Prior to that in 1920, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded in a major accident, which sent Bannerman’s business into a slow and steady decline. In 1967, the mysterious island was purchased by the New York State and opened to the public for tours. But in 1969, yet more disaster wreaked havoc on the arsenal when a fire devastated the roof and flooring, rendering the island off-limits once again.
After decades of trespassing, vandalism, neglect and decay, by 2009, nearly half of the structure’s front and east walls had collapsed.
Lately, things finally seem to be looking up for Bannerman’s castle however, with its very own trust working to permanently stabilise the remaining structure. Bannerman’s is once again open to the public and every third Sunday from May through October, you can hope aboard the Estuary Steward, ride over to the island and wander around on a self-guided tour while being serenaded by classical musicians.
You can even bring a picnic and enjoy the live music concert with Bannerman’s ghostly castle as your backdrop– just watch out for wobbly walls! Historians are on hand to answer questions about the island and kayak tours are also available.
(Pollepel Island, NY; Island Walking Tours are Sat-Sun at 11am and 12pm, May-Oct. Cruise info available at + 1-855-256-4007; Bannermancastle.org)