Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle

This is Bannerman Castle located on Pollepel Island on the Hudson River in upstate New York. After purchasing the island, Francis Bannerman wanted a structure built to resemble a Scottish castle but it was always intended to be used as a military surplus warehouse. As I am sure you can tell from the photo it has a bit of an explosive history.

Hudson River

Looking south towards West Point. Breakneck Ridge is on the left and Storm King Mountain on the right. Together they form the gateway to the Hudson Highlands.

 

Francis Bannerman made a living buying and reselling war surplus. This included guns, munitions, swords and military uniforms. His was the original Army Navy store. He purchased ninety percent of the decommissioned weapons from the Spanish-American war and thirty million rounds of ammunition. Eventually he was the largest military surplus buyer in the world. All of this was originally stored at his warehouse in Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, the city wanted him out, bringing him to Pollepel Island.

Bannerman's House

Bannerman’s House on the island.



Both the island and the castle have truly unique stories. Many people believed the island was haunted including the Native Americans who once inhabited the area. They refused to stay on the island at night. Dutch sailors believed the Goblin of lighting and wind haunted it. During the revolution it was used as a trap to sink enemy ships. For about a century afterward it was known for its prostitutes, moonshiners and rumrunners. It truly is a unique little island.

Bannermans Castle

The gardens.



As for the castle, Francis Bannerman had it built from his own designs to resemble a Scottish castle. He chose the island because of its location; right in the middle of the Hudson, visible from the train tracks, it was the perfect advertisement. He had it designed so that the name Bannermans Island Arsenal was visible from across the river. But after Bannerman’s death in 1918 things started to go awry. The powderhouse exploded in 1920 when 200 pounds of black powder were set off. The explosion was so severe that cities across the river shook, debris flew across the river where it landed on the train tracks, and rescuers were kept at bay because of the still exploding ammunition. Somehow, only three people were injured. His family eventually left the island in the 1940’s, though they continued to run the business into the 1970’s. An arson attack in 1969 gutted the castle, leaving the walls unstable. Finally, in December 2009 and January 2010 storms caused the southeast corner and the north wall to collapse. Perhaps the Native Americans were right and the island really is haunted. Or maybe you should just keep powder kegs in a slightly more stable environment.

Bannermans Castle

What’s left of the breakwater system.



What remains of Bannerman Castle can be visited from May through October. You can find out more on the Bannerman Castle Trust website.

mysterypostcards

mysterypostcards

I send postcards with my photos on them. You figure out the location from the clues in the message.

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