Bannerman's Island Arsenal

More of Bannerman's Castle collapsed in yesterday's storm, including all of the north wall of the tower, which had not yet collapsed to any degree. Only the west wall and part of the south wall of the Tower remain. The lodges, the Number Two Arsenal and the Number Three Arsenal still stand. The Mid-Hudson News has an article in today's online edition regarding the latest collapse. Click here to see a photograph of the castle ruins taken this afternoon.

A significant portion of the tower at Bannerman's castle collapsed the weekend of December 26-27. 2009. Please click here for more information.

The Official website of the Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc., can be found at Bannerman Castle and Pollepel Island are closed to the public and accessible only through tours arranged by the Bannerman Castle Trust. Do not attempt to land on the island or enter the harbor surrounding the Island. If you appreciate the existence of a place like Bannerman Castle, please support the work of the volunteers who have helped make such a place accessible to the general public. By visiting the right way, not only do you learn about the site from trained tour guides, but you also help ensure the continued existence and preservation of the site. Preservation is not possible without support from people who want to see these places survive. My images were obtained as a result of volunteering my time and services for the Bannerman Castle Trust. 

Historic Images of Bannerman's Island Arsenal

Bannerman Castle Illumination  1998

Crag Inch Lodge at night, 1999

Bannerman's Castle - The Arsenals,  2000

The Elvis Shrine in the Portal Lodge

Bannerman's Castle Illumination 2007

Post-Collapse, January
7, 2010

Post-Collpase 2, January 30, 2010

On-island visit, March 19, 2010

Night photography, August 27, 2010

Infrared photography 2010

Lodge Stabilization, June 2011


    Day-trippers on the Hudson, be it by boat or by train, or across one of the many bridges, can marvel the majestic natural landscape of the Valley, all the way from the Palisades near New York City, up to the Hudson Highlands past West Point, and beyond.

    Along the way, man made elements of the scenery will distract your eye from the river and the hills. The railroad takes you within a few feet of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside. Jay Gould’s Lyndhurst is visible from the river. And if you are driving east on the Tappan Zee Bridge, look to the top of the hill in the distance in front of you, and you can see Carrollcliffe, a castle that was built approximately the same time as Bannerman Castle.

    Further up the river, at Garrison, Castle Rock, looking like it was transported from the middle of Germany, looms over Route 9 and looks across to West Point. Still in Garrison, Dick’s Castle rises up from the hills, renovated and sparkling white, white as the proverbial white elephant it is.

    Just north of Cold Spring, the traveler passes Storm King on the west and Breakneck on the east. Ahead is Pollepel Island. The many prominent buildings I have mentioned were all built as residences. What sets "Bannerman's Castle" apart is that it was built as a warehouse. Only more glorified than a modern warehouse.

    Bannerman's Island Arsenal was constructed in stages between the years 1901-1918 by Francis Bannerman VI. Bannerman started a business after the Civil War, purchasing military equipment surplus from the U.S. Government at scrap prices, through sealed bids. The business eventually outgrew the Bannerman warehouses in Brooklyn, where large stores of black powder may also have unnerved local residents. The Castle was never a museum, despite the interesting relics that could be found there. Nor was it a store; sales went through the New York store, or shipped direct from the island. So if this place was just a warehouse, then why the conspicuous construction? Certainly none of today’s major e-commerce retailers would waste so much effort and cost on fanciful building meant to temporarily store “stuff.”

South facade, Crag Inch Tower.

    Proud of his heritage, and with a strong interest in the antiquities, Francis Bannerman VI studied castles all over Europe, especially his native Scotland. Piecing together the many designs, some sketched on hotel stationery, the buildings were designed by Bannerman himself. You won’t find Bannerman's Island Arsenal  in the architectural journals of the day because professional architects were not consulted in the design of the structure. There was a residence on the island, and several other buildings were constructed. Ever the astute businessman, Bannerman made his warehouse a giant billboard. Traveling along the river has always been popular; those going by boat or train cannot miss Bannerman's Island Arsenal . So Bannerman plastered his name all over the warehouse. Although the island is officially named Pollepel, Bannerman placed the legend  “Bannerman's Island Arsenal’ on the north and east sides of the Number Three Warehouse. Privately, he referred to the island as Crag Inch, Scottish for "rocky island."

    The Bannerman business used the island until the late 1950s, when the Castle was cleared of  military surplus and live munitions were deactivated. Although a mishap or two occurred during the years of active operation, including the powder house explosion of 1920, it was not until after the State of New York purchased the Island in 1967 and a fire of undetermined origin in 1969 that the buildings fell into their present state of ruin. Now, a Friends organization known as the Bannerman Castle Trust is working with the State of New York towards the goal of stabilizing the Castle and possibly restoring the residence. With featured articles in the New York Times, among other newspapers, and successful ventures that brought artists, students and the public to the Island since the late 1990s, Bannerman’s Castle is getting much deserved attention. Thanks to the efforts of the Trust, the trails have been cleared, and the buildings are now more visible from the river and the railroad. Continued efforts of the Trust have made it possible that New York State has allowed the island to be opened for tours arranged by the Trust  on a more regular basis during summer weekends.

-With information from The Story of Bannerman Island , Charles S. Bannerman, 1962

Crag Inch Tower, color infrared film.

View from the north.

Sunset through the windows.

Information about purchasing Bannerman's Castle  images by Rob Yasinsac can be found at this link.

To volunteer,  become a Friend of the Trust, or make a donation, write:

The Bannerman Castle Trust
PO BOX 843
Glenham, NY 12527
phone:(845)-831-6346 - The official page of the BCT. 

The Bannerman Castle Trust Inc, seeks to raise money to preserve Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island as an historical, educational and cultural site. Paths on the Pollepel Island have been cleared and views of the buildings have been restored, in hopes of allowing general public access in the near future. Access to the island is prohibited and New York State Parks police routinely patrol the Island for trespassers.

Other Contacts:
New York State, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Empire State Plaza, Agency Building 1, Albany, New York, 12238

Bannerman Castle Links : - Tom Rinaldi's Bannerman Castle page. - An overview of the Island's history, illustrated by three Thom Johnson photographs. - A Tribute to an Island.
O'Boyle Photo - Shaun O'Boyle's photos. 
Exploring and Modern Ruins - Xydexx's photos.

Many thanks to Thom Johnson, Jim Logan, Neil Caplan and the Bannerman Castle Trust for providing 
access to the Island, access to historic Bannerman Island photos, and sharing knowledge of the Island. 

Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.

Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.

E-mail Rob Yasinsac

This page copyright © 2010 by Robert J. Yasinsac. All rights reserved. 
Reproducing or copying these  photographs without the permission of Robert Yasinsac is prohibited.