Friday, August 21, 2009

Bannerman's Island

The weekend before the move, instead packing like intelligent, well-prepared people would have done, I split town to escape. After all the driving and traffic of earlier trips in July, I planned a car-free getaway to make the weekend as stress-less as possible (and eco-friendly).

I spent the weekend in Cold Spring and Beacon, an easy and beautiful trainride away from New York City. Both towns have main streets and several attractions within walking distance of the train stations, so I didn't have to get in a car once. It was amazing! I spent my nights in Cold Spring, which has several nice restaurants to choose from for dinner, and stayed at Pig Hill Inn a perfectly nice b&b there and then took the train one stop further to Beacon for our daytrips.

The trip included a tour of Bannerman's Island. I'd passed this dilapidated castle in the middle of the Hudson River several times on train rides to the city during college and wondered what it was.

Turns out you can tour Bannerman's Island on the weekends and learn about the island's history. Francis Bannerman bought the island in 1900 and built several imposing castle-like structures of his own design to stores arsenals for his weapons and ammunitions business.

In time, Bannerman also constructed a beautiful home on the island with an amazing river view. The island was used by the Bannerman family and friends into the 1930s, until the business dried up and the island fell into disrepair.

The island is technically a New York State park, but is managed by the Bannerman Castle Trust, which leads the tours and is raising money to restore some of the structures to create a museum. After spending our sunny Saturday afternoon on the island, I somewhat disagree with the Trust's goals. In my opinion, it would be a much more valuable use of money to to establish the island as a park open for public recreational use instead of as restricted place that people can only access under the supervision of Trust staff. I understand this may be difficult due to the possibility of unexploded ammunition hidden in the ruins, but still...

Wouldn't you like to take a boat or kayak there for a summer afternoon, explore the meandering pathways, and set down a blanket for a picnic with a spectacular view? I certainly wished that's what I was doing instead of following around the obsessed tour guides who yelled at us when we strayed from their path.


  1. Oh my gosh, it looks beautiful. Barring explosions it would be a really pretty place for a wedding. It makes me think of the ruins Ross got married in in Friends.

  2. O wooooow. It really looks lovely, crazy Trust rules aside!

  3. Ace, I never saw that episode of Friends. I didn't even think of it but you're right about weddings, of course they'd have to do a lot of clearing out the overgrown plants first!

    JC, thanks for stopping by!

  4. Holy crap, that place looks amazing! I love rundown castle ruins, it looks like the perfect place for a mystery and a ghost. I googled the crap of Bannerman's Island and if I ever come to NY, it's definitely on the list of places to visit.

  5. Hi Julia. I always see your comments over at Meag's blog, so I thought I'd pop over and check out your little piece of the Internet.

    The castle looks amazing! I have to agree with you about the restrictions that are in place. It seems like the sort of place that should be open to the enjoyment of the public.