Obscura Society NY: Constellation Over Bannerman's Ruins--A Night Tour - Atlas Obscura
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Fishkill, New York

Obscura Society NY: Constellation Over Bannerman's Ruins--A Night Tour

Explore the ruins of Bannerman Castle as artist Melissa McGill's Constellation lights up the night sky...

Join the New York Obscura Society as we watch Constellation emerge over the crumbling remains of Bannerman's Island Arsenal.

On a small, rugged island in the Hudson Valley sit the castle-like remains of Francis Bannerman VI's ammunitions empire. Immigrating from Scotland as a small child in 1851, Bannerman began selling scrap metal from the harbors at a very young age and founded his own military surplus company when he was just 14 years old. He quickly graduated from selling scrap to canons and full-size Navy ships, and by 1900 Bannerman had such a massive accumulation of military equipment that he was required by law to move his storage outside of city limits. Bannerman relocated to Polepell Island, a small piece of land that his son had discovered while canoeing the Hudson River, where he proceeded to build his own elaborate, castle-like dwelling almost entirely without the help of architects or engineers.

Today, Polepell Island sits in an advanced state of ruin after decades of neglect. Abandoned in 1957 following a series of disastrous occurrences, Bannerman's castle has been left to its own slow decay. Join us for a very special special excursion to the island as we explore what remains of the Bannerman family empire and experience Beacon-based artist Melissa McGill's new large-scale, light-based public art project. As the sun goes down, starry lights will appear one by one with the stars of the night sky creating a new constellation connecting past and present. Join us as we experience the magical transition of Constellation from the shifting light of twilight until the full dark of night from the most spectacular vantage point, on the Hudson River aboard the Estuary Steward.

Tour includes a brief guided walk on the island where you will learn about both Constellation and Bannerman’s Castle and have an opportunity to see breathtaking views of Constellation from the water.


Questions? Email: megan@atlasobscura.com


  • We'll be boarding the 5:14 pm Poughkeepsie Station bound Metro-North train from Grand Central Terminal to Beacon Station, arriving at 6:36 pm. If you'd like to travel with the Atlas Obscura group, meet us at the Grand Central Terminal clock in the main concourse by 5:00 pm.
  • Those traveling by car can meet us at the Beacon Ferry Dock in Beacon, NY at 6:45pm.
  • Our tour will last approximately 2 hours: 1/2 hour each way on the shuttle boat and about 1 hour touring the island (rain or shine).
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Some of the paths and trails are steep and there will be a lot of walking, including 72 stairs.
  • There is no running water on the island, but there are porta potties. Bottled water will be available for purchase on the boat.

Metro-North fare is NOT INCLUDED in the price of the tour. Please purchase your roundtrip train ticket at Grand Central Station.