Obscura Society NYC: The Ruins of Bannerman Castle - Atlas Obscura

Fishkill, NY

Obscura Society NYC: The Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Explore the crumbling remains of Bannerman's Island Arsenal

Join us for a guided tour of Bannerman Castle, the former island arsenal of eccentric entrepreneur Frank Bannerman VI.

On a small, rugged island in the Hudson Valley sit the castle-like remains of Francis Bannerman's ammunitions empire. Immigrating from Scotland as a baby 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 guided tour of the island as we explore what remains of the Bannerman family empire and delve into the history of this truly unique and fascinating site. 


Questions? Email: megan@atlasobscura.com


  • We'll be boarding the 12:43 pm Hudson line train from Grand Central Terminal to Beacon Station, arriving at 2:14 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 12:30 pm. 
  • Those traveling by car can meet us at the Beacon Ferry Dock in Beacon, NY at 2:30pm; please arrive on time as our boat will leave promptly at 3:00.
  • Our tour will last approximately 2.5 hours: 1/2 hour each way on the shuttle boat and about 1.5 hours 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.