Well, the leaves hadn’t yet peaked, but we had a stunning day. Bannerman Castle is located on Pollepel Island, half an hour by boat from Beacon.
Our tour guide was Neil Caplan, the Executive Director of the Bannerman Castle Trust, which is working to maintain and restore the island (a massive undertaking–please consider making a donation through Paypal or Crowdrise). The structures aren’t stable, and we were issued hard hats as though collapse were imminent (which it may be; part of the main tower fell during a winter storm in 2009).
Neil is a character, and we heard many stories, true and apocryphal, about the island and its structures. Bannerman, a Scottish-born munitions dealer, built his arsenal at the turn of the century in the form of a Scottish castle. References to thistles and the St. Andrews flag abound. Over the years fire, weather, neglect and other misfortunes have left it in ruins. Poison ivy vines (possibly planted intentionally to keep people away) seem to support what’s left.
The island, part of the Hudson Highlands State Park, is closed to the public, but you can visit on a tour between May and October; in the meantime you’ll get a glimpse of it from Metro-North or Amtrak, where the giant lettering on its facade acts as a billboard for an illustrious story.