Pollepel Island: New York’s Explosive Island in the Hudson River

7:25 am  |  14.10.2021

It was the dream of a very successful Scottish businessman. The arms dealer Francis Bannerman built a pompous castle at the beginning of the 20th century on an island in the Hudson River. This did not serve as a residence, but as ammunition stores – until it flew into the air.


It was in 1901, as the Scottish entrepreneur Francis Bannerman VI. On an insignificant Eiland, about 100 kilometers from Downtown New York, a luxurious residence was built. The fact that his choice was calculated on Pollepel Island did not necessarily have to do with a special desire for seclusion: Bannerman needed the first place to store his goods – and that would have been unthinkable in the middle of New York. Because he was probably one of the largest arms traders on the entire east coast at this time.

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Bannerman Castle was more depot from the start as a residential building. The Scot had bought nearly all Spanish weapons from the Spanish-American War of 1898 at an auction. His plan was to resell his goods to American private individuals. The small island in the Hudson River served only as intermediate storage for pistols, guns, and tons of black powder. Most of the time Bannerman and his family spent much closer to the city center in a house.

From the mainland, the magnificent construction in Scottish style was well recognized. With Bannerman’s death in 1918, the sparkling times of the castle were passed not once 20 years ago. In a massive explosion, an estimated 200 tonnes of black powder went into the air and destroyed large parts of the complex in 1920. BannerMan’s former flagship project Verkam in the following decades before the state of New York bought the island in 1967 and removed all remaining weapons and explosives. The plan, from Pollepel Island to make a sight, was stopped by a big fire in 1969. Then the island was blocked for the public.

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Pollepel Island

Who drives from New York City from about 100 kilometers by train the Metro North-Hudson-Line, which will not trust his eyes at the out-of-the-window look – because only not far from the most advanced millions of metropolis of the United States rise On a small island in the Hudson River ruins looking like the remains of an old castle. And that’s exactly what they are, because here, on Polleflepel Island, Bannerman Castle is located – the most explosive castle in the world.

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And that is literally to understand because the monument built in 1901 from the Scottish businessman Francis Bannerman served as a camp for his immense arsenal of weapons, which he had collected as a trader during various wars and again sold again as needed and demand. The construction was probably a mixture of megalomania and pure necessity because Bannerman had bought a fabulous 90 percent of all military devotionals from the American-Spanish War (1898).

The “New York Times” therefore writes that Bannerman Castle had been the most dangerous place in the state of New York at the time. The castle as well as a smaller living lock made the businessman a testimony of his Scottish heritage on the island because the Bannerman family was immigrated in 1854 from Scotland in 1854, according to the “Hudson River” site, starting their business with army requirements and weapons.

Bannerman Junior started with his career at the age of 13 and was apparently so successful as a trader that the website even claims, estimated to be an estimated half of all the cannons exhibited today in the entire US, had once been made or sold via Bannerman. He has also accepted orders of over 20 million cartridges and 100,000 objects such as rifles and saddles during the Russian-Japanese War. His catalogs were true books and are still desirable for weapons collectors and lovers.

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Explosions, Fire, and Murder

Two years after Bannerman’s death, in 1920, it finally came to a tremendous explosion on his island, who destroyed his weapon camp for the most part – Family Bannerman still lived a lot of years further in her private-free on the island, her business with the weapons was given to her The seventies upright. In 1967, the family sold the island to the state of New York – one wanted to build a public park here, but these plans were destroyed by a devastating fire, which destroyed all the buildings on the island. Only the façade of the old weapons camp castle was preserved.

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In 2015, the explosive island once again made headlines, when a man at a Kayaktour drowned in front of the shores of the island – as it turned out later, his fiance had deliberately drowned him after preparing his Kayak. If you want to visit the island today, you can book a guided tour of the Bannerman Castle Trust founded in 1992. Alone, you should not enter the island under any circumstances, because of the old ruins, of course, there is a risk of collapse.


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