If you've ever been on a Metro-North train just south of Beacon, you've no doubt seen, in a half-disbelieved flash, the ruins of a castle poking through the trees on an island in the middle of the Hudson. They are what remains of Bannerman Castle, a mock-Scottish armory and home dating to the early decades of the twentieth century. (An explosion in the armory + abandonment + time = what you see today.) When a friend clued us in to the weekend tours of the island that depart from Beacon and Newburgh, we immediately began planning our visit.
Knowing nothing about the history of the buildings or of the island itself, we were charmed by tales of its life as a cooling tank for unruly Dutch passengers, a meeting ground for nineteenth-century prostitutes and their clients, and the scene of a fairy tale romance. Comparatively, its use by Frank Bannerman to store his massive munitions depot seems a sordid folly, but that story ends with quite a bang and left us with a glorious wreckage.