Tag: NY

Bannerman Island Castle  POB 843  Glenham, NY 12527

Bannerman Island Castle POB 843 Glenham, NY 12527

I recently visited Bannerman Island (Pollepel Island) just outside of Beacon, New York on a cool cloudy day and I highly recommend the twenty minute boat trip to this mysterious and scenic island. The only way to visit the island is by boat or kayak and the ride is very quick depending on the weather and the waves on the Hudson River.

Once you get to the island, you are greeted by the tour guide and then have to walk up 74 steps from the harbor to the ridge of the island so this is NOT ADA compliant.  At the top of the stairs starts the path around the island. Our tour guide that lead the tour had been there since the tours started in 2004 and gave us many insights on the history of the island and its purpose to the Bannerman family.

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Bannerman Island

Our first stop was the Bannerman Munitions Storage facilities that were in the form of a castle that can be seen from the rail system up to Poughkeepsie, NY. For years I thought (as most people do) that this was a home but it was the Bannerman Munitions Warehouse for all the Army surplus items that Mr. Bannerman had brought up here from New York City. All the Military items were stored up here and the orders were fulfilled from this island.

The company has not been in business since the early 60’s and when the children of the founder closed the company after the laws in the Federal Government changed to where private citizens could not sell explosive, it put a damper into operations. In 1967, the storage buildings were destroyed by fire and the compound was a shell of the former factory. The home was also abandoned at the top of the ridge when the family sold the island.

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The Bannerman Island Munitions Storage Facility

Once you leave the former storage facility which is now being held up by stilts because the structure is so weak, you will proceed up the path past the formal gardens that are planted along the trail. The local garden clubs now come to the island to replant Mrs. Bannerman’s formal gardens and beautify the island.

At the top of the point, there is the former home of the Bannerman family that is currently under renovation. It houses a quick tour of the family and there is a small gift shop inside. The porch area has the most amazing views of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountains. Here the Friends of Bannerman Island show movies in the warmer months and hold plays just outside the home. The last movie had been “Abbott and Costello Meet the Frankenstein”, which had been sold out according to the tour guide.

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The Bannerman House and Gardens

As you exit the tour, you will be heading down another flight of stairs to go back to the harbor. Please watch out for poison ivy! It is all over the place. Then it is back on the boat to the Beacon harbor. The tour guide gives you plenty of time to take pictures.

The tours are finished at the end of October and will reopen again in the Spring. You must book on line for the tours through the State website and the boats only hold 44 people so be sure to book in advance of when you want to go.

I had lucked out in that three people did not show up for the 2:00pm tour and I was able to pay cash for the trip.

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For the views alone it is well worth the trip.

 

History of Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island:

Bannerman Castle was built from 1901-1918 by Frank Bannerman IV as a warehouse to store his collection of antique military equipment from the Spanish American and Civil Wars. Bannerman was the father of the Army Navy Store. His  world famous catalogue of military equipment became the “go to” source for collectors.

The island housed seven structures that formed the Scottish baronial castle, including workers apartments, a summer residence and beautiful trails and gardens.

A great fire in 1969 destroyed the interiors and left the shells you see today. Bannerman island opened for tours in 2004.

 

History of Francis Bannerman VI:

Francis Bannerman VI was born on March 24th, 1851 in Northern Ireland and emigrated to the United States in 1854. The family moved to Brooklyn, NY and began a military surplus business by the Brooklyn Navy Yard purchasing army surplus after the Civil War. The family continued to grow the business by buying weapons directly from the Spanish Government before it evacuated Cuba and then purchased 90% of the munitions actioned off by the Federal Government that had been capture by American forces at the close of the Spanish-American War.

The family bought the island in 1900 to store the surplus items to their growing business. The warehouse in New York was too small and too dangerous to keep in the City anymore and they could keep their inventory isolated on the island.

The castle was visible from the water and had a giant advertisement sign right on the arsenal “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” created into the wall of the building. With the change in federal and state laws on selling military weapons and the sinking of the ferryboat that served the island by 1950, the island was abandoned. The island and its buildings were bought by New York State in 1967 and is now run by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

(This information is a combination from Wiki and the island pamphlet)

 

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Fort Delaware  5516 NY Route 97 Narrowsburg, NY 12764

Fort Delaware 5516 NY Route 97 Narrowsburg, NY 12764

Fort Delaware

5516 NY Route 97

Narrowsburg, NY  12764

(845) 252-6660

https://delawareriver.natgeotourism.com/content/fort-delaware-museum-of-colonial-history-narrowsburg-ny/del1b250d73b4094e445

http://sullivanny.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/FortDelaware

Open: Last Weekend in June until Labor Day Weekend (repairs will be made on the facility after that until next year) Friday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm (last tour at 4:00pm) and Monday (Labor Day) 10:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Adults $7.00/ Seniors (62+) $5.00/ Children 4-12 $4.00/Veterans with ID and Children under 5 with adults Free. Special rates for school groups and group tours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48227-d3386995-Reviews-Fort_Delaware_Museum-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fort Delaware is a recreation of an old fort that used to be located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. It is a great place to take children who like to learn from ‘hands on history’ and watch Blacksmiths, Candle makers and farmers wives perform chores and show the way of life at a time before the Revolutionary War.

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Fort Delaware

According to one of the actors I was talking to who was the Blacksmith, this type of fort would not be one people would have lived in full time. It was meant more for when the Native Americans would have attacked the settlement, which he said only happened once and for the most part the settlers and the Native Americans got along well.

As you tour the fort, you will see all the things that were done to support the settlement from  raising poultry and cows, candle stick making, the process to weave wool and flax from the raw materials, to weaving and spinning yarn to the process of making clothes and the work of the Blacksmith in making nails, axes and shoeing for horses.

Inside each of the little cabins, it will show the life inside and outside the fort at that time period including living quarters, a small school, workman’s shops and where the members of the fort did their business for trade. You can also walk the outside  decks that overlook the river to see how the gunneries worked and where the munitions were held.

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The cabins inside the Fort

You can see the entire fort in about an hour and for small children, I think they would find it fascinating. For teenagers, unless they like history, I don’t think they would find it that interesting.  Leave yourself about an hour for touring.

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The inside living quarters

 

History of the Museum:

The Fort Delaware Museum is a recreation of the original fort and was built in 1957 by James W. Burbank, the second Sullivan County historian. Burbank was fascinated with the history of the settlement which at the time was called Cushetunk. He was influenced by the Davy Crockett craze at the time in the 50’s and wanted the fort to be a money making venture. He added things like pillories and stocks which were popular at the time. He ran Fort Delaware from 1957 to 1970 when he sold it to the County. The County of Sullivan runs it under the Department of Parks, Recreation and Beautification (History of Fort Delaware-RecordonLine.com)

History of the Fort:

(From the County of Sullivan Parks & Recreation Department)

Much attention is paid to the people who settled the main cities of New York but those who decided to take on the wilderness are often forgotten. At Fort Delaware, the daily life of the wilderness settler is explored through exhibits, crafts, demonstrations and tours. The Fort is a reconstruction of the original frontier settlement of the Cushetunk settlement on the Delaware River, with its stockades and stout log homes, which offered the only protection from hostile Native Americans and later English troops. The Fort consists of a small settlement entirely surrounded by high log walls or stockades. During your visit, you will see the blockhouse (where arms and ammunition were stored), settlers cabins, a spinning, weaving and barn loom area, blacksmith shop, candle-making shed and much more. Period-dressed interpreters demonstrate 18th century life skills, including: cooking, baking bread, animal care, dipping candles and the firing of a 1/2 pound British swivel cannon.

Background of the Fort:

Fort Delaware is a representation of the first white settlement on the Upper Delaware River called Cushetunk. Today’s Fort represents the development of the settlement over a thirty year period. The original settlers were farmers who came primarily from Central Connecticut and were of English descent. They were searching for more land because it had become too crowded in Connecticut to suit colonial farming techniques. A group of Connecticut men formed “The Delaware Company” and became proprietors. In the traditional New England way of land distribution they owned the land and either sold or leased it to farmers moving into this frontier, these proprietors moved their families to the frontier and never sold their land. The Delaware Company purchased land from the Lenape Indians, with the first deed signed in 1754.

The land purchased was a 10 mile long strip along both sides of the Delaware River (situate in modern day New York and Pennsylvania). Procedures for filing land claims were very different in the 18th Century. Also at that time, the States of Pennsylvania and New York were engaged in a boundary dispute , disputes of other colonies really didn’t matter much to those early Connecticut farmers, so they claimed the land for Connecticut! They called their community “Cushetunk”. To those white settlers, it sounded like what the Lenapes were calling the place. KASH-ET-Unk or “a place of red stone hills”.

By 1760, there were thirty cabins, a gristmill and a sawmill. Each spring saw the arrival of more people willing to hack a new life out of the frontier. These people faced hardships they probably never conceived of in Connecticut. Indian attacks, the remote wilderness, rough winters and the possibly that farming this land would not sustain them. They came into the area during the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763). In 1761, a stockade was erected around three homes to serve as protection for the entire settlement against attack. In 1763, the settlement was attacked by a Lenape war party. The lower part of the settlement was destroyed with no known survivors. By the time the war party moved up the settlement, people had gathered into the Fort for protection. The attackers were held off with two casualties among the settlers.

It is this Fort, which is represented today at Fort Delaware even though it was known as “the lower fort” during the 18th Century. Another Fort was situated in the upper part of the settlement. The Fort was never used as a Military post, only for civilian protection. In 1764, a rafting business was introduced into the community and became very successful. It brought cash into the community on a steady basis and Cushetunk experienced a lot of development. In the years between the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution, the fort was abandoned as the threat of Indian attack decreased and people began building what they called “fair houses”. The period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) was a turbulent time for the people of Cushetunk. Generally, the inhabitants were “Tories” (or those who were loyal to the Crown). However, there were also a handful of patriots or Whigs as well.

As time went on neighbors became hated enemies. Many residents of Cushetunk took up arms for the British and Continental armies. Some fought with local militias. In some instances families were torn, brothers fighting on opposing armies. There were many occurences in the settlement of neighbors (who once depended on each other for survival) fighting, looting and even murdering each other. Some of the Patriots from the settlement fought not far from their homes at the Battle of Minisink on July 21, 1779. After the Revolution, the Patriots returned victorious to reclaim their land and many loyalists left to settle in Canada. Today the descendants of these early settlers can still be in the area.

(This information on the history of Fort Delaware and the settlement was taken from the County of Sullivan Department of Parks and Recreation and I give them full credit on the information. Please see the attached website for more information on the Fort).