9 Deserted Islands Where Time Has Stopped
Some islands were used for military purposes, for the construction of individual buildings or for permanent settlements in which people lived for centuries. However, loss of strategic position, natural disasters, nuclear tests or simply wish to live in civilization, led to the abandonment of these islands. This is a list of deserted islands, where time has stopped, where homes, buildings and streets standing untouched for decades.
1. Hirta, Scotland, UK
Hirta is the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago, on the western edge of Scotland. This island may have been permanently inhabited for at least two millennia, the population probably never exceeding 180 (and certainly no more than 100 after 1851). The entire population was evacuated from Hirta in 1930, due to disease and outside influences.
Currently, temporary residents of this island are defence personnel, conservation workers, volunteers and scientists who spend time here during the summer months.
2. Holland Island, Maryland, USA
Holland Island is a marshy, rapidly-eroding island in the Chesapeake Bay, in Dorchester County, Maryland, west of Salisbury. The island was once inhabited by watermen and farmers, but has since been abandoned.
By 1910, the island had about 360 residents, making it one of the largest inhabited islands in the Chesapeake Bay. The wind and tide began to seriously erode the west side of the island, where most of the houses were located, in 1914. This forced the inhabitants to move to the mainland. [link, map]
3. North Brother Island, New York, USA
North Brother Island is an island in the East River situated between the Bronx and Riker’s Island. Its companion, South Brother Island, is a short distance away. The island was uninhabited until 1885, when Riverside Hospital moved there from Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt Island). Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as the Smallpox Hospital to treat and isolate victims of that disease. Its mission eventually expanded to other quarantinable diseases. The hospital was closed around 1940.
Now a bird sanctuary, the island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public. Most of the original hospitals’ buildings still stand, but are heavily deteriorated and in danger of collapse. A dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings, and from the 1980s through the early 2000s it supported one of the area’s largest nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron. However as of 2011 this species has abandoned the island, for unknown reasons. [link, map]
4. Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Bikini Atoll is an atoll, listed as a World Heritage Site, in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands. Humans have inhabited the atoll for at least 2,000 years. Bikini was visited by only a dozen or so ships before the establishment of the German colony of the Marshall Islands in 1885.
Between 1946 and 1958, twenty-three nuclear devices were detonated at Bikini Atoll. The Micronesian inhabitants, who numbered about 200 before the United States relocated them because of radiation, ate fish, shellfish, bananas, and coconuts. A large majority of the Bikinians were moved to Kili Island as part of their temporary homestead, but remain there today and receive compensation from the United States government for their survival. [link, map]
5. Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island, commonly called Gunkanjima, is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island’s most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it.
The island has been administered as part of Nagasaki city since 2005; it had previously been administered by the former town of Takashima. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from undersea mines. [link, map]
6. Great Blasket Island, Ireland
Great Blasket is the principal island of the Blaskets, County Kerry, Ireland. The island wasinhabited until 1953, when the Irish government decided that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the remaining population. It was the home of three noted Irish writers: Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin.
Until 1953, the inhabitants of Great Blasket Island formed the most westerly settlement in Ireland. The small fishing community (even at its peak the population was hardly more than 150) mostly lived in primitive cottages perched on the relatively sheltered north-east shore. Today, the island was abandoned and sold to the state. [link, map]
7. Stroma, Scotland, UK
Stroma is an island off the northern coast of the Scottish mainland. Once populous, this uninhabited island is owned by a Caithness farmer who uses it to graze sheep. In the past Stroma had a population of about 550, which by 1901 had reduced to around 375. The population continued to decline through the 20th century, and most of the last residents left in the early 1960s to work on the construction of the Dounreay power station. The last two families left around 1962.
The number of ruined houses shows how well populated the island was at one time. In the centre of the island is a church with a bell tower. Next to the church is the manse which is kept habitable for use by visiting shepherds, particularly at lambing time. Stroma is now aconservation area with an area fenced off to protect the rare plants from the sheep. [link, map]
8. Great Isaac Cay, Bahamas
Great Isaac Cay is a small Bahamian island located about 20 miles (32 km) of the Bimini Islands. It is accessible only by boat. The most prominent feature of the island is its lighthouse, which was erected in 1859, and stands about 151 feet (46 m) tall. In 1969 the island was abandoned by the two keepers who were guarding the lighthouse and other buildings.
The grounds are open to the public, although the lighthouse itself has had stairs removed to block access to the interior of that structure. The keepers’ house, cistern, and assorted buildings are crumbling into ruins. The derelict collection of abandoned buildings make Great Isaac Cay apopular destination for boaters. [map]
9. Pollepel Island, New York, USA
Pollepel Island is an island in the Hudson River. Also known as Pollopel Island and Bannerman Island, it is the site of Bannerman’s Castle. This Island is about 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City and about 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Hudson River’s eastern shore.
The principal feature on the island is Bannerman’s Castle, an abandoned military surplus warehouse. Today, the castle is property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is mostly in ruins. While the exterior walls still stand, all the internal floors and non-structural walls have since burned down. The island has been the victim of vandalism, trespass, neglect and decay. [link, map]