Iona Island is one of those spots that keeps paddling on the Hudson interesting. In spite of its unimposing look, it’s 556 acres ooze history. Before European colonization it was called Wa-na-ka-wagh-kin and was a favored fishing spot for the locals.
In colonial days it was bought by the Van Cortland family along with what seems like half the rest of the Hudson valley. In the 1800s it was used to grow produce for the Union Army, became a resort including a carrousel and hotel. Later it was used as a depot for military ordinance.
It remained an arsenal through both World Wars, hosted a small fleet of mothballed ships in the postwar period and eventually, mostly, returned to nature. The ghost ships and arsenal are gone except for a few old buildings.