Tol-in-Gaurhoth began as the Minas Tirith of Finrod Felagund, and was held by Orodreth for his uncle to guard the vale of Sirion. However, Orodreth was powerless to stop Sauron from taking the isle, and fled south. Sauron began breeding large wolves in the isle which he sent evil spirits in, turning them into werewolves.
Ten years later during the Quest for the Silmaril, Beren Erchamion on his quest for the Silmaril enlisted Finrod's aid, but they were captured passing the isle, and their companions slain one-by-one. Finrod saved Beren's life, but died himself.
Lúthien and the Hound Huan came to Beren's rescue, and while Huan killed the wolves Lúthien got control over the isle's magic from Sauron. Sauron was defeated and fled, and Minas Tirith was reduced to ruins. Finrod was buried there. The isle remained clean afterwards, but after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad it was retaken by Morgoth and its towers rebuilt.