Friday, March 04, 2005
NIKE batteries (not included) and rifled "musket" cannons
Constitution Island, NY: The West Point Foundry was in Cold Spring, NY (on the east shore of the Hudson River and a National Register Historic District), the West Point Academy, seen in this cropped high altitude aerial photo, across the river. This shows the recent Marathon Battery Superfund Priority Site (made NiCad's for missiles) a remediation for the EPA, designed by Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., with an earthen dam in Foundry Cove separated from the marsh by a stone dike (breached). Where a "Great Chain" once stretched across the river to stop the British Navy, a very large dark spot of water appears (shown on a newer USGS map as a purple addition) next to the Metro-North railroad on Constitution Island. I wonder what it is? It is off-limits, part of the Military Academy's property. Fortifications were designed and built there by a "forgotten" Dutch-American patriot, Bernard Romans, Cartographer for the U.S. Continental Army, ("Mercator's World," 1996).
The marsh, Constitution Marsh, part of NY State Parks holdings (partly Audubon refuge before) is said once to have been an experiment in rice production. In the 20th century, the Chicago Bridge and Steel Co. was in the Foundry Cove in Cold Spring until a large fire burned the "Bridge Shop" around 1913. Under the remains of the 500' structure (and surrounding rail-yard) was the wooden "Parrott Gun Platform," on wooden "grillage" a prototype of the "Swamp Angel" created in the marsh of Morris Island, (or James Island) and used to bombard Charleston, South Carolina. Test shots were often fired across the river, once damaging the Cold Spring, NY Catholic Church, the first in the Hudson Valley, which had to be repaired with Federal monies. The first labor action in a Federal facility also occurred in the West Point Foundry, during the Civil War. It is reported to have been manned by secreted technicians with false identities from England and elsewhere, some under "industrial indenture," records of which still exist in the local population.
Additional "extra curricula" experiments went on there. One the "dynamite gun" was constructed of sections of pipe, joined together as a section of pipeline, like allegedly used by Iraqis in the war there with Iran, where over 1 million perished, and fired from a floating barge, a wooden projectile up-river for a number of miles, to prove its feasibility. A similar weapon was developed in the State of Vermont, its "inventor" assassinated on a street in the Netherlands while we investigated this site (Time magazine). There are other "stereo-pair" photo records of weapons in the Cold Spring, NY West Point Foundry School Museum, which may or may not have untold armament stories associated with them. Someone in the history department at West Point Academy should have a look if they haven't already.
The West Point Foundry had offices in New York City, and its ships with supplies ran quickly up and down the Hudson River. Nearby Peekskill, NY had "green" molding sand, said in 1857, to be the only place it was available in New York State, also site of emery deposits, once a sole supplier of that "grit". The Foundry went up for sale in 1873. Most of its "assets" were sold for scrap and melted down, as later, material there was scavenged for WWI and/or WWII(?) I grew up next to the Third Ave. EL (elevated trains) which for years people said we sold as scrap to the Japanese and they fired it back at us, but it didn't come down in the Bronx until the 1950's. A small steam locomotive, from one of the earlier EL's in NYC, ran on rail track around the West Point Foundry in its "cast stanchion pipe" period (many architectural products were produced also in the Foundry Cove), after falling off a NYC EL. The small museum and the Administration Building, ca 1865 on the eastside of Foundry Brook (also called Margaret Brook) across a small bridge and the water races running under a "sea of brick" and perhaps the water power delivery system that stretched miles away, and of course the empty "local tunnel mines" and mine pits in NY and NJ, are all that remain on site of it today. However, at least one bridge in New Jersey, a sugar mill in Puerto Rico, and various other structural elements of buildings from it are still around, along with the distinctive Parrott "rifle" (cannons) with their wrapped band or collar at their breach end. One large Parrott rifled cannon on the U.S.S. Kearsarge, with superior range, sank the notorious C.S.S. Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France, those sailors buried there, (naval guns with a swell on the muzzle early on?) - NYPL 3/8/05). I was told the two small-bore "Napoleon" like cannons at the Veterans Center at Weirs Beach, Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, were "Parrotts", Robert Parker Parrott, one of six brothers from New Hampshire.
Thomas A. Edison "lost his shirt" in a nearby magnetic ore extraction process.
Current "Parrott" research.