Monday, August 22, 2005

Gmail - Archaeology and photographs

This is a second try something, went somewhere.

At the West Point Foundry, (in the fifth season of excavation by Michigan Technological University according to the Society of Industrial Archeology, that site in a "sea of brick" [Edward Rutsch et al] from a 24 hour chlorine fire fought by 700 [clippings in the West Point Foundry School Museum] last largely used by the Chicago Bridge and Steel Co., until a fire in 1913 twisted the over 500 ft.(?) long Bridge Shop into ruins. alongside the rail yard on foundry fill) on the east side of the Hudson River in Cold Spring, NY (toponym supplied by George Washington) was an EPA sponsored remediation in Foundry Cove, part of the surrounding environs of Constitution Island, which had fortifications designed by forgotten patriot of Dutch heritage, Bernard Romans, predating the Military Academy, ca. 1803.

Grossman and Associates worked on a number of Superfund sites for the EPA from about 1989-1994 while I was employed there. The West Point Foundry under private control patented the large rifled cannon (more like a rifled musket) that was used to win the Civil War. The company recovered, after cartographic research and a magnetometer survey the remains of perhaps of the prototype of the "Swamp Angel" in the Foundry marsh from a photo of a map in the museum. There is some story of "Swamp Angel" inspiring the only known shooting on White House grounds, about a man and a woman, according to a Westchester Historical Society correspondence.

Another part of the site had stereo-pairs photos from about the time the Foundry was for sale (with main offices in NYC) taken from various distances. One was enigmatically showing perhaps four foundry houses though it was thought at first to show only two. The other two, though the heat, haze, some smoke, and some funny developer, were perhaps of the "Virginia" foundation style shown in Glassey's work of Virginia house patterns, a double wing with a central "square" of stone construction, perhaps showing some of the earlier designers there. After the "jungle" was cleared off the hillside, where the hundreds of trucks would be brought down from the high road to construct a dike or dam in the cove to de-water the muds to be combined with concrete and hauled out on the previous rail-bed reutilized, as it was arrived at from study, instead of through the town of Cold Spring, the foundations were photo-grammetrically recorded with a Rolleimetric system in development with the Canadian firm Prometric Technologies of Markham. Ontario who provided the training, advice and expertise we used to record some plans, profiles, and surfaces for 3D reconstruction on Intel 40386/387 computers (earlier cpu and math unit).

I am not familiar with the other design of projecting photos onto the landscape. Many of the plans and profiles I reconstructed didn't end up in the reports since the photos are usually stunning when so well lit. The stereo-pair photos (of which there are others, i.e., "the dynamite gun" made out of pipe sections, when the foundry made many iron building "floor-to-ceiling" supports is documented and an "inventor" of a similar system in Vermont was assassinated in Amsterdam while we were in the field, later Iraq was accused of having similar designs, and other late 19th century arms are seen, perhaps also developed there, where R.P Parrott patented a rifled cannon with an outside band of metal, which was used to win the American Civil War. Though the larger examples are often discussed, it was the smaller mobile 20 pounders which were probably most effective (would explain the 30,000 gun carriages and just over 1 million shells).

If the stereo-pairs of the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY had not existed I doubt as much archaeologically would have been excavated under the greenhouses in the marsh and on the hill next to town and the schoolhouse museum.

I did sign a 10 year silent partner agreement and I don't think any of this discusses the actual remediation designed by Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. so I didn't think permission was needed. But as they say the lawyer that has himself as a client, which I'm not...

George Myers

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