Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Historic American technology: Swamp Angels

A couple of markers in Cold Spring, NY shown in 3D from the work I was hired to do there with a number of archaeologists, headed by Joel Grossman, PhD who also formerly wrote for the Encyclopaedia Britannica yearbook, the section on the notable archaeology research in the "Western Hemisphere" reported per annum.

New data:

A Bing view, looking east from the West Point Military Academy across the Hudson River is here at Cold Spring, NY and Constitution Island. Note: interactive in Microsoft's Bing Maps. May not be supported on all machines.

Below, another view, from Google Earth. Similar Google Maps link


Below: Early 20th c. map of 19th c. foundry from Google “Historic Topos


Below: a USGS ca. 1950 (West Point) shows a building at end of the rail pier


Bing Map User Contribution: Historic American technology

Cold Spring, NY: West Point Foundry

1 West Point Foundry Cove

West Point Foundry Cove marsh was remediated (cleaned and restored) by the EPA and private industry as a National Priority Superfund Site (Marathon Battery) in the 1990s. The factory had released cadmium and nickel into the environment in the production of batteries for NIKE missiles, it was reported. The historic West Point Foundry was in the small valley to the north and east.  

2 West Point Foundry dock remains

This is the approximate end of a large dock which had two railroads tracks on it that cross-looped ("frogs") at its end near the marker. Was it used to load and unload ordnance that was not shipped on the mainline? There is a map in the Foundry School Museum nearby. While working there for the EPA, we witnessed its apparent demise, by fire, when a reported waterspout that winter temporarily lowered the Hudson River, exposing the tops of burned pilings all the way out to the marker, which is placed based on map and the visual emergence anomaly seen in these photos. Nearby land-filled peninsula is not the remains of the historic rail-head but a more modern one, for the Chicago Bridge and Steel Co., which ended around the end of 1912.

Bing Map showing "2". Could it use a buoy or a light? Like Lake Mendota Buoy - GAMIS


Below: The West Point Foundry Preserve – map of trail and historic foundry remains

Scenic Hudson, Inc. from Rutsch report and Michigan Technological U. industrial archeology field-schools.

Industrial archeologist Edward Rutsch's, et al., report described the site as a "sea of bricks". I think it resulted in part, from the large chlorine fire, (“pool supplies” pers. comm. ca. 1991, Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., employee) on the concrete pad nearer the marsh, (appears on various aerials and on the map here) and, as I recall, involved hundreds of firefighters for over 24 hours in the 1970s. Source: newspaper clippings file in the Foundry School Museum which don't state the cause. The burnt “Bridge Shop” is also shown there, ca. 1913. 

Initial map of  West Point Foundry Cove

EPA "Marathon Battery" National Priority Superfund Site Cold Spring, NY


"Bridge Shop" and rail yard for structural steel, Chicago Bridge & Steel Co. until ca. 1912.

Grossman and Associates, aiding remediation designers Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.

What was recovered from the archaeology of Foundry Cove, along with other features connected with the "iron age", was the wooden platform and gun carriage pintle as depicted in the document photo below: the so-called “Swamp Angel” after it exploded bombarding Charleston in 1863. The State of South Carolina has yet to find any remains of the man-made island in the swamp but a marker is where it probably was.


Morris Island (vicinity), South Carolina. The "Marsh Battery" or "Swamp Angel" after the explosion, August 22, 1863 – Library of Congress link.

A simple search brings other “swamp angel” photos some have nothing whatever to do with it, i.e., a “Swamp Angel Bulletin” which shows the beginning of advertisement on the outside of buildings “Store on corner of city block is completely covered with advertisements” others appear wrong. Compare, however, the plaque on the public display:

and the Wikipedia entry on the Parrott rifle (“Swamp Angel” section) and you will see there seems to be a disagreement on the facts of that event in 1863 in the number of shells before the gun became inoperable. It also explains that it was the "First" so the Library of Congress photos are of other(s) that followed.

1 comment:

  1. I worked in that site 20 years ago, as part of Dr. Grossman crews. I'm happy to know I contribute to the early efforts to preserve such important archaeological remains.