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16-inch coast artillery gun stamped Watervliet Arsenal 1921

The Watervliet Arsenal /ˈwɔːtərvlt/ is an arsenal of the United States Army located in Watervliet, New York, on the west bank of the Hudson River. It is the oldest continuously active arsenal in the United States, and today produces much of the artillery for the army, as well as gun tubes for cannons, mortars, and tanks. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966.[1][2]

The arsenal was founded in 1813 to support the War of 1812, and was designated as the Watervliet Arsenal in 1817. It occupies 142 acres (57 ha) of land, approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of Albany, New York. The location is adjacent to the Hudson River. The site contains manufacturing, administrative offices, storage areas, and a museum tracing weaponry from the 17th century through modern times. It also contains the Army's Benet Laboratories, which does product development, improvement, research, and testing.

Tenant activities[edit | edit source]

The Arsenal has the historic Iron Building, which currently serves as the Watervliet Arsenal Museum. The museum closed on Oct. 1, 2013 in order to go through a two-year remodeling effort.

The Arsenal also contains Recruiting Station Albany, the headquarters of a United States Marine Corps recruiting station.

On 17 February 2009, the headquarters of the United States Army Albany Recruiting Battalion relocated to Watervliet Arsenal from its old location on Wolf Road.

In addition, the Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership serves as a site manager on behalf of the Army that manages all private sector tenant activity. There are currently 16 private sector tenants on the site.[3]

1813–1823[edit | edit source]

The arsenal was chosen to be built at the edge of the village of Gibonsville, directly opposite Troy, New York. It was chosen to be built there due to its key location on the Hudson River, only 60 miles (97 km) from Lake Champlain, 140 miles (230 km) from New York City, and a short distance via the Mohawk River to Lake Ontario. During the early stages of the War of 1812, attacks could be expected from many key ports and other locations. At the time, the Colonel of Ordnance was Decius Wadsworth; he originally designated the arsenal to produce fixed ammunition and small articles of equipment including gun carriages, drag ropes, ladles, wormers, sponges, and shot. The original plot of land acquired by the Department of Ordnance was 12 acres (49,000 m2). Construction began in the summer of 1813 on fourteen buildings: south and north gun houses, a brick arsenal, two stables, a guard house, commanding officer's quarters, a woodshed, two enlisted men's quarters, a hospital and one office. The cost for the land was US$2,585.

1880s[edit | edit source]

Nearly 70 years after the arsenal produced its first products it was finally thrust into national prominence when in the late 1880s the arsenal became the Army's first large caliber cannon manufacturer. During this period, production moved from the manufacturing of saddles and gun carriages to cannons. Remnants of this period are still in operation today as evidenced by the continued use of historic Building 110, “The Big Gun Shop,” for manufacturing missions. This gun shop once produced the 16-inch guns for the U.S. Navy's battleships.

Today[edit | edit source]

Today's arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for tank, howitzer, and mortar systems. It is also the only domestic manufacturer for U.S. Army large-caliber breeches and gun tubes. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named nhlsum
  2. Robert W. Craig and Lauren Archibald (October 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Watervliet Arsenal PDF (1.92 MiB)". National Park Service.  and Accompanying 23 photos, exterior and interior, from 1984-1985, 1870, and 1875. PDF (4.77 MiB)
  3. http://www.arsenalpartnership.com
  • 1813-1993 The Watervliet Arsenal; A Chronology of the Nation's Oldest Arsenal. edited and compiled by James V. Murray and John Swantek

External links[edit | edit source]

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