The West Point Foundry & The Parrott Gun: A Short History - Purple Mountain Press


by Charles Isleib and Jack Chard

From the introduction:

"The West Point Foundry, one of America's famous early ironworks, was built on a flat sandy area close to the Hudson River. It included a stone blast furnace to make iron from local ore and large water-powered lathes capable of machining large canons. The company, which included a branch in New York City, made locomotives, ships' engines and boilers, equipment for mills, and other large machinery parts. The products from Cold Spring were shipped on the river to New York and other destinations. When the Civil War began, production was concentrated on making guns, projectiles, and gun-carriages. The foundry's best-known product was the Parrott gun, justly famous for its range and accuracy. From 1978 to 1979, under the authority of the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966m research was contucted on the history and significance of this important early industrial complex."

"In telling the story of the West Point Foundry this book gives a micro-view of Amerincan heavy industry in the early 19th century. The writing is crisp. Technical terms and manufacturing details crystal clear. A wealth of interesting history and pictures is packed into its pages.

Material and illustrations for the book were researched and obtained from original papers and records from the archives of the Putnam County Historical Society and Foundry School Museum in Cold Spring, the fountainhead of West Point Foundry artifacts and information.

During the War of 1812 the United States was perilously lacking domestic sources of cannons for defense. Heavy ordanance had to be imported from abroad. Alarmed by this situation President James Madison proposed building four foundries capable of producing war material. West Point Foundry was chosen as the New York site. . . . By the end of the Civil War new technology in steel manufacturing made iron cannons obsolete. This sounded the death knell for the foundry that contributed so much to the growth of America's early industry, and to the Civil War effort." --Minette Gunter, The Nimham Times Magazine, Spring 2000

Charles Isleib and Jack Chard are retired metallurgists with a deep interest in the history of iron foundries.

38 pages, illustrated, 5.5 x 8.5, 2000
$6.50 booklet--A Purple Mountain Press original

Other books in our Short History Series:
New York State Canals: A Short History

Copyright © 2000 Purple Mountain Press. All rights reserved.