ASME Designates West Point Foundry a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark
NEW YORK (September 26, 2019) – The West Point Foundry was a site of extraordinary American engineering work and talent. Established in 1817 to supply the U.S. government with artillery, the ironworks began production in 1818 and employed hundreds of workers who produced some of the country's first steam engines, locomotives and ironclad ships, as well as pipes for New York City's water system and Parrott guns, cannons credited with winning the Civil War. The foundry's owners also were business pioneers, among the first to control every aspect of manufacturing, from raw material to product distribution. The foundry nurtured many proofs-of-concept that advanced American mechanical engineering.
Recognizing the importance of West Point Foundry in the history and evolution of mechanical science and technology, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has designated the site as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Including West Point Foundry, 272 artifacts from around the world have been designated historic mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections or heritage sites. The ASME History and Heritage Committee selects these artifacts based on their engineering attributes, role in the evolution of the mechanical engineering profession, and significance to society in general.
ASME President Richard Laudenat will present a plaque commemorating the landmark designation at a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 5, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at West Point Foundry Preserve, 68 Kemble Avenue, Cold Spring, N.Y. Tours of the preserve will follow the ceremony, which will take place in front of the foundry’s 1865 office building. Erin Riley, senior vice president, and Rita Shaheen, director of parks and community engagement for Scenic Hudson, Inc., will receive the plaque.
“West Point Foundry Preserve is not only a beautiful park, but an outdoor museum that educates visitors about the early days of American industry and engineering,” says Laudenat. “ASME is pleased to formally recognize the foundry’s historical significance as part of the American Industrial Revolution and the evolution of mechanical engineering, as well as its role in inspiring new generations of engineers.”
After foundry operations ceased in 1911, nature slowly reclaimed the land. Scenic Hudson has created a preserve to protect the remains of West Point Foundry, which sits on approximately 90 acres in Cold Spring, Putnam County, N.Y. and is the most intact example of a manufacturing site of its kind dating from the early decades of American industrialization. Today, trails follow old rail beds and pass extensive remains of the casting house, boring mill and other essential foundry structures that led to the preserve's inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. New interpretive features—including a full-scale sculptural model of the 36-foot water wheel that powered the boring mill (photo attached*)—tell the story of the site's contributions to America's Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the cleanup leading to its ecological renewal.
Since 1996, Scenic Hudson has invested more than $8 million in West Point Foundry Preserve, including acquisition of the property, funding eight years of on-site research by students and faculty in Michigan Technological University’s Industrial Archaeology Program, and emergency stabilization of the 1865 Office Building, the foundry’s sole remaining structure. The preserve has been honored with the 2014 New York State Historic Preservation Award, given annually by the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the 2014 John Augustus Roebling Award from the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology.
About Scenic Hudson
Scenic Hudson helps citizens and communities preserve land and farms and create parks where people experience the outdoors and enjoy the Hudson River. We also bring together people, businesses and government to protect the river and natural resources that are the engines of the valley’s local economies. Started in 1963 by a handful of citizens who cherished the simple pleasures of the outdoors along the Hudson, Scenic Hudson is credited with launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today, in the face of new challenges and the effects of climate change, we are dedicated to making the Hudson Valley a great place to live, work and play. Our focus is on strengthening and maximizing benefits all can enjoy from the region’s great assets—beautiful open spaces, working farms, and vibrant cities and town centers. www.scenichudson.org
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real-world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world. For more information visit asme.org.
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