Watervliet Arsenal

Last updated
Watervliet Arsenal
Watervliet Arsenal museum.GIF
Historic Iron Building
Watervliet, New York
Coordinates 42°43′06″N73°42′31″W / 42.71833°N 73.70861°W / 42.71833; -73.70861 Coordinates: 42°43′06″N73°42′31″W / 42.71833°N 73.70861°W / 42.71833; -73.70861
Area142 acres (57 ha)
NRHP reference # 66000503
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 13, 1966 [1]
Designated NHLNovember 13, 1966 [2]
16-inch M1920 coast artillery howitzer stamped Watervliet Arsenal 1921 16-inch coast artillery gun stamped Watervliet Arsenal 1921.jpg
16-inch M1920 coast artillery howitzer 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. [2] [3]

Arsenal place for arms and ammunition

An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, or issued, in any combination, whether privately or publicly owned. Arsenal and armoury or armory are mostly regarded as synonyms, although subtle differences in usage exist.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Watervliet, New York City in New York, United States

Watervliet is a city in Albany County in the U.S. state of New York. The population was 10,254 as of the 2010 census. Watervliet is north of Albany, the capital of the state, and is bordered on the north, west, and south by the town of Colonie. The city is also known as "the Arsenal City".


The arsenal was founded on July 14, 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 and storage areas. It also houses the Army's Benét Laboratories, which does product development, improvement, research, and testing.

War of 1812 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire

The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States and the United Kingdom, with their respective allies, from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theater of the Napoleonic Wars; historians in the United States and Canada see it as a war in its own right.

Albany, New York Capital of New York

Albany is the capital of the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Albany County. Albany is located on the west bank of the Hudson River approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of its confluence with the Mohawk River and approximately 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City.

Hudson River river in New York State, draining into the Atlantic at New York City

The Hudson River is a 315-mile (507 km) river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York in the United States. The river originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, flows southward through the Hudson Valley to the Upper New York Bay between New York City and Jersey City. It eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. The river serves as a political boundary between the states of New Jersey and New York at its southern end. Further north, it marks local boundaries between several New York counties. The lower half of the river is a tidal estuary, deeper than the body of water into which it flows, occupying the Hudson Fjord, an inlet which formed during the most recent period of North American glaciation, estimated at 26,000 to 13,300 years ago. Tidal waters influence the Hudson's flow from as far north as the city of Troy.

Tenant activities

The Arsenal has the historic Iron Building, which served as the home of the Watervliet Arsenal Museum. However, the museum was closed on October 1, 2013 for security reasons. [4]

Iron Building (Watervliet Arsenal) building in Watervliet, New York, United States

The Iron Building is a historic building at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, New York. It housed the Watervliet Arsenal Museum until it was closed in fall 2013 for security reasons.

Recruiting Station Albany, the headquarters of a United States Marine Corps recruiting station, is located on the Arsenal.

United States Marine Corps Amphibious warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations with the United States Navy as well as the Army and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

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


The arsenal was chosen to be built at the edge of the village of Gibbonsville, 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.

Troy, New York City in New York, United States

Troy is a city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Rensselaer County. The city is located on the western edge of Rensselaer County and on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Troy has close ties to the nearby cities of Albany and Schenectady, forming a region popularly called the Capital District. The city is one of the three major centers for the Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which has a population of 1,170,483. At the 2010 census, the population of Troy was 50,129. Troy's motto is Ilium fuit. Troja est, which means "Ilium was, Troy is".

Decius Wadsworth United States Army officer

Decius Wadsworth was a Colonel in the U.S. Army before and during the War of 1812. He graduated from Yale University in 1785 with Honors. He was a renowned military organizer, engineer and inventor. In 1812, he was selected to be the 1st Chief of Ordnance for the new U.S. Army Ordnance Department.


Nearly 70 years after the arsenal produced its first products, it gained national prominence when it became the Army's first large caliber cannon manufacturer in the late 1880s. During this period, production changed 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 16-inch guns and many other weapons for the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps.

16"/50 caliber M1919 gun

The 16 inch Gun M1919 (406 mm) was a large coastal artillery piece installed to defend the United States' major seaports between 1920 and 1946. It was operated by the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps. Only a small number were produced and only seven were mounted; in 1922 and 1940 the US Navy surplussed a number of their own 16-inch/50 guns, which were mated to modified M1919 carriages and filled the need for additional weapons.

United States Army Coast Artillery Corps

The U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) was an administrative corps responsible for coastal, harbor, and anti-aircraft defense of the United States and its possessions between 1901 and 1950. The CAC also operated heavy and railway artillery during World War I.

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  1. National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 "Watervliet Arsenal". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-11.
  3. Robert W. Craig and Lauren Archibald (October 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Watervliet Arsenal" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 23 photos, exterior and interior, from 1984-1985, 1870, and 1875.  (4.77  MiB)
  4. Crowe, Kenneth (8 August 2014). "Plans dropped for revamped Watervliet Arsenal Museum". Albany Times Union . Retrieved 10 August 2014.