Hikers at West Point Foundry Preserve enjoy a tranquil soundtrack—the gentle murmur of Foundry Brook. That's a far cry from the din greeting 19th-century visitors to the sprawling West Point Foundry that filled this ravine. Established in 1818 to supply the U.S. government with artillery, the ironworks employed hundreds of workers who produced some of America'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.
After foundry operations ceased in 1911, nature slowly reclaimed the land. 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. Exciting new interpretive features—including a full-scale sculptural model of the 36-foot water wheel that powered the boring mill—tell the story of the 87-acre site's contributions to America's Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the cleanup leading to its astonishing ecological renewal. Now West Point Foundry Preserve is a great place to escape the din while connecting with the Hudson Highlands' past and its diverse wildlife.
Experience the sights and sounds of a 19th-century ironworks: Take a unique audiovisual tour of West Point Foundry Preserve by visiting http://www.foundrytour.org/ using any web-enabled mobile device. For optimal enjoyment, headphones are recommended for on-site visits.
For more information about West Point Foundry, visit the Putnam History Museum at 63 Chestnut Street, a short walk from the preserve. Housed in the former foundry school for teenage apprentices and employees' children, it now contains a permanent installation on the foundry featuring artifacts, documents and art, including John Ferguson Weir's 1866 painting, The Gun Foundry.