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K. Kris Hirst

Archaeology Dig 2007: West Point Foundry

By December 6, 2006

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Field School in Focus: West Point Foundry

During the summer of 2007, Michigan Technological University's field school will again be based at West Point Foundry, an industrial archaeological site located at Cold Spring New York. Elizabeth Norris, Assistant Archaeologist at West Point Foundry Preserve, sent along this description of the ongoing research at West Point.

The West Point Foundry was one of America's premier iron works during the 19th century. Established in 1817, this company built several of America's first locomotives, many steam engines for varied applications, equipment for the global sugar industry and a wide range of other heavy cast and forged iron products. One of America's first vertically-integrated manufacturing companies, the foundry is perhaps best known for the production of cannon and shot, especially the Parrott rifled cannon. Some historians credit this gun, developed by the foundry's Superintendent Robert Parrott, for turning the tide of the American Civil War.

Today the West Point Foundry Preserve encompasses 87 wooded acres, owned by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, an organization that is dedicated to preserving natural and historical resources in the Hudson Valley. The site is located in the village of Cold Spring, 55 miles north of New York City. Michigan Tech has been engaged to investigate the archaeological dimensions of the site to aid in this effort. We invite students and volunteers to help in the research process. All participants share in the range of activities that typically occur on a project like this: survey, photography, excavation, and lab work. We run several Open House days to host site visitors, and maintain web updates to keep interested parties informed.

We request one week minimum length of stay for volunteers of at least 18 years old. Experience is not required. Room and Board arrangements are at a summer camp during first session, college dormitory during second session. Both include kitchen facilities. Housing cost is subsidized by the research sponsors. Variable academic credits are available for a tuition fee for either undergraduate or graduate students.

Field school runs from May 14-June 29, 2007 and then there is a session with a smaller crew and volunteer opportunities between July 9 through August 3. Interested parties should contact the project's coordinator, Dr. Patrick Martin Department of Social Sciences Michigan Technological University 1400 Townsend Ave., Houghton, MI 49931. 906 487-2070 or by email Patrick E. Martin These photos were all taken during West Point Foundry excavations last year, and were provided courtesy the West Point Foundry Project.


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