For almost two centuries, US military firearms were manufactured at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts . Forged for the whole nation. Munitions, engineering innovations, and superior firearms emerged at Springfield Armory, until the factory closed in 1968.
The factory was opened in 1777 in Springfield. At the time it was the main center in the United States for the manufacture of US military firearms. Springfield Armory became famous during the American Revolutionary War, then as the scene of the Shays’ Rebellion and numerous technological developments of global importance. In addition, the first hourly wages were paid here.
Today, Springfield Armory is a museum with the world’s largest collection of historic American weapons.
It is preserved as a Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Visitors to Springfield Armory can see the nation’s first armory with its historic weapons collection, historical archives, buildings and landscapes.
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History of the Springfield Armory Museum
In 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, under George Washington, the Springfield Armory was founded. The location was chosen because Springfield is at the intersection of three rivers, including the Connecticut River. From here the weapons could easily be transported to the four big cities of New York, Boston, Albany and Montreal. In addition, Springfield is very well protected by the Enfield Falls waterfall on the Connecticut River, making it difficult to attack.
Colonel Henry Knox, an officer working under George Washington, chose Springfield as a suitable location for the workshops. A first depot for war material was set up in front of Springfield Armory in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, near the theater of war at the time.
At the end of 1777 the construction of barracks, shops, warehouses and magazines began on a hill near Springfield. Almost simultaneously, ammunition production, musket repairs and, a little later, the production of limbers began in Springfield Armory.
After the American Revolutionary War, all guns and ammunition were taken to Springfield for safekeeping. In addition to weapons and ammunition, clothing, food and other material were also stored and manufactured.
In 1782, Congress voted to continue operating and expanding the Springfield Arsenal. A new powder magazine for 4,000 barrels of gunpowder was built, which was used even until 1842.
In 1786 came the Shays’ Rebellion, led by the solate Daniel Shays. The rebels wanted to steal weapons to occupy local courts and prevent them from expropriating their heavily indebted lands. The uprising was crushed shortly thereafter.
In 1794 the government decided to manufacture the army weapons in the future in their own country. In 1795 the Springfield Armory produced the first muskets for their own armies. A second state arms factory, the ” Harpers Ferry Armory ” was established in the state of Virginia. Harpers Ferry started production in 1800.
Springfield became the national center for invention and development in the arms industry in the United States. In 1819, Thomas Blanchard developed a special lathe for the consistent mass production of rifle butts.
Since third-party manufacturers also emerged in the arms industry, it was determined that from 1799 all weapons had to bear the name of the manufacturer, a serial number, the designation “US” and the image of the US eagle to explain their origin. On February 8, 1815, a new law came into force that made special demands on the manufacture of weapons, so that there were no defects in the weapons caused by insufficient production.
After the destruction of the Harpers Ferry Armory in 1861, Springfield Armory was the only place the US government made guns until 1862 when the Rock Island Arsenal was founded in Illinois.
In addition to the manufacture of weapons, Springfield also worked on the further development and development of machine tools for series production. Better and better weapons and pistols were being produced. At the time the United States went into World War I, many rifles came from Springfield Armory.
In 1919, John Garand in Springfield developed a semi-automatic rifle that was also used in the Vietnam War. At that time, in addition to rifles and machine guns, grenade launchers and equipment were also manufactured in Springfield Armory.
Other areas of work that Springfield Armory developed over the years were research and new developments, repair, prototyping and the inspection and acceptance of weapons from third-party suppliers. Until the factory closed in April 1968.
Closure and rebirth as a National Historic Site (1968-present)
In 1968, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced the closure of the Springfield Armory. After the closure, the most important buildings were renovated and prepared for new uses. Today, the Springfield Armory is a listed museum on the National Register of Historic Places managed by the National Park Service.
The Springfield Museum houses collections of weapons and paraphernalia of war. Part of the building houses the Massachusetts technical college, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).
Six years after the Springfield Armory closed, Robert Reese took over the name and in 1974 founded Springfield Armory, Inc., a new gun shop in Geneseo, Illinois.
Activities at the Springfield Armory Museum
Group tours are regularly offered on the grounds and at the Springfield Armory Museum. There are also regular concerts and events. The Armory Day in June is particularly popular when the Civil War is reenacted.
Opening times & admission prices Springfield Museum
The Springfield Armory National Historic Site Museum is open June 1 through October 31, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November 1st to May 31st, Springfield Armory NHS will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Springfield Museum is closed on the following days: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
General admission is free. There is a fee for special events and activities.
Address of attraction Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square, Suite 2
Springfield, MA 01105