Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15, 2012

I left New Milford this morning and headed up US202 to Westfield, MA and then on into Springfield.  Finding the Springfield Arsenal wasn't easy due to a lack of road signs, but I eventually stumbled onto it.  The arsenal was very interesting.  It had been established in 1794 and the request of George Washington and was in operation manufacturing weapons until Robert McNamara shut it down in 1968.  The complex was huge and had its own power generation (water, then steam, then electricity), its own foundry and forging operations, and its own assembly operations.  Weapons from muzzle-loaded muskets to the M-14 rifle were produced there.

The grounds were beautiful, with a number of 19th-century buildings still in place.  Most of them have been turned into a community college and the museum itself is housed in the former armory.

You can get some idea of the size of the facility from the picture below.  These buildings were all manufacturing and assembly buildings:

The museum itself wasn't large, but it was very informative and held at least one example of every weapon manufactured there.  In the middle of the museum was this display of hundreds of 19th-century muskets manufactured there:

Two of the most famous weapons manufactured there are the 1903 (aught-three) Springfield Rifle used in WWI:

And the M-1 Gerand, in use from 1935 until the late 1950's:

In addition to the weapons on display, quite a bit of information was presented regarding how manufacturing methods evolved over the 174-year history of the arsenal.  From being individually-made by a single craftsman, their methods became more and more automated and standardized over time.  One of the early improvements was this machine (dating from 1845) that could produce a rifle stock by duplicating a pattern, a method still in use today:

Anyway, the Arsenal was fascinating and really informative.  Leaving there, I rode down the street about half a mile to the Springfield Museum, where they were having an Indian motorcycle show.  Indian was the chief competitor of Harley-Davidson up until they went out of business in 1953, and they were produced in Springfield, MA.  The show had some really neat, beautiful bikes:

This is a 1907 single-cylinder model with about 3 horsepower.  I asked the owner (smoking the cigar) if he bought it new.

Some others were simply beautiful:

Remember, these are all owned and have been restored by private individuals.  Just beautiful.

Anyway, after feasting my envious eyes on all this, I left Springfield and headed up SR9 and US7 to Rutland, VT for the night.  I had been to Rutland a couple times with Pat's youngest brother, Brian, to go skiing, but that was about 20+ years ago.  Tomorrow, it's across Vermont and New Hampshire and then down to North Attleboro, MA to have dinner with an old friend, Jim Ellison.

Miles today:  247
Total: 949