• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL INFORMATION

Where is Springfield Armory NHS located and what is the travel distance to the site?Springfield Armory NHS is located in the southwestern part of Massachusetts about 90 miles west of Boston and just north of the Connecticut, about twenty miles north of Hartford.

How much does it cost to visit the park? The park is open free of charge, including the Museum.

Is there lodging in the park? No.

What is there to do at Springfield Armory NHS? The grounds are open for walking and touring to view the Historic buildings. The Museum, with its world-class collection (industrial displays & US military firearms- largest number of US weapons in the world) is open free of charge in the circa 1848 Main Arsenal building. Inside the Museum, one fifth of the collection is displayed with the aid of an 18-minute orientation film and a dozen video kiosks. Restroom facilities are in the Museum (sorry, no cafeteria on site and no food allowed in the Museum). Occasional public & school programs as well as scheduled special events are provided free of charge. A Musuem Store offers many books and souvenirs. Parking is free infront of the Museum which is wheelchair-accessible.

What is there for children to do at Springfield Armory NHS? The Museum offers, year round, the Junior Ranger program with a Museum search, dress-ups, and other activities. A twice-life sized model of the middle of a working Springfield flintlock musket invites children and adults alike to work the action and learn how to handle "prime & load".

Are pets allowed in the park? Pets must be leashed and attended to or otherwise physically restrained at all times. Please do not bring pets to ranger-led activities. Service dogs or sight-seeing dogs may accompany their owner to all park locations unless the area is closed to visitors. No pets are allowed in the Museum.

HISTORY

How old is Springfield Armory NHS? Congress established the National Historic Site in the mid-1970's shortly after the historic Springfield Armory closed in 1968.

When was the historic Springfield Armory established? Originally created here as the main arsenal for the Continental Army in 1777 during the Revolutionary War (where ammunition was manufactured, weapons repaired and stored, artillery maintained, and army supplied stock-piled), the arsenal was ordered to become a full-fledged manufactory, or Armory, of flintlock muskets in 1794 on orders from President Washington. Over the next 174 years, the first national armory manufactured and developed the nation's military weapons in the unhappy event of war. In 1964, Sec. of Defense McNamara decided that private contractors could make all the nation's military weapons. Four years later, the flag was lowered by the US Army and the gates closed.

How many people worked here? The greatest number of employees, mostly civilians, was in World War II from 1941-45 when over 14,000 men and women (~42% of the workforce) labored day and night fabricating the semi-automatic M-1 Garand rifle.

How large an area of the city did the Armory cover? The original Armory stretched over two city blocks in what was known as the Hill Shops (where the Historic Site now is accompanied by the Springfield Technical Community College which occupies most of the 22 original buildings). In addition, a city block a mile south on a tributary river, the Mill River, is the Water Shops where the heavy metal forging & machining was done as well as gun stock shaping. It is now a privately-owned industrial site. An equal distance north of the Hill Shops was the Rail Head where the military weapons were shipped.

What types of weapons did the US Army Ordnance Department make at Springfield? Most all weapons were shoulder arms with a small number of pistols and swords made. Starting with a copy of the French 'Charleville' flintlock musket in 1795 that was manufactured for the first 50 years, percussion ignition superceded the flintlock in the two decades before the American Civil War of 1861-65. The famous high-quality muzzle-loading Springfield rifle musket of the period was manufactured in such large numbers that the armies of the Union were never wanting for weapons from the middle of the war. Following the Civil War, metallic cartridge breech-loading weapons were created starting with the 'trapdoor' Springfield rifle that the US Army used throughout the western Plains Wars of the 1870's-80's. By the Spanish American War of 1898, Springfield was providing a modern smokeless bolt-action repeater rifle, the 'Krag', for our troops. And, by the beginning of the 20th Century, the justly-famous bolt-action Springfield Model 1903 was manufactured and saw heavy use in World War I (1917-18). World War II found American forces armed with the powerful and rapid-firing Springfield M-1 'Garand' rifle which developed into the fully-automatic M-14 by the Vietnam War and which is still occasionally issued.

What is Springfield Armory best know for? In the first half of the 1800's, the Armory successfully undertook the creation of modern mass manufacture of fully-interchangeable weapons. The methods developed at the Armory formed the basis to the precision metals industry in the United States leading to mass production of bicycles, automobiles, aircraft not only nationally, but worldwide.

Did You Know?

Main Arsenal at Springfield Armory NHS. Photo (c) James Langone

Springfield Arsenal, a military supply depot, was sited by General Henry Knox, and approved by General George Washington in 1777. The arsenal became known as Springfield Armory in 1794 when on-site small arms manufacturing was approved by President Washington. More...