Cold Spring Landing

The landing referred to in Wade's panorama is the village of Cold Spring. Fanny Kemble, the British actress was one of a party of people sight-seeing in Cold Spring in 1831. A popular place to take visitors was the waterfall at Indian Brook. She wrote later in her journal, "As I gazed up in perfect ecstasy, an uncontrollable desire seized me to clamber up the rocks by the side of the fall, and so reach the top of it." So determined was she to reach the top of the falls that she continued up following a guide even after she was soaked through with the spray from the falls.

Text from William Wade

Cold Spring is a thriving manufacturing village, about a mile above West Point, on the opposite side of the river. The mountains in the vicinity of its romantic situation abound in iron ore. A mile from the village is the West Point Iron Foundry, one of the most extensive in the United States. It has one blast furnace producing eight hundred and fifty tons of iron annually, three air furnaces and three cupola furnaces, melting two thousand five hundred tons of iron, employing two hundred persons, and producing articles to the amount of two hundred and eighty thousand dollars annually. The largest kinds of machinery for steamboat and other purposes, are constructed here, and besides the iron ore, an inexhaustible and convenient quarry of granite has been found in the vicinity. Immediately above Cold Spring are Bull Hill, Breakneck Hill, and Beacon Hill. The second of these heights contains the rock known by the various names of the Turk's Head, Anthony's Face, and Upper Anthony's Nose.

West Point Foundry

Cold Spring was selected as a site for a munitions factory in 1817 because it had all the raw materials needed, streams which provided water power and proximity to the river for easy transportation of its products. What was required to make cannons at that time was iron ore and hardwood to make charcoal to fuel the furnaces, both of which were in ready supply around the foundry in the early nineteenth century. The war of 1812 had convinced congress that it would need to safeguard the country's new-found independence with reserves of ammunition and arms. Government contracts for cannons, grapeshot and round shot provided the majority of the foundry's work in the early years. But they also produced iron stoves, plows, bells and household items such as lead sash weights for windows. The foundry made the iron pipes which replaced the wooden water pipes for New York City. The foundry was run by Gouverneur Kemble a wealthy industrialist who was also a patron of the arts. In 1836 he hired Robert Parrott as superintendent of the foundry. Parrott, who had studied artillery at West Point as a young man, became a nationally known figure in developing the Parrott gun, the most efficient rifled cannon of its day. Many argue that it was the efficency and long range of the Parrott gun which gave the northern troops the necessary advantage to win the Civil War.

At its height during the Civil War, the foundry employed 1400 men. Businesses supporting the foundry employees prospered as well and the village of Cold Spring grew. The end of the Civil War brought a dramatic decrease in the productivity of the foundry. When steel replaced iron, the foundry had outlived its usefulness to government and businesses alike. It closed in 1911. The building today is in ruins.

View Victor DeGrailly's View of Cold Spring

The Village of Cold Spring today