Ahoy-hoy from the West Point Foundry.
My name is Seth DePasqual and I have recently endeavored into my seventh week here at WPF. As an incoming graduate student to the MTU Industrial Archaeology program, I am proud to admit that I’ve found myself situated within a remarkably unique industrial setting here in Cold Spring, NY. Despite documenting a large variety of industrial sites within six years of professional CRM employment, the WPF presents a long desired opportunity to actually excavate such a locale. I have to admit though that I’ve been struggling with the sheer immensity of the site complex, even when isolated mainly to the Molding Shop section of the foundry. There’s simply a ton of stuff happening everywhere; and we’re here to make sense of it all. I’ll settle for most of it.
The week commenced with George and myself digging deeper in the “Smokestack” unit. Beneath mortared stone that was located last week was a large iron/slag concretion, which soon proved a bit too burly for trowels. After some discussion, we decided that a pick-axe would be the interim tool of choice. After a lot of sweat, the mass was removed to reveal a nice, uniform level beneath. Before the week’s end we “bottomed out” on this unit, revealing a distinct rock and mortar base level that hosted a flat face at its western edge. George and I conjectured that the foundation may have been recycled for use of faced stones elsewhere at the foundry.
Within the “Oven” unit, Carmelo, Sam, Lawrence, and Neil Murray (a returning volunteer) continued to push towards the bottom of their exceptionally large pit full of grand-scale artifacts. Ever insatiable, the band opted to extend the unit north to a wall feature with the hopes of exposing more components of the cupola furnace. Within a day of excavation in the extension, the group uncovered a peculiar ring of fire brick resting atop a small area of brick flooring (see photo). Thought to be remains of a pit, the ring was only two courses high and contained a large amount of burnt debris and charcoal. Its purpose remains unknown as it would’ve been tucked close to the cupola and therefore difficult to access. Colleen, our gifted illustrator, assisted the crew with her plumb-bob, ruler and divine sense of spatial articulation.
Megan and Sarah continued their work within the “Central Doorway-North” Unit, revealing yet another curiosity; this time in the form of a high-quality brick wall found beneath all previous floors and extending at least eight courses into the ground. Built “out of square” to the rest of the unit’s main features, the stout wall includes a corner and extends to unknown dimensions into the south and west unit walls. The top of the wall was mortared flat and its southern interior hosts a deep reservoir of fine sandy loam. Local blacksmith Dean Anderson stopped by and said that the sandy loam is of ideal quality for molding purposes.
Alessandra and Amy opened a new unit east of the Molding Shop entrance. Dan is under the impression that the unit will uncover two joined walls. Within a day’s work, a small portion of bricks in course was exposed at the unit’s southwest corner. Later the unit was extended further west where more of this coursed brick could be exposed. We’re looking forward to what lies beneath as elevations progress deeper and deeper.
That’s a wrap for MTU’s 2007 Field School. A few of us will be returning after a much desired week off to assist Dan with ongoing research. Stayed tuned to the web site for continued updates. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone leaving the project as it has been a long and eventful summer. Muchas gracias for all stellar times.