Springfield Armory National Historic Site is the location of one of the United States
original two small arms research and manufacturing centers (the other was in Harpers Ferry, Virginia and was destroyed by its federal garrison at the outset of the Civil War. It was founded in 1794 at the request of President Washington by Revolutionary War General Henry Knox. Starting with a copy of a french musket used in the Revolutionary War the craftsmen and experts gathered in this place laid the foundations for the part of the American Industrial Revolution and a firearms industry that shaped this part of Massachusetts and Connecticut. It was the manufacturing and research center for some of the firearms that US troops used in The War of 1812, The Civil War, both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam until it was closed in 1968 and replaced by the current system of private military contractors for small arms procurement. The complex of buildings
now houses Springfield Technical Community College, The University of Massachusetts – Amherst’s Springfield Campus and the Springfield Armory Musuem.
This museum that is the main section of the National Historic Site covers two major stories: the research, development and manufacture of small arms for the US military in a global context & and the wider story of industrial development and industrialization in the Connecticut River Valley that the Springfield Armory played a pivotal role in. The firearms part of the museum has pieces that show several centuries of weapons development from early European arms from the 16th and 17th century through to the M-16 rifle which became the main infantry rifle of the US military during the Vietnam Conflict. This collection of small arms is primarily focused on arms used by the US Military with a large collection generally arranged in chronological order. It’s a fascinating set of exhibits to view and shows off several innovate arms manufactured at the armory, especially the M1 Garand Rifle which was the main US
rifle in World War Two and was created by John Garand, an engineer who worked at the Springfield Armory. Other noteworthy items include samples of Civil War Era Muskets that were produced at Springfield Armory (to the order of 300,000 rifles), the original French designed rifle that was initially produced at the armory and many examples of German and Japanese small arms captured in World War 2.
Hours, Admission, Location and other information:
Springfield Armory is open year-round, 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM. As a National Historic Site admission is free. The National Park Service website for this location has a lot more information as well including multimedia, general information and lots of other neat facts about the location.
There are several interesting kids programs as part of the National Park Service’s
Junior Ranger program. The staff also recommends starting off your visit with a stop at the theater there for an informational movie about the history of the armory. Plan on 2-4 hours for your visit
The Armory Site has been converted over to use as the Springfield Technical Community College so the museum is part of the campus. Keep an eye out for signs to the Armory from Interstate 91 and Downtown Springfield. The address and location for navigation devices is as follows:
One Armory Square, Suite 2
(Off Federal St.)
Springfield, MA 01105
The armory is convenient to Interstates 91 and 291 which both connect to the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and it is about a two hour drive from Boston and under an hour from Hartford.