Watervliet Arsenal is an arsenal run by the United States Army in New York, on one of the banks of the Hudson River. Believe it or not, it is the oldest such place that is still active, with close to two centuries of continuous functionality. Its age has helped it get marked as a NHL – National Historic Landmark. About 2400 such objects are in this category, including the USS Constitution ship or the Mohonk Mountain House. The arsenal received this status in 1966. These days, it is still fully functional and its primary mission implies producing artillery items, including gun tubes for tanks or cannons. It spreads over a little under 150 acres and it is less than 13 km away from Albany. One of the most important buildings on site that is open to civilians is the local museum, dating since the 17-th century and giving the visitors the chance to see how the weapons have evolved in time and history.
The arsenal was built in 1812 and hasn’t stopped working since then. It was built to support the 1812 war between the United States of America and the British troops. The war was declared in 1812 by the Americans because they had trading restrictions, many of their troops were enrolled in the British army and the British forces constantly supported the Indians fighting against the American expansion. They also took advantage of Britain’s war with France, hitting in the worst time for the kingdom. That was the first and most important role Watervliet Arsenal played in a major conflict. It was strategically built on the Hudson River, close to Gibonsville and Troy. The first commander of the little base was Decius Wadsworth. Since the Americans expected attacks from all the parts, he decided to reinforce the small army first, so the arsenal produced gun ammunition and other small equipments.
At the same time, the 1812 war caught the people unprepared, as the whole arsenal barely occupied 12 acres. Only a few facilities were built. However, within a year, the place became fully functional with stables, brick arsenals, gun houses, offices, a hospital and a guard house. Ever since that moment, nothing really changed throughout the history. Obviously, the place was improved over its two centuries of history. The weapons industry has significantly changed since then. At the same time, the place was expanded prior to some of the major conflicts the Americans were involved in. But with all these, it is still an arsenal and it just goes on producing weaponry equipments. The most important expansion plan was applied in 1992. It took 10 years to complete and the authorities invested more than $350M to renovate and upgrade all the on site facilities. Once the program was over, Watervliet Arsenal could brag about being one of the most advanced and sophisticated such facilities in the world.
In 2005, a BRAC commission suggested the inactivation of the base. However, the authorities rejected it due to its major importance and history.