Recent Work By Chris Oxley

Steel and Glass

By Chris Oxley

Essay

 

In 1777, George Washington found a site in Springfield, Mass. to store weapons inaccessible from the British Royal Navy. Aside from housing cannon and muskets, what became the Springfield Armory also manufactured cartridges and gun carriages for the American Revolution.

 

Nearly a couple of decades later, the armory produced the Model 1795 Musket, the first such firearm to be made in the United States. It was designed by Eli Whitney. At the turn of the century, the musket was also produced at the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va, (now West Va.), the second federal armory commissioned by the U.S. government, as well as the site of John Brown’s famous raid in 1859.

 

In 1835, Samuel Colt was awarded a British patent, and two U.S patents in 1836, for his revolver design. He promptly started a company in Paterson, N.J., but after production problems, closed in 1842. Undeterred, he soon collaborated with the family of Eli Whitney at their armory in Whitneyville, Conn. His newly revised revolver design was available just in time for the Mexican-American War and, in 1855, he started Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Conn. A year later, the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company was founded in Springfield, Mass., a few miles from the Springfield Armory.

 

The region saw several other gun manufacturers emerge over the years: Remington (Ilion, N.Y.), Winchester (1866, Springfield, Mass.), Savage Arms (1894, Utica, N.Y.), High Standard (1926, Hamden, Conn.), Sturm Ruger (1949, Southport, Conn.), Sig Sauer (1985, Newington, N.H.). Meanwhile, for nearly two hundred years, the Springfield Armory continued to serve as the U.S. Army’s prominent design and production workshop for small arms.

 

With the British invasion thwarted, a New England industrial economy boomed and “Gun Valley” was born.

 

“Happiness is a warm gun.”

On the morning of January 1, 1953, country music star Hank Williams was found dead in the back of his 1952 Cadillac in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

His energy dispersed.