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Springfield Armory National Historic Site preserves a facility significant to both the production of military small arms and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. In 1777, General George Washington chose the small village of Springfield as the site of the first United States arsenal to keep weapons and ammunition safe from the British. Over the next 190 years, the armory grew into one of the most important facilities for the production of military small arms in the world.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site
©National Park Service
The Springfield Armory National Historic Site features an incredible collection ­of firearms and ammunition.
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In 1787, a farmer named Daniel Shays led a group of 1,100 men in an attempt to seize arms at Springfield. They intended to use the weapons to force the closure of state and county courts that were taking their land for debt repayment; Shays had lost his land over a $12 debt. The local militia put down the rebellion, but many wealthy citizens feared for their lives and property. As a result, the Federal Constitution was drafted, creating a stronger central government.

The site encompasses several buildings and the original armory complex on some 55 acres. The Main Arsenal, which houses the Springfield Museum, displays the world's largest collection of military small arms. Among the 10,000 guns are long-barreled muskets of 1795, the M-1 rifle used in World War II, and a collec­tion of firearms donated by Presidents Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Wilson.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site Information

Address: One Armory Sq., Springfield, MA
Telephone: 413/734-8551
Hours of Operation: Daily, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Admission: Free

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

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To learn more about national national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.