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Hundreds of years of history

Director Michael E. Moss said the museum serves as an academic facility for the Corps of Cadets, faculty and staff, with collections dating to the 1777 Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolution.

The museum’s collections encompass the history of West Point and the U.S. Military Academy, the evolution of warfare and the
Army Football Historydevelopment of the U.S. armed forces. Rare artifacts include George Washington’s pistols, Napoleon’s sword and a drawing by Grant.

Get a sweeping view of the Hudson River Valley from Fort Putnam, which was restored in the 1970s. It is open May through September. The fort, built in 1778 by Col. Rufus Putnam’s 5th Massachusetts Regiment, is one of many forts constructed during the American Revolution to defend West Point.
 
   

Several chapels at West Point offer tourists a glimpse of the past and present. The Cadet Chapel, a Gothic cathedral of native granite on a hillside overlooking The Plain, was dedicated in 1910. It contains the largest church organ in the world.

The Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, built in 1899 in the Norman Gothic style, contains 22 modern stained glass windows depicting soldier-saints from Christian history. And the Jewish Chapel, completed in 1984, contains an extensive Judaica collection and library.

There is much to see at West Point, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied military post, which was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Many come to capture the flavor and architecture of the country’s first military service academy. Visitors can watch a cadet parade on The Plain, learn about the history of the U.S. Army, visit the graves of military heroes interred at the West Point Cemetery, or admire more than a dozen military monuments.

Visitors can also take in an Army football game at Michie Stadium, see a traveling musical, concert or dance performance at the 4,400-seat Eisenhower Hall Theater or attend a concert by the United States Military Academy Band.

Still others choose to visit Constitution Island, dine at Hotel Thayer or enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Hudson Highlands from Trophy Point.

A good place to start a tour of West Point is at the Visitors Center. Located on the site of the former Ladycliff College Library outside the main Thayer Gate, the center offers historical and informational videos and maps, a full-scale cadet barracks room, a movie theater and a gift shop.

The graduates of West Point’s Long Gray Line who emerged as the nation’s leaders — from Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant to Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur — are so intertwined with 225 years of American history that academy officials have adopted the slogan: ‘‘Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught.’’

That history is contained at the West Point Museum, behind the Visitors Center, which by itself welcomes 207,000 visitors and thousands of school groups each year. The museum contains 45,000 artifacts, from military arms to military art, and is considered the oldest and largest repository of military history in the Western Hemisphere.
 

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