West Point, NY - 14 DEC 2010

When I arrived last night it was warmer than the Los Angeles I had left 9 hours before...the Sun was down and I didn't even need a coat to go from car to hotel. However, by morning a cold front had arrived dropping a coating of snow over all surfaces. Tinky Winky shows you how much was on my car. Travel hint: if you don't have a scrapper for iced windshields, a hotel key will work very well...just don't use a credit card. I tried that once and it bent in two. Hotel keys are much easier to replace.West Point is a hour drive north of NYC. Dating back to 1778 when George Washington personally selected Thaddeus Losciuszko to design the fortifications for West Point. It is the oldest continually occupied military post in America. Benedict Arnold's act of treason was an attempt to sell the fort to the British. My training location was located right next to the cemetery. It was a burial ground for Revolutionary soldiers long before it was designated as a military cemetery in 1817.Below is the top of the Cadet Monument, erected by cadets and officers, dedicated to the memory of Cadet Vincent M. Lowe who was killed by the premature discharge of a cannon on January 1, 1817. Names of cadets and professors who died while at West Point appear on the monument.
The view from the cemetery is magnificent as it looks over the Hudson River.










I thought this was a very unique monument...check it out from the side:

Below: Crypt of Brigadier General Egbert L. Viele, a West Point graduate in the Class of 1847, was the chief engineer of the projected Central Park in New York City in 1856 and the engineer for Prospect Park, Brooklyn. His Topographical Atlas of the City of New York, "showing the original water courses and made land" published in 1876 is still used by New York City engineers.
Egyptian-influenced cemetery architecture is not unusual, there was an insurgence of it after the discovery of King Tuts tomb in 1922; but, this one is dated 1902.
Taphophobia, fear of being buried alive, was common in the 19th and early 20th century. It is recorded that Viele had a buzzer installed in his coffin wired to the house of the Superintendent of West Point in case he was accidentally buried alive.

Below: Monument to Major General Daniel Butterfield, a native New Yorker but not an Academy Graduate, had a distinguished career as an officer during the Civil War. The sixteen ornate columns on his monument record the forty-three battles and skirmishes in which he participated. The composition of the familiar military air, "Taps" has been attributed to General Butterfield.

I didn't realize it at the time but Major General George A. Custer, who got his pay-back at the Battle of Little Big Horn, is also buried here.



I purchased a post card for a friend at the Museum gift store; it had an image of a gargoyle. I showed the post card to my students and asked where to find it; but, they didn't know exactly which building. My next mission was to find it. Instead, I found the Cadet Chapel. It was close to sunset and I had to make a u-turn in front of the Chapel. There was one open parking spot near a side door, so I figured why not park and see if I can peek inside.
As with all my serendipitous decisions, I was in luck...not only was it open, the only other person around was someone who has worked there for years and told me all kinds of facts about the facility.
Most of the stain glass was in the shadows as the sun was fading fast.
My tour guide gave me access to the pulpit so I could get this full shot of the organ keyboard.
The Cadet Chapel organ (M.P. Moeller) begun in 1911 and has been enlarged by memorial gifts. With over 23,000 pipes, it is the largest organ in the world located in a religious building. (Los Angeles' First Congressional Church doesn't count because it has some digital components.) It is the third largest organ in the world, the other two also being in the East Coast. Number one is the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in the Atlantic City Convention Hall, but is not fully operational. Number two is the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ in Philadelphia's Macy's store and it is played twice a day.
By the time I left that night, the main gate guard station was looking very picturesque:



The next day I had a new class and one person had spent over 20 years there both as a cadet and an employee. I asked him where to find the gargoyle and he said the clock tower. When I found it, the building was two football fields away...one was an actual football field.
I drove around three times and finally a parking spot openned at the end of the football field, but being illegally parked I could only grab a quick shot with the telephoto lens.
The next day as I was walking through JFK airport, the sunlight was hitting a trash can and struck me as modern art: