Glimpse at the Past

Schuylkill Arsenal

  • Schuylkill Arsenal

The Schuylkill Arsenal was built at Grays Ferry Avenue and Washington Avenue in 1800. It furnished supplies for the US Military, later specializing in textile production. During the Civil War, 10,000 outside seamstresses and tailors were hired to supply the Union Army with uniforms, blankets, tents, and bedding. The Arsenal, later renamed the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot, provided the military with supplies through World War I. The campus transitioned into a Quartermaster School through 1941, and a storage space through 1957. Though the buildings were demolished in 1963, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. You can still see reminants of the original wall today, surrounding parts of Veolia Energy along Grays Ferry Ave.

In addition to its important role in the US military, the Schuylkill Arsenal also served as a staging area for Lewis & Clark's Expedition (1803-1806). Before setting out on his historic cross-continental expedition, Meriwether Lewis stocked up on clothing, blankets, and tents at the Schuylkill Arsenal. The US Purveyor of Public Supplies in Philadelphia also helped to source a variety of other expedition supplies, from hand tools and kitchen supplies, to medicines and navigation equipment. 3,500 pounds of supplies were loaded onto Conestoga wagons and sent across the Grays Ferry Bridge to begin the long journey across North America.

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