Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bus Trip of West Point Military Academy

We had the day off today and planned to go to West Point for the tour, however, it looked like it might rain.  We decided just to chance it and we were glad we did.  We had a few sprinkles but most of the day was really quite nice although a little overcast.

We had run finding the Visitor Center which is in the town of Highland Falls.  There was signage getting you to the Visitor Center but it stopped at the town and then you were on your own.  The Visitor Center doesn't have an address so when you follow your GPS you end up at the Business Office.   We were tired of driving at that point so we stopped at a little Ice Cream Shop and had a dish of ice cream before we went on.  Don't do more than one scoop at this place because the one scoop filled the whole bowl!

The Visitor Center
This tank sits int he parking lot for the Visitor Center.

Once inside we asked about the different tours.  There is a one-hour and a two-hour bus tour.  We wanted to see it all but I wasn't sure what the difference in the walking would be.  They told us that the two hour tour included a 2 mile walk around the cemetery.  We would have liked to see the cemetery but the knee I replaced in January still is giving me fits especially since I've been working and standing for long periods of time.  So, we decided to play it safe and take the one-hour tour.

Our ride on the one-hour tour

The one-hour tour was really kind of nice because there were about 10 of us on the small bus.  The two-hour tour fills up the large bus and you have about 40 people on the tour, however, you do not get to see the cemetery.

This is the Entry Gate to West Point (top and bottom)

t used to be that anyone could wander around the campus and check things out but since 9/11 that is not so. Everyone has to present their license or passport and then stay with the bus tour. The Visitor Center for West Point is in the town of Highland Falls which is about one-half mile from the Guard Station. The Guard actually gets in the bus and checks each person's ID and picture before the bus can enter.  Then you go through another guard station and then you are finally on the tour itself.

 Griffin Hall

As we were coming in, this building was the first one we passed. In addition to being a Military Academy, West Point is also an active US Army post with an assigned contingent of personnel doing the same things done on every other US Army post around the world.

The grounds of West Point are really quite beautiful.  Lots of green and lots of different levels of the grounds with the Hudson River below.
 Miche Stadium

View from the Cadet Chapel looking down at another level
The Cadet Chapel

This Chapel is the largest chapel at West Point and is non-denominational.  We also passed the Jewish Synagogue and a Catholic Chapel but it was impossible to get pictures of them.

Front Entrance of the Cadet Chapel

Our Guide telling us some information about the Chapel
The Sanctuary
The Altar

This shows where all the stained glass windows are in the Chapel.  The only two that are missing are the stained glass windows above the altar and above the entrance door.  A company in Philadelphia did these beautiful windows for $300 each!  Isn't that unbelievable!!

These are some Organ Pipes coming out the wall under the stained glass windows. These are called trumpet pipes.

The organ in the Cadet Chapel s the largest organ in a religious structure in the world.  It was built in 1911 by M. P. Moller.  It is estimated to weigh over 124 tons.  It has 380 ranks, 874 stops, 293 voices, 23 divisions all totaling some 23,500 pipes!  It is played for over 300 services a year.  What we found fascinating is that in the history of the chapel, there have only been four organists. 

Michael the Archangel

Beautiful stained glass above the entry door

We left this area right in the nick of time.  Two buses of school kids arrived for a tour of the Chapel.
Memorial to General Kosciuszko, a Polish officer and engineer who assisted the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

This is the entrance to the Mess Hall which is between the Dorms
The Cadet Chapel sits above the dorms

The Mess Hall between the two dorm wings

The Superintendant's House


The Plain

The Commandant's House

The Thomas Jefferson Library

Classroom Buildings

The West Point Club

Thayer Hall

The Battle Monument at Trophy Point

The names of all the officers who were killed 
during the Civil War are around the base of the Battle Monument.

The names of all the enlisted killed during the 
Civil War are around the Cannon Balls

The Hudson River from Trophy Point

The Amphitheater where the West Point Band 
gives concerts that are open to the public.

The Thayer Hotel

One thing we have learned on this tour was even if we could have been in the top 1% of our class and may have qualified for this school, we'd never make it. They are so regimented, night and day. You have to admire everyone who graduates, that is for sure!

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