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Friday, February 13, 2015

The Cannonball Pile at the Trophy Park

Blog #39. February 13, 2014 By Marcus W. Robbins

Before we explore this week's installment I just want to thank everyone as the "History Matters" website blog that I have the honor to publish as the Official Historical Blog of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard has passed a milestone of 20,000 total hits this current week!  We have a worldwide readership and the great story of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard continues to go forth.

This week I wanted to focus on a particular long gone item being the cannonball pile at Trophy Park and show you proof positive to what ever happened to it.

As you view 100 year old plus postcards of the Navy Yard you get to look back at commonly known landmarks exactly how they appeared and operated back in the day yet, if you pay close attention some items can still be seen as surviving to this very day.  One iconic local treasure is the crooked tree at the southeast corner of Trophy Park that would have been planted in the post-Civil War layout of Trophy Park circa 1870.  That tree has seen more history under its shadow than any of us ever would know, one close by item was the cannonball pile.

Trophy Park Cannonball Pile circa 1905
(postcard courtesy of Marcus W. Robbins)

Just as aside to the changes around Trophy Park in the view above you can see to the left the extreme end of the lawn tennis court backstop, many long gone cannon trophies on display near the street, the first new central power plant distribution poles and of course the main entrance as it was constructed in 1851.

What ever happened to the cannonball pile?  Those other cannon along the eastern edge of Trophy Park at the street, well they met their end on January 7, 1943 for a World War II scrap drive from a series of detailed photos I was given from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum yet while I have been doing inventory and research in our own archives I unearthed the below photo of the cannonball pile.

Trophy Park Scrap Drive 11-17-1947
(photo courtesy of United States Navy)
Operational support to the warfighter always begins with strong facilities back home, nothing has changed over the years but the landscape of that home front.  It is important to recognize someone made a decision that the cannonball pile metal could be put to a better use for the Navy.  In closing next time you pass the crooked tree at the south east corner of Trophy Park, reflect on all the things that happened under its shadow because “history matters.

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