Weighing in at 10 tons with a 10″ barrel, this cannon sits at the edge of Prospect Park in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A great place for photo opps, I often see children climbing on the cannon and playing on the nearby playground as I drive by.
Cast in 1865 at West Point Foundry, this locally well-known cannon served time as a coastal defense weapon at Ft. McClery in Kittery, Maine. Oddly enough, I spent time in Kittery, looking across the bay at Ft. McClery. I eventually set up home for a few years in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Kittery’s neighbor across the Piscataqua River. Isn’t it interesting to find out how we’re connected to different places at different times? Now I live a block away from the largest cannon in Michigan that was used in another part of the country I love so much.
In 1901 the cannon was decommissioned, and while on a trip to Maine, Ypsilanti Mayor Oliver Thompson applied for it on behalf of the city. After almost two years of correspondence, the cannon was delivered to the depot in Ypsi in October, 1902. Getting it to the top of the Cross Street hill proved troublesome, though. First, John Engel hitched up 8 horses to a wagon, but he could only get it to the bottom of the hill. Finally, a stonecrusher with tractor wheels was able to get it to it’s present location.
During the second World War, there was controversy over whether or not to scrap the cannon and melt down the metal. Residents who valued the history of the cannon protested, and the cannon was left alone.