From Knowledge, Seapower

Towards the end of August, I went to Annapolis, Maryland for a work trip. I hadn’t ever been to Annapolis and I was excited to explore a new city. I was especially excited to check out the US Naval Academy. Luckily, Sunday was our travel day which gave me Sunday afternoon and evening to go explore. My hotel was just over a mile from the Academy, which was perfect!

I started out my run through historic downtown Annapolis, which was a really cute area. Before long, I arrived at the Naval Academy campus, called the “Yard.” Getting onto campus is similar to entering most military bases. I went through the pedestrian gate, showed my ID to security personnel, and walked through a metal detector. It was no big deal, but make sure you check all of the rules on their visitor’s webpage if you’re planning a trip!

The first thing I did was go through the Visitor’s Center and gift shop. I snagged a couple of t-shirts for Barry and myself (I carried them in my running pack the rest of the evening). I checked out the photographs on display, depicting Plebe Summer, student life as a midshipman, and notable Naval Academy alum. Then I picked up a campus map and headed out for my running tour.

The first stop on my tour was the Bill the Goat, the school’s mascot, near Gate 1 where I entered.

From there I made my way along a road with a pretty row of houses. I’m assuming Navy personnel who work at the Academy live here, but I’m not sure.

I made my way up behind the Chapel and past some other impressive-looking buildings before arriving at my first monument of the day – the Tripoli Monument. This is the oldest military monument in the United States. It honors the heroes of the War against the Barbary Coast Pirates in 1804, the brave young Americans who took actions against the pirates on “the shores of Tripoli.” The monument was carved in 1806 in Italy. It was brought to the U.S. on the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and arrived at the Naval Academy in 1860.

From the monument, I ran past more houses before crossing a bridge towards Hospital Point. My campus map didn’t include this portion, and I got a little lost trying to find my way. My intent was to follow the perimeter of the Yard, and eventually I found the perimeter wall and was back on track. I even found a little trail section to run.

I ran along the water around Hospital Point and Forrest Sherman Field. Along the way I saw several midshipman out doing PT exercises. I enjoyed the views of the water and of the main campus area along this stretch.

After running by the water, I crossed over a foot bridge back to the main part of the Yard. I have a thing for running on wooden bridges, so I enjoyed crossing the water here.

There was some construction going on at the other side of the bridge, and I wasn’t able to stick to my route as planned. But after consulting my map (again), I found a way around and back towards the water. I even passed by Ingram Field. I did a lap around the track on my way through, for good measure.

I passed by the soccer facility and then arrived at the Santee Basin, where the boats are docked. The dock area was neat to run along.

I don’t know a lot about boats, but these sure looked fancy. I also enjoyed seeing the names on each of them: Fearless, Honor, Courage, Audacious, Bravery, etc.

The road then led me towards a point where the Severn River and Spa Creek meet in the Chesapeake Bay. This is also the point where the Triton Light is located. It is dedicated to “the safe return of all those who go down to the sea in ships.”

Right next to the Triton Light was the “Still on Patrol” monument. It honors the US Navy Submarines for their paramount role in WII and the heavy losses they sustained.

A short way down the road from these two points of interest was the Sea Gate. This was a literal gateway that had steps that went right down to the water. It is dedicated to “all those who have left these shores to serve our country.”

There was more traffic on this side of the Yard, but it was still very pedestrian friendly. I completed my loop of the perimeter and decided to explore the inner part of campus some more. I ran by Dahlgren Hall, which was already closed for the day, but looked really neat inside (I looked in the windows). It had ship and aircraft memorabilia inside and also had a restaurant that is open to the public.

On the other side of Dahlgren Hall were two torpedos. The first one pictured below is a Japanese aerial torpedo from Okinawa. The second is a Type 93 torpedo and it was the largest enemy weapon of its kind encountered during WWII. This thing is 29 1/2 feet long, 24 inches in diameter, and carries 1,000 lbs. of explosive in the war head. Yikes!

Nearby the two torpedoes was the memorial to the US Navy’s Submarine Service – “dedicated to those who serve beneath the seas.”

The next stop on my tour was Bancroft Hall, which is huge. It’s actually the largest dormitory in the United States. It’s home to the entire brigade of 4,000 midshipmen.

Directly in front of Bancroft Hall is a large area called Tecumseh Court. This is where noon meal formations for the Brigade of Midshipmen takes place every weekday during the academic year.

I wish I had gone inside, but I didn’t realize the main part is open to the public.

Just across from the square, the Indian warrior Tecumseh stands watch. This figurehead was on the USS Delaware in 1817. The original wooden figurehead was sent to the Naval Academy in 1866 after being salvaged from the Delaware wreckage (which sunk at Norfolk during the Civil War). The figurehead was given a “face lift” in 1906, with the help of cement, to fortify it against the weather. Finally, in 1930, a bronze statue of Tecumseh was permanently placed here, where he gazes directly towards Bancroft Hall and Tecumseh Court.

The final part of my run took me to the very heart of the Yard.

My last stop before leaving the Yard and heading back to my hotel was the Main Chapel. The Chapel is located at the high point of the Yard and was dedicated in 1908. John Paul Jones. Jones, one of the greatest Revolutionary War heroes, is enshrined beneath the chapel.

I finished the evening with a little over 7 miles. I had a fabulous time running around the Naval Academy. Everywhere I turned, there was history. If you ever get the chance to visit the US Naval Academy, I highly recommend it!

2 Comments

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  1. Great site to visit and so much history. Did you know that the USS CONSTITUTION was named by President George Washington after the United States Constitution? She is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. That means she is an active ship in the US Navy.

    LUD.

    1. I didn’t know that. Pretty cool!

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