Friday, May 22, 2015

Spirit Guide: Allegheny Arsenal

ALLEGHENY ARSENAL

Class IIX Physical Location

First designed in 1814, the Allegheny Arsenal was conceived as a major supply depot for the United States Army on what was then the Western frontier of the country, in the city of Pittsburgh. As borders were pushed back and the industrial strength of the city began to develop, the original goal of the arsenal moved from being a simple supply depot to a full scale weapons manufacturing facility. The most notable products from this area were saddles and tack for the cavalry units, as well as a large number of cartridges and other explosive ordinance.

During the brief presidency of William Henry Harrison, he issued an executive order to begin construction and fund a high security weapons laboratory. It was originally unspecified what threat the President wished to guard against, but his death (under suspicious circumstances) approximately one month after taking office and issuing the order seems to confirm that there was a credible threat. Later investigation of the presidents’ wartime papers (As he had fought Native Americans in the Ohio Territory) show that he had been involved with a fight against a Wendigo during the campaign, and was therefore extremely aware of both  spirits and their weaknesses. 

Following the death of the president, the War Department began construction of the laboratory in 1841, finishing it in just six months.  Further events proved the doomed president rather prophetic.
The laboratory began to grow at a pace to match the Arsenal, so that by the time of the American Civil War, many of the cutting edge advancements were being tested, especially in the realms of dealing with the paranormal. It was at this laboratory that scientists discovered the weakness of vampires to silver. With such paranormal research taking place under the building, as well as the rest of the war effort in the industrial city, the entire area became a hotbed of espionage.

As the Civil War became more heated, the Union’s Anaconda Plan called for a complete encirclement of the South, which was achieved on April 28, 1862 with the capture of the port of New Orleans. Unfortunately for the Union, this resulted in the New Court of vampires declaring war on the United States. Soon after, using research generated at the Allegheny Arsenal, General Benjamin Butler ordered the confiscation of all of the silverware that could be found. This was then melted down for ammunition to quell the vampire uprising. 

At the news that the vampires had declared war, their ancient foes, the Great Pack of werewolves (operating mostly from the Maine wilderness), allied with the United States and effectively sealed the Canadian border to any sympathetic vampires in the New Court’s base in Quebec. Unfortunately, they were unable to accomplish this before a small ring of agents made their way into New York.
After committing some minor vandalism and sabotage in New York City, the vampires decided to destroy the laboratory and munitions factory that was aiding the cause, and proceeded to Pittsburgh. Once there, they integrated themselves in the community surrounding the Arsenal by masquerading as merchants looking to invest in the region. They then began sending intelligence through established espionage lines to Baltimore, where such information was quickly dispatched to Richmond. It is believed that the attack on the Arsenal took place as a direct reprisal to the arming of the occupying forces in New Orleans with the confiscated silver.

At approximately 2 p.m. on September 17, 1862, a series of three explosions originating in the Arsenal almost completely leveled the building, as well as several of the surrounding houses. Contemporary reports had the explosion being heard as far away as two miles. The official list of casualties shows 78 deaths, however this does not include an unknown number of scientists who were in the laboratory at the time.

Immediately following the explosion, a band of men under the command of Colonel John Symington formed a plan to capture the spies, and bring them to justice. Having deducted which of the merchants were involved, Symington and his men sealed the vampires in their abodes using salt, holy water, and other religious icons. The following day, when they had retreated to their coffins, Symington’s men broke in, seized the vampires themselves, and tied them to stakes using rope infused with a silver thread (another innovation of the Allegheny Arsenal.) This allowed the men to dig the post holes in the back yard of the Colonel’s residence, and when day was breaking on the 20th, the vampire’s stakes were placed in those holes, and the vampires were burned as the sun rose. A small vial of the ashes was sent to Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, and another to Samuel Langley of the Smithsonian Institution.

Efforts to rebuild the Arsenal were successful, with it being back in operation at full capacity within one year. It continued to operate up through the Spanish-American War, when it was finally decommissioned. The original powder magazine, as well as its tunnel to the Allegheny River (which somehow survived the explosion) may be seen to today. 

The efforts to rebuild the laboratory were not as successful, and in 1863 Stanton and Langley decided to move the operations of the paranormal research to the Smithsonian Institution, where it remains to this day. 

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