Training Center Yorktown has a rich history and also enjoys the opportunity to display Coast Guard artifacts. A short reading of the material below will give you a hint of some of the displays scattered around the 157 acres we call TCYorktown. Better yet, visit the Cyber Café on the first deck, south face of Steuben Hall, to pick up a printed version of this material including a map locating each area of interest. From that site, you can exit the south doors following the map to wander west to the CGC Cuyahoga Memorial site to start your journey on a 'Historical Walking Tour' of TCYorktown.
On October 20, 1978, CGC CUYAHOGA, while on a night-time officer candidate school training cruise, collided with the M/V Santa Cruz II in the Chesapeake Bay and sank about two minutes later in 58 feet of water. Eleven shipmates died in the tragic collision.
As a partial result of this accident the Coast Guard instituted more stringent controls and certifications. These include periodic examinations for deck watch officers and rigorous seamanship refresher courses for all prospective commanding officers and executive officers. A memorial to honor our shipmates who lost their lives is located across the street from the Coast Guard Dining Facility and Lincoln Hall. Visit the USCGC CUYAHOGA Memorial site.
CGC UNIMAK (WTR-379) was stationed at Reserve Training Center Yorktown from 7 August 1972 to 31 May 1975. Its mission was to train reservists. CGC UNIMAK (WAVP-379), later WHEC-379, WTR-379, and again WHEC-379, was a Casco-class cutter in commission from 1949 -1975 and from 1977-1988.
The Casco-class ships were built as small seaplane tenders by the US Navy. They were designed to oper-ate out of small harbors and atolls and had a shallow draft. The fact that the class was very seaworthy, had good habitability, and long range made them well suited to ocean-station duty. Bridge equipment and other relics are on display on the quarterdeck of Lincoln Hall. Visit the USCGC UNIMAK site.
The National Aids to Navigation Museum is located in the atrium of Canfield Hall. The museum includes eleven lenses, four artifact cases, several ship models, four display panels and many other interesting artifacts. The array of Fresnel lenses are considered the most complete collection in the United States.
Aids to Navigation are placed at strategic points along the coasts and navigable waterways as markers and guides to enable mariners to determine at all times their exact position with relation to land and hidden dangers. ATON includes buoys, day beacons, lighthouses, minor lights, lightships, fog signals, radio beacons, markers and other devices used to guide mariners. Visit the NATON Museum site.
The designation of Yorke Village as a marine port in 1633 demonstrated the importance of maritime commerce to these first settlers. Although the exact size and population of Yorke village are unknown, history clearly indicates that during a major portion of the 1600's, it served as the social, municipal, and religious center of this portion of the York River area.
The only remaining feature from either of the two churches is the gravestone of Major William Gooch, who died in October 1655. The Gooch grave is one of the oldest legible tombstones in the New World. The abandonment of the village coincided with the up-river development of Yorktown as a superior deepwater port in the late 1690's.
The booming of a U.S. Lighthouse Service Bell like this warned mariners of the dangerous conditions close to shore. Activated during periods of low visibility, its booming sound could be heard more than a mile at sea. Bells were replaced by power operated fog horns.
Cannon, mortars, and howitzers made up the three types of artillery used at Yorktown by the Americans, French and British. The maximum range is 1,300 yards. The effective range is 750 yards. Artillery was not an exact science, so the skill and experience of the gun crew often determined the success of the artillery.
Geoffrey “Lance” Matthews was a Gunners Mate Third Class stationed at Training Center Yorktown. He died tragically while on active duty in 1998. His memorial is located next to the saluting guns to honor his life, profession and to remind us of our proud heritage as the Nation.
The Coast Guard took possession of the U.S. Navy’s Mine Warfare School site on 3 July 1959, commissioning the “Reserve Training Center” (RTC), as it was originally called. The original purpose of RTC was to serve as home for Officer Candidate School and large summer training programs for Reservists.
Training Center Yorktown recently celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. Located in the lobby of Thayer Hall are pictures, historical videos, and the contents of the 1984 recovered time capsule. On the second deck, display items include artifacts excavated from the Olde Yorke Village site and a model of CGC Cuyahoga.
A collection of vintage Coast Guard uniforms are on display in the East quarterdeck of Steuben Hall. The collection includes a Surfman’s uniform (1930); Service Dress Blues, Service Dress Khakis, Jumper Type Dress Blues, Jumper Type Dress Whites (1940-1974); a SPAR Winter Dress uniform (1942); and present Service Dress Blues.
In 1995, twenty–one Famous and Historical Trees were planted in a “Living Classroom.” The trees were grown from seeds or cuttings from trees having a unique place in history. These trees include a Honey Locust from Gettysburg, a White Oak from the home of Abraham Lincoln, a crab apple tree from from the Sullivan brothers home in Iowa, and many more.
The trees were planted in honor of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Douglas A. Munro and Michael E. Thornton by students from local Yorktown Elementary and Middle Schools, assisted by the Training Center Chief Petty Officer's Association. Visit the Living Classroom site.
Some 36 years after the United States won its independence from England, the young nation once again went to war with Great Britain in 1812. The war of 1812 is often referred to as the second half of the American Revolution. On the front lines was the fledgling Revenue Cutter Service which had 16 small cutters stretched from Maine to New Orleans. The Revenue Cutter Service engaged the British Navy who maintained an effective blockade over the American coast.
One of the more fiercely contested wartime engagements of the war for the Revenue Cutter Service was between the cutter Surveyor, commanded by Revenue Captain Samuel Travis, (this buildings namesake) and boarding parties deployed from the British frigate HMS Narcissus. The battle took place in the York River not far from Training Center Yorktown. Although Surveyor was captured after a bloody skirmish, the British commander considered his combat opponent to have shown such bravery that he returned Captain Travis' surrendered sword.
Hanging on the wall within Samuel Travis Hall is a commemorative plaque with the names of 86 courageous men from the Revenue Cutter Service who were imprisoned by and held by the British in POW camps in both Canada and England. Also on display are period uniforms and weaponry used by the American crews. Various historical documents and original art work depicting the battle between the cutter Surveyor and frigate Narcissus are also available for viewing.