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Legacy of General Rodman

From the stone shops to the entire layout of the Rock Island Arsenal, General Thomas Rodman is behind it all.

From the stone shops to the entire layout of the Rock Island Arsenal, General Thomas Rodman is behind it all.

Rodman helped grow the Watertown arsenal in Massachusetts.

So when he came to Rock Island, he had a good idea of what would work for the base.

"The design of the Rock Island Arsenal changed dramatically when he became second commanding officer," says Kris Leinicke, Director, Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

Take a look at all those ten stone shops, they've lasted the test of time, thanks to General Rodman.

"We owe so much to his forward reaching thoughts of what the Arsenal could become," Leinicke adds.

And his legacy lasts beyond the island.

"Back during the Civil War, cannons were known to explode when fired because of how the metal was cooled and it would kill the men that were firing it," says Gloria Dzekunskas, R.I. National Cemetery.

General Rodman is buried at the Rock Island National Cemetery,

And right next to him is one of his greatest achievements: the Rodman cannon.

"General Rodman came up with a technique for cooling the metal and caused the exploding cannons not to explode anymore," Dzekunskas adds. "So he's credited with saving many lives for that."

The cannons could fire as far as three miles.

That means if the one of the cannons were fired today, it could reach as far as places like downtown Davenport or our studios at WHBF.

"He did a lot of experimentation with powders and large piece of ordinance," says Leinicke.

And they were used as a coastal defense, which left a lasting impact on international waters.

"Because those cannons could shoot further, the international water line was further from shore."

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