Visit the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park

Updated on August 29, 2016
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ReadMikeNow is a freelance writer who loves to travel. He likes to find unique stories about interesting places.

Park Entrance
Park Entrance

Anyone who enjoys seeing military equipment and memorabilia will want to see a very special park in Buffalo. At one time, it was known as the Buffalo Naval and Servicemen's Park. Today, it is called the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. It is a unique military museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in the city of Buffalo, New York. When visiting here, it's possible to see the USS Little Rock, which is a Cleveland-class cruiser. There is also the USS The Sullivans. It is a Fletcher-class destroyer. The USS Croaker is also available for viewing. This is a Gato-class submarine. People who go to this military park can also see a variety of combat aircraft, helicopters, tanks, naval patrol boats, and more.

Sign at park entrance
Sign at park entrance

History

Construction of the Erie County Naval & Military Park began in 1977. It was opened for public use on July 4, 1979. The USS Fletcher, USS Little Rock, as well as USS The Sullivans, were part of the original displays. The submarine USS Croaker became part of the park in 1988. It had to undergo a refit in 1989 before it was ready to be toured. In 2003, the submarine and ships were relocated at the base of Main and Pearl Streets. A museum has been added as well as the Liberty Hound restaurant, which started operating in 2012.

Military Landing Craft
Military Landing Craft

Various Exhibits

People who go to this military park will also be able to see a number of military vehicles as well as aircraft. One of the popular attractions is the one-man helicopter known as the Gyrodyne X-Ron 1 Rotorcycle. It was used by the US Marine Corps during the 1950s and 1960s. There is a tank that was used during the Korean war called the Army M41 Walker Bulldog tank. An armored personnel carrier called the Marine M-84 is also on display. The UH-1 Huey helicopter flown is Vietnam is available to be seen. There is also an Air Force F-101 Voodoo aircraft that was used by a nearby Air National Guard Unit. A Fast Patrol Boat that was utilized by the Navy during the Vietnam War is available for viewing. Other aircraft such as the USAAF P-39 and a Navy FJ Fury jet are on display. The rudder and sail from the submarine USS Boston are also located in the park.

Museum
Museum

Museum

There is also a building that provides an extensive display of military memorabilia. This includes artifacts from the Marine Corps, Vietnam, Polish armed forces and more. There are a number of models made of actual military vehicles. A display honors military members from western New York who were awarded the Medal of Honor and is available for viewing. There are a number of future displays currently in development for the museum.

USS Little Rock
USS Little Rock

USS Little Rock

This is a Cleveland-class Navy cruiser. Toward the end of its active duty, it was upgraded to a Little Rock class guided missile cruiser. The construction of the USS Little Rock was completed, and it was launched at the Cramp Shipbuilding company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1944. It was officially commissioned as an active US Navy warship in August of 1945. Its upgrade to a guided missile cruiser took place at New York Shipbuilding located in Camden, New Jersey. The USS Little Rock was officially decommissioned in 1976. It was the first ship ever to be named after Little Rock, Arkansas. The USS Little Rock is the only guided missile cruiser available for public viewing as a museum. It is the last of the Cleveland class of cruisers. At one time, this class of cruiser was the most numerous in the US Navy. There were over 28 Cleveland class cruisers in use. When it was active, the USS Little Rock made four Mediterranean cruises as well as two North Atlantic cruises. It was used as the flagship for the Sixth and Second Fleets. The ship is now made available for a variety of entertaining and educational activities. This includes overnight encampment programs and more.

USS The Sullivans
USS The Sullivans

USS The Sullivans

This is a Fletcher-class destroyer. Its construction was completed at Bethlehem Steel Corporation in San Francisco, California. It was launched in April of 1943. USS The Sullivans was commissioned for active duty during September of 1943. The destroyer was decommissioned in 1965. Its name “The Sullivans” came from five brothers who were killed during a Battle at the Solomon Islands when the ship they were on was damaged and sank. The Fletcher-class destroyer was the US Navy's biggest and most valued class of destroyer during World War II. During World War II, the Sullivans served with distinction. It participated in the combat operations that took place in the Philippines, Marshalls, Marianas, Carolines and more. It took part in rescuing many people from downed planes, damaged as well as sinking ships. USS The Sullivans was the recipient of nine battle stars for its service during World War II. It also took part in operations in the Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis as well as rescue efforts associated with the USS Thresher, a nuclear submarine.

USS Croaker
USS Croaker

USS Croaker

This is a Gato-class submarine. The USS Croaker's construction was completed by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. It was launched during December of 1943. The USS Croaker was commissioned for active duty in April of 1944. The submarine was officially decommissioned in December of 1971. The USS Croaker was constructed as part of an effort to build a major submarine fleet before and after the United States involvement in World War II. It served in the Pacific Ocean and conducted war operations against Navy and merchant ships from Japan. The submarine participated in six World War II patrols in the Pacific Ocean. The USS Croaker earned three battle stars and claimed eleven different Japanese vessels. This includes four tankers, two freighters, a cruiser, an ammunition ship as well as a minesweeper and others. It was converted and recommissioned in 1953. During the conversion, it's sail was streamlined, long range sonar was installed and more. It was taken out of active service in 1968. The USS Croaker was used as a Naval Reserve trainer starting in 1968 and ending in 1971. It was decommissioned from active duty in 1971.

F-101F Voodoo Fighter Interceptor Jet
F-101F Voodoo Fighter Interceptor Jet

F-101F Voodoo Fighter Interceptor Jet

This is a US Air Force aircraft that was used at the Niagara Falls Air Station between 1971 and 1982. The F-101F Voodoo Fighter Interceptor Jet was used by the New York Air National Guard as part of its Rainbow Squadron. When used for active duty operations, it was flown with yellow, red and blue stripes on its tail. This is symbolic of the rainbows found at Niagara Falls.

FJ-4B Fury Jet
FJ-4B Fury Jet

FJ-4B Fury Jet

This Navy aircraft was similar to the Air Force aircraft F-86 Sabre Jet. It is an attack fighter jet designed to carry up to five Martin Bullpup Missiles. It also has four 20 mm cannons mounted in the nose of the aircraft. This could be used during a low altitude attack. It was powered by a Wright Turbo Jet engine. This gave it a maximum speed of more than 679 mph.


Contact Information

Address: 1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, NY 14202

Phone: (716) 847-1773

Hours:

March 26th – End of October:

  • Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Friday & Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

November:

  • Open Saturday and Sunday, Veterans Day, and the Friday after Thanksgiving
  • 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

December – March 25:

  • Closed

Website: http://buffalonavalpark.org/


Questions & Answers

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        alancaster149 

        19 months ago

        Mike, here's my turn to put some praise your way. Seems to me the WWII vessels here were sent to the Pacific theatre. Are there any at this museum that took part in the Normandy landings in June, '44? Of course there was also 'Torch' (North Africa, '42), the western Italian (x2) and French Mediterranean landings in 1943-4.

        The exhibits have been spruced up, I can see. Were any of them damaged in action prior to being taken up the St Lawrence?

        My younger daughter was an exchange student at Buffalo Uni, enjoyed her time there (liked travelling to Canada as well) and the wife visited a couple of times. Any maps for the uninitiated?

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