Friday, December 16, 2016

Fort Point NHS

On the very northern edge of land, guarding the entrance to San Francisco Bay, lies Fort Point NHS. The US built it in 1853 to protect the Pacific coast.  Then, when the Civil War broke out, it protected the bay from a potential Confederate attack, manned by 500 soldiers.  That attack never came, though.

The fort was constructed in the same style as most other Civil War-era forts:  of brick, multiple stories high.  Thankfully, it never did come under attack, however, because its construction was obsolete almost as soon as it was constructed since rifled cannon could considerably damage the brick fortifications.  Thus it was largely abandoned after the Civil War and then completely unused by the Army by the early 1900s.

In addition to its role as guardian of San Francisco Bay, its lighthouse also protected friendly mariners entering and exiting.  

Most striking, today, is that the fort sits directly beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, now dwarfing what must have then been an impressive structure.  In fact, it was the bridge's completion in 1964 that forced discontinued use of the lighthouse. 

Tours of the three-story fort are self-guided, allowing you to explore nearly every nook and cranny. The officer and enlisted quarters have been recreated, and Rangers were on duty to answer questions when I was there.  Be sure to take one of the spiral staircases in one of the towers up to the roof, where spectacular views await.  As you can tell from the pictures, I spent most of my time here!  Second only to the views from the fort's roof are the vistas along the peninsula's coast as you make your way to the fort.  I snapped the one below less than a mile away.

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