Bonita Point / Sausalito, CA
This is not a major tourism destination, as it is not on the standard list of things to do & see in the San Francisco area. The Bonita Point Lighthouse is on the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and west of the 101 Interstate. This area was for a long time, an Army Artillery Post and you can still see the concrete block houses where the guns were positioned. The Army considered the artillery to be the "coastal defense" for San Francisco, as the weapons were intended to guard the western entrance to the Bay from the Pacific Ocean. During the Cold War era (1954), this area contained a Nike Missile Complex and then years later the entire area was turned over to California and became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Fort Baker is a historic army post located in the Marin Headlands. The post, built between 1902 and 1910, is one of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's best examples of the army’s "Endicott Period" military construction, named after the late 19th century Secretary of War, William C. Endicott. The "Endicott Period" refers to the peace time years, between 1865 (the end of the Civil War) and 1898 (prior to the Spanish-American War), when the army had the time to look inward and make improvements to many of its existing military systems.
Fort Baker provides you with the opportunity to get very close to the northern base of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as can be seen, they were installing "suicide nets" on the bridge to prevent "bridge jumpers". Once we had completed our picture taking at Fort Baker, we drove back up the hill and crossed through to the Bonita Point Lighthouse side via the long single lane tunnel that connects the two areas.
NOTE: Be prepared to wait at the tunnel, it is a single lane and it is "time controlled" to allow cars from one side to proceed and even though there may be no cars waiting, the time has to expire before you are allowed to proceed.
Once we were allowed to drive through the single lane tunnel (traffic is allowed to move through in time intervals), we drove to the Bonita Point Trailhead, and began our exploration.
In image # 3 you can see how the fog is trying to obscure one of the barracks buildings. This type of building is where the Army Gun Crews lived while they were maintaining all of the guns. For you image "purists" out there, yes the building was a light green color and we have no idea why?
In image # 5 you can see that the final tunnel leading to the lighthouse is closed for repairs, as there was no other way to reach the lighthouse, that ended our hike.
In image # 6 you can see one of the original artillery gun emplacements. The guns have long since been removed, but they were mounted in those concrete block houses with a "pop-up carriage". This allowed the guns to popup, fire a shot, and then lower down again such that they were less likely to be hit by return fire. The concrete block houses are very strong and well built, so the Army just let them remain instead of destroying them. A volunteer veteran group (the "Fort Baker Retreat Group") helped restore them.
For you Military History enthusiasts out there, the artillery were 12 inch rifled guns utilizing Barbette Mounts and a barrel length of 436 inches. The concrete structures were two story, with powder and shells being kept below the gun level in their own rooms. The gun & carriage structure weighed approximately 120,000 pounds. These were big guns, and as just a comparison, Navy older Battleships such as the USS Arizona carried 14 inch guns - only slightly bigger than these Fort Baker guns.
Now if that last tunnel had not been locked, and we could have proceeded out to the lighthouse - this is what we would have seen. There has been
a lighthouse in this location since 1855, and it was only after we researched why that final tunnel was locked that we found out that the Park
Service only allows access to the lighthouse two days a week. Click here to
go to the Wikipedia Page where you can find the full story about this lighthouse.
NOTE: This image is the property of Joshmt via Wikipedia Commons.
From Fort Baker it is an easy & short drive into Sausalito, where our intention was to have lunch and see some of this picturesque little town. We discovered the Venice Gourmet Delicatessen & Pizzeria with sidewalk seating - right in front of the waterfront. The food was excellent, service was prompt and efficient and the views were the icing on the cake!
As you can see in images 1 & 2, the fog was not present in Sausalito but was still very much lying over San Francisco. San Francisco is only 4 miles across the bay from Sausalito, but the weather for us that day was bright & clear. If you look at image # 2 which was taken looking south from the Venice Gourmet Deli, you can see that San Francisco is still covered by heavy fog.
The San Francisco / Sausalito Ferry is still operated and in our image # 6, the Sausalito Ferry Terminal is immediately behind the building you can see in that picture.
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