Fort Point (3)

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Fort Point (3) (1853-1914) - Originally a Third System brick Fort established under the supervision of 1st Lt. William H.C. Whiting (Cullum 1231), U.S. Corps of Engineers, and under construction 1853 to 1861. Renamed Fort Winfield Scott after Major General Winfield Scott, 25 Nov 1882. The old fort was declared obsolete in 1905 and abandoned for military purposes in 1914. Also known as Fort Scott (1), Fort Blanco, Castillo de San Joaquin and Old Fort Scott.

Fort Point as it appeared around the end of the U.S. Civil War
Old Fort Point During Golden Gate Bridge Construction

Early History

One of the original Spanish Cannons

The first fortification at the Punta del Cantil Blanco was the Spanish Fort Blanco, completed 8 Dec 1794. This was a horseshoe shaped fort that mounted eight bronze cannons cast in Lima, Peru. Four of these cannons still exist on the Presidio of San Francisco and two on Fort Mason (2).

In 1853, the army razed the old fortification and cut away a solid foundation out of the base of the cliff and began work on Fort Point. Colonel Joseph K.F. Mansfield inspected Fort Point on 4th and 5th of May 1854, and found construction supervised by Brevet Major John G. Barnard (Cullum 708). He noted that the design was not yet complete and that he thought the fort should mount at least 200 guns.

Fort Point was a Third System brick fort completed in 1861 and initially garrisoned by two companies of the 3rd U.S. Artillery. It was originally built to prevent entrance of a hostile fleet into San Francisco Bay and was designed to mount 126 large cannon. It was the only Third System brick fort built on the west coast of the United States.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Old Fort Point at the Base of the Golden Gate Bridge

Fort Point was rushed to completion at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War and was occupied throughout the U.S. Civil War by Union Forces. The advent of faster, more powerful rifled cannon made brick forts such as Fort Point obsolete before the war was over. In 1882, General Order 133 renamed Fort Point as Fort Winfield Scott. Over a series of reconfigurations, Fort Winfield Scott came to encompass most of the military reservation at the northern tip of San Francisco including the old Fort Point. In 1886, the post was downgraded to a sub-post of the Presidio of San Francisco and the troops were withdrawn from the old fort.

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Fort Point Interior

The recommendations of the Endicott Board resulted in a massive construction program that built some eighteen concrete coastal gun batteries over a period of thirty years. The boundaries of the fort expanded to encompass all of the new gun batteries but additional batteries to the south resulted in the creation of two new forts, Fort Miley and Fort Funston. The northern side of the Golden Gate has a similar expansion during this period at Fort Baker (1) and with the creation of Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite. The old Fort Point was not included in the plan and it was declared obsolete in 1905 and abandoned for military purposes in 1914. In 1912, the Fort Winfield Scott (2) name was reused to describe the new independent Coastal artillery post constructed to service the Endicott Period gun batteries.

World War II (1941-1945)

During World War II, Old Fort Point was manned by a detachment of about 100 soldiers who manned searchlights and four rapid-fire 3" guns mounted atop the old fort. This was a part of the protection system for a submarine net strung across the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

Fort Point (3) World War II Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery Fort Point 4 3" Pedestal 1942-1942-1943-1946 2 Guns from Battery Yates, Fort Baker (1)
2 Guns from Gravelly Beach, Fort Baker (1)
Source: CDSG

Current Status

Part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA) administered by the National Park Service. A National Historic Site since 16 Oct 1970.

Location: Under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 37.8108 Long: -122.4769



Visited: 22 Aug 2009

Fort Point (3) Picture Gallery

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