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Battery 129, Fort Baker, HDSF

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Joined: 31 Aug 2012
Posts: 39
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:44 am    Post subject: Battery 129, Fort Baker, HDSF Reply with quote

So while I was in the Bay Area I checked out some Forts in the Marin Headlands. I wanted to see how Bty. 129 looked like these days since hearing that the NPS removed all the trees the Army planted on Hawk Hill as camo. I guess they wanted to revert the hill back to its natural state in term of vegetation.

Here is a 1944 map of the area.

A telephoto shot from the top of the Fort Barry Mine Casemate.

this area no longer is a lush wooded area like it used to be.

Looks like the NPS has finally sealed up the old escape shaft to keep people out. In the past this was this entrance to the battery was fairly hidden, but if one know about it, it was the only entry to the battery down the escape shaft ladder.

Even the BC station on top of the battery has been completely sealed up. This station used to be open to the public in the past.

There is a nice view of the Fort Barry rifle range.

Gun emplacement #1. No guns where ever mounted here, although the carriages where built and the gun tubes where on site when construction was halted because if the turn of events in the war/

Pit for the M1919 Mark II naval guns and BCLR.

Rear entrance gallery to the gun position.

Shot of the welded up entrance to the traverse galleries. Notice the recently welded up square in the door. That's where the Marin Fire Department cut open the door tp rescue a kid that fell down a vent shaft and broke his leg. Apparently they where trying to explore the interior of the battery. Hence the extra efforts to seal up the emergence escape shaft.

And then I ran across this: Don't ask what this is all about, because I have no idea. They where atop the battery for some sort of photo shoot.

Here is the RCW sheet for Battery Construction #129.

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Joined: 31 Aug 2012
Posts: 39
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, my initial description if this hill is not accurate. The trees indeed where not planted by the US Army as camo, but where a later addition to the hill.

Here is the story behind the urban legend:

(courtesy of John Martini via the Coast Defense Yahoo Mailing List)


I wanted to clarify that Btry Const 129 was never camouflaged with trees. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has original camouflage plans at the Park Archives in the Presidio documenting how the army planted thousands of baccaharis (coyote brush) as camouflage. The reason for using this native vegetation was to return the hillside to its natural appearance and make the massive structure blend with the local terrain.

It’s local San Francisco lore that the army planted non-native cypress and pine trees as camouflage. In fact, the NPS discovered the trees around Battery 129 didn’t appear until the 1960s. Using on historic photos, it appears a few ornamental trees were planted when the hilltop was a radar site for nearby Nike Site SF87L, and that the trees spread rapidly after the military departed the site in 1972.

That’s why the NPS removed the trees — to return the hill to both its natural AND historic appearance. It was a “partnership” (to use a hackneyed term” between historic preservationists and naturalists.

And this;


The story about the trees being planted as camouflage started in the 1960s when large stands of trees became noticable. We try to debunk the legend whenever we hear it, especially since it often takes an anti-military tone, such as ‘If you want to find the bunkers, just look for the trees. The army was so dumb they planted trees for camouflage where none grow naturally.’

We’re still researching how all the trees got to the Headlands but it’s likely some were planted as unofficial landscaping efforts in the 1950s, possibly Boy Scout projects. Others are pure “volunteers” that sprouted from the landscaping trees or random seeds deposited by birds or vehicle tires.

It all makes sense now....
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