Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Barry: Battery Construction No. 129
 
Despite its imposing appearance, Battery Construction 129 was never used or completed. It was to be armed with two 16-inch guns mounted. Each gun with its carriage weighed over 1-million pounds and could accurately fire a 2,100 pound shell a distance of 27 miles. This fortification was to have been the highest battery in the San Francisco Bay area.
 
Construction began in 1942. The two guns were to be mounted in the face of the hill, tunneled out to retain a natural appearance and to provide protection from air attack. However, all the work was stopped in 1944, shortly after its guns arrived for mounting. The Army had found that weapons like those at this and similar batteries wouldn't be effective against attacks by aircraft. As a result the fortification was abandoned
 
Battery Construction No. 129 is only a project number. The battery was never officially named or manned.
 
 
 
Battery Construction No. 129
by Jusin M. Ruhge

A secret letter from the War Department, subject "Modernization of Harbor Defense Projects, Continental United States" dated September 26, 1940 marked the beginning of an intensified program for harbor defenses of San Francisco that continued to December 1943.

It included among many other things the construction of a 16-inch battery at Fort Barry designated Batter Construction No. 129.

The adjutant general's letter authorizing this project was dated September 26, 1940. The siting of this huge casemate for two 16-inch guns was authorized in June 1941. Construction however did not get underway until September 1942. This battery was basically similar to Batteries Davis and Townsley but was built the strongest of all the heavy-caliber seacoast batteries and it had the greatest elevation above sea level at 820 feet. The construction was on top of a mountain peak referred to as Diablo Ridge just above the Golden Gate and facing out to sea.

In 1943 to 1944 a road project was undertaken north of the Golden Gate to connect Forts Baker and Barry by a route along the southern bluffs from Battery Construction 129 to Battery
Rathbone-McIndoe. This narrow stretch of road was named Conzelman Road. This new route provided an alternate means to the tunnel of connecting the Forts even though narrow and precarious.

By November 1943 it was clear that Japanese warships would not be attacking American ports, so on November 26 the Office of the Chief of Engineers announced the curtailment of the construction of three 16-inch batteries on the Pacific Coast including Construction 129 at Fort Barry. The division engineer at San Francisco was directed to complete only that work at the battery that was necessary to protect that already built. This involved backfilling and planting for protection against soil erosion, sewer and drainage facilities, lining and portal structure for service tunnels, extension of access roads, and hanging all outside doors and painting them for preservation. When this directive was received at San Francisco the two guns, Navy MK BC 1511, M1, were already at the site and the carriages were due to be delivered in March 1944. The district engineer pointed this out to the chief of engineers and suggested that the guns be mounted when the carriages should arrive. The reply was that the carriages would not be shipped and that the gun tubes were to be stored at the site for an indefinite period. The guns were to be stored in the casemate tunnels. In February 1944 Battery Construction 129 was listed as a "suspended battery." Most work was completed. Any further work was suspended and the guns eventually scrapped. At that time two million dollars had been spent on the construction.

In 2004 the Battery Construction No. 129 is an interesting historical trip to a location with one of the best views around the Bay Area when the weather is clear.
 
 
Battery Construction Number 129's 16-inch rifles on a rail siding in Sausalito awaiting delivery to the battery, Presidio Army Museum Collectio, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications
 
Report of Completed Works, BCN 129
Drawings courtesy of National Archives
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications for Battery Construction No. 129 and associated atructures.
 
 
 
Other Online or Printed Histories
 
FortWiki
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
 
 
Battery Construction No. 129 Today
 
Battery Construction 129 in 2014. The Battery Commander's Station as well as the Battery Control Area for Nike Missile Site SF-87 is located atop of the mountain between the gun emplacements. Trees were perviously removed as part of a historical vegetation restoration program. Image courtesy of the Coast Defense Study Group.
 
The Battery Commander's Station in 2014. Battery Control Area for Nike Missile Site SF-87 was located behind this structure. Image courtesy of the Coast Defense Study Group.
 
Entrance to Battery Construction 129, October 2000
 
 
Entrance to Emplacement 1. October 2000. Trees have since been removed as part of a historical vegetation restoration program.
 
 
Interior of Emplacement 1, still ready to receive its gun. October 2000
 
 
Emplacement 2, October 2000. Trees have since been removed as part of a historical vegetation restoration program.
 
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016