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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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications
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.
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
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