California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
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Preserving California's Military Heritage
Historic California Posts
Bolsa Chica Military Reservation
by Mark J. Berhow
Coast Defense Study Group
 

Bolsa Chica Marine Reserve: Parking off of Warner Ave. near intersection with Pacific Coast Highway, or parking off Pacific Coast Highway 1/2 mile south of intersection with Warner Ave. Huntington Beach.
 
Signal Oil Corporation: South of intersection of Bolsa Chica Rd., and Los Patos Ave. Permission must be sought, "No Trespassing" signs are posted.

This property was originally home to a local gun club. After the Army located two Panama mounts there in 1942, the gun club became a rather fancy barracks building. In 1943, Battery 242 and 128 were constructed behind the 155 battery. Battery 242 was completed and named Battery Harry J. Harrison, but Battery 128 was halted short of completion. Both emplacements were located on the private property area and were destroyed during 1993-1995 to make way for a new housing development. The Panama mounts are visible and located on Marine Reserve land on a bluff above the lagoon. The foundations of the gun club are just behind, on private property. From a riding stable at the rear of the property the entry way to Battery 128's PSR can be seen, but it is sealed shut.
 
Acquisition and Disposal
 

On 15 May 1942, the War Department acquired 771.956 acres of land through fee, leaseholds and permits from 14 separate parties. 634.77 acres were acquired in fee in a condemnation action by two separate leases (630.65 acres from Katherine Torrence et. al., and 4.12 acres from the Pacific Electric Railway Company). An additional 137.186 acres were acquired in fee, easements, licenses, and lesser interest from 12 separate parties.

The site was used by the Army for Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles by Fort MacArthur during World War II, specifically as a shore artillery battery. DOD structures were built in the northern half of the site consisting of fortification structures and buildings, two gun emplacements, a water tank and tower, transformer vault, two underground tanks, and electrical and water utility systems.

In 1948 all of the site was declared excess except a 6.20 acre parcel and necessary easements. By judgement entered in 1949, 634.77 acres was revested in the former owners (6.20 acres of the Katherine Torrence tract was retained as were easements for communication cable [1.39 acres], power line [0.71 acres], water [0.22 acre], and roadway [3.33 acres]). The War Assets Administration (WAA) assumed accountability for 123.006 acres on 1 February 1949. An additional 14.18 acres were reassigned to WAA on 11 February 1954 for LA Battery Bolsa Chica, making a total of 137.186 acres. Late in 1949, 116.24 acres (of the 137.186 acres) were declared surplus and revested in their former owners. The remaining 20.946 acre tract was conveyed by the Government to the Ocean View School District (OVSD) on 12 September 1949. The OVSD breached the conditions of this contract, subsequently the tract was transferred by GSA to the Department of the Army on 3 June 1954. Both the 20.946 acre tract and the 6.20 acre tract were acquired for Nike Battery Bolsa Chica. However, due to a change in criteria for Nike sites, the subject land could not be used.

The 6.20 acre tract was relinquished by quit claim deed to a private individual on 15 August 1959. At present, the northern part of the site is vacant, and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve encompasses the southwestern quadrants of the site. The OVSD owns 15.33 acres of the 20.946 acre tract. The remaining 5.616 acres is privately owned. The property to the north of Los Patos Ave has been subdivided and developed into several single family homes. Several utility lines traverse the property, and there is a network of oil pipelines on the site.

Maps
 
Map 1
Map 2


Artillery Armament of the Bolsa Chica Military Reservation
World War II Temporary

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

 Tactical Battery 7

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

-
(
1940 Program

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

128

2

16 inch

 Casemated Long Range Barbette

 1943

 Not Completed

 (1)
Harry J. Harrison

2

6 inch T2M1

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M4

1943

 1944

(1)
 

(1) Sometime after WWII, the guns of Battery Harrison were removed and transferred to Battery 241. Both Battery Harrison and Battery 128 are to be destroyed for a housing development.

For Further Information
To check out the Fort MacArthur Museum website for further information, CLICK HERE
To check out the Fort Wiki website for further information, CLICK HERE

Available from Amazon.com:

Seacoast Fortifications of the United States: An Introductory History 
by Emmanual R. Lewis 
Paperback. Published by the United States Naval Institute. 1993 

Available from Fort MacArthur Military Press

California's Railway Guns and their Home at Fort MacArthur
Small, Charles S.
Railhead Publications, Canton, OH 1984

The Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles, a Reference Manual
Berhow, Mark A.
Fort MacArthur Military Press, San Pedro, CA 1992

Guardian at Angels Gate: Fort MacArthur Defender of Los Angeles
Berhow, Mark A. and Gustafson, David
Fort MacArthur Military Press, San Pedro, CA (draft manuscript)

Updated 13 January 2013
 


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