Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Cranston
Number 1 Gun
by Gordon Chappell, Regional Historian,
Pacific West Region, National Park Service
Beginning at the Golden Gate Bridge toll
plaza and extending southward along the bluffs at the northwestern
edge of the Presidio of San Francisco are five post-Endicott
Board (1885) seacoast defense batteries. They include some of
the earliest Endicott-type artillery defenses of San Francisco
Bay. When begun, and for some time after completion, these batteries
remained unnamed, and during construction were known simply by
emplacement numbers assigned by the New York Board of Engineers
in preparing the first Endicott-type plan for San Francisco Bay
in 1890. The defenses of San Francisco were nationally second
in priority, preceded only by those of New York Harbor. Sequentially
the first five emplacements were to be five 10-inch guns mounted
on the bluff above Fort Point. These were never built.
Immediately southwest of Battery Lancaster
and today inside the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza fence, this
battery was commenced on June 10, 1897 and constituted emplacements
9 and 10 in the 1890 plan. It was completed in 1898 and mounted
two 10-inch rifles on the Buffington-Crozier 'disappearing' or
retracting carriage. The guns, mounted on 'March 31, 1898, were
30-foot 6-inch-long tubes of Model 1888, Mark II, manufactured
by the Bethlehem Steel Company and were serial numbers 7 and
13. Both were mounted on Model 1996 carriages, serial numbers
29 and 28 respectively, also manufactured by Bethlehem Steel.
The battery was transferred to the heavy artillery on July 11,
1898. By General Orders No. 16, dated February 14, 1902, it was
named in honor of Lieutenant Arthur Cranston, 4th Artillery,
who had been killed in the Lava Beds of northeastern California
in 1873 during the Modoc Indian War. He had been a part of the
Presidio of San Francisco garrison at the time he left for that
Battery Cranston's guns remained in place
throughout World War I, two decades of peace, and the first year
and a half of World War II, being removed in 1943 as obsolete.
Battery Cranston comprised one of the longer used batteries in
the Bay Area. Today the Golden Gate Bridge Authority use the
battery as a storage area.
by Chuck Wofford
number 1 gun (California Center for Military History)
This battery was armed with two 10-inch
guns and were Model 1888 Mark II numbers. 7 and 13, and were
fabricated by the Bethlehem Steel Co. in 1896. The guns cost
$31,725.00, with a range of 16,800 yards. The two guns were mounted
by fiscal year of 1897, by the end of March, some delay having
occurred due to shipment.
These gun were mounted on disappearing
carriages and were made by Bethlehem Iron Foundry, the carriages
were Model 1896 numbers. 29 and 28.
As to ammunition storage and service,
this battery had a Shell Room and a Powder Room. The movement
of ammunition must be very rapid and it is the duty of the Engineer
Department to so design the emplacement so that each and every
step of the ammunition service may be performed with such speed
that the ammunition can be carried to the breech of the gun at
least as rapidly as it can be loaded into the gun and fired.
The ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the Powder
Room and the Shell Room, Each of the two powder rooms measured
11.25' x 30' x 9' (3037.5 cu ft) and held 320 powder charges
and were larger than the shell rooms, and generally stacked four
tiers high, in each room.
The size of the shell room, which was
behind the store room, under the gun on the first floor of the
battery, was 7' x 72' ( 3780 cub ft ) and held 320 shells, in
which were piled in three tiers, also a fourth row could be added
or stacked closer together, also behind the gun in a half circle
on the lower floor was the Shell Room, that held about 75 shells,
and on the first floor behind the guns was a loading area, where
the shell truck took the shell to the breech of the gun.
As with any battery is to be built in
any Engineer district, as much information as may be necessary
is sent to the district officer. On May 25, 1997 they were informed
that plans submitted for Emplacement #9 and #10, rifles on United
States Carriages, Model 1896, had been approved and an allotment
of $57,000.00 made for there construction.
This battery was to be 245' across the
front, and 95' deep and 75' between the guns, beside the Powder
and Shell Rooms, there was also a Plotting Room, that was 12'
x 17'; an Oil Room, that was 12' X 11'; and two Store Rooms,
which were directly behind the gun blocks, in a half circle,
with the Shell Room behind it. Also, there was latrine that was
12' X 7' and a B.C. that was 7' X 7' on the first floor of the
Construction was started, June 10, 1897,
with the grading and clearing of the site, this took about 5
days, then the excavation of dirt and sand from these emplacement
which amounted to 4110 cub yd., The material encountered in the
excavation was loam and clay. The ground was loosened by plowing
and the material removed by carts and used in the construction
of the parapets.
On the timber used in making the forms,
in all cases dressed lumber was used. The forms for the gun and
magazines alone cost $3,957.54, This battery at a cost of $55,702.50.
The pouring of the foundations started
as soon as the excavation was finished and the forms and reinforcing
metal was in place.
There was used 5,132 cubic yards of concrete
used. The reinforcing steel was measured by the pound. There
was over 25,000 lbs. used in place and ready for pouring concrete
and will include allowance for minimum laps, splices and hooks,
if any item needs to be embedded in the concrete such as bolts,
anchor, pipes or other embedded items are firmly and securely
fastened in place indicated on the plans.
There was a lot of loam and clay in the
excavation, which was used in the construction of the parapets,
by July 6 the foundation was finished the concrete being made
by hand, by the 28th of July the forms for the magazines and
the gun emplacement had been completed and the bridging for the
concrete mixer had been put up. The making of concrete by machine
was commenced on that day. In spite of the fact that the lack
of room on the bridge of the concrete plant prevented the material
being handled as expeditiously as it otherwise could have been,
the daily consumption of cement was in excess of that on the
work at emplacement 8,18 and 19, having risen from an average
of 95 barrels on these latter to 110 barrels.
On the 28th of August the rough concrete
work of the magazines, etc, was completed. A total of 4,446 yards
of concrete was used in the magazine building. In addition, 254
cubic yards of rubble rock and 30 cubic yards concrete, obtained
from the magazines and old breast walls that occupied the site
of the emplacement were embedded in the walls. The erection of
the forms for loading platforms at #9 was commenced August 30.
Both loading platforms and gun platforms were completed by the
19th of October. A total of 1,057 cubic yards of concrete was
used on this part of the work. The concrete stairs leading to
the loading platforms required 120 cubic yards of concrete.
Backfilling over the magazines commenced
September 1, which took 3800 cubic yards of backfill and top
dressing, and was continued, when not interrupted by the laying
of concrete for loading gun platforms, until completed. By the
end of November the main work was finished, leaving only such
work as the painting of the interior walls, laying of the floors,
and hanging of the doors. Owing to the large amount of blacksmith's
work necessary on doors and the fact that the doors were eventually
finished. One of the last items to be done is the blast apron,
which is made of concrete, and immediately in front of the gun,
which cost $508.20, they had to be layered very carefully, or
the would be blown away.
The work was completed in 1898, with the
exception of the electric lights and wiring, all the engineering
was completed and the guns were mounted, and were then transferred
on July 11 1898, at a cost of $ 55,431.97.
This battery was electrified around December
of 1899, and supplied power for Batteries Cranston,
Marcus Miller, Boutelle,
Godfrey and Lancaster,
and three B.C. stations. It required 17.07 kilowatt for light
and 66.03 for the hoist and carriage motors. It consisted of
1-20 H.P. Hornsby-Akroyd horizontal oil engine; purchased from
the De La Vergne Co on February 19, 1899. One 12.05 K.W., 125-volt,
direct current, multi-polar, belted dynamo; Bullock Electric
Mfg. Co; purchased on February 19, 1899. This plant furnished
power for three 4-H.P. elevating depressing and retracting motors,
one 4-H.P. traversing motor, and one 7-1/2-H.P. ammunition hoist
motors (Battery Lancaster); five 5-H.P. ammunition hoist motors
(Batteries Cranston and Marcus Miller) and three 7-1/2-H.P. ammunition
hoist. The cost for this plant was $5,786.20 and was transferred
to the Coast Artillery April 27. 1900.
Situated for defense of the Golden Gate
and adjacent water, and was located on the left flank of Battery
Lancaster and on the same line, this battery formerly included
Battery Marcus Miller, guns #2, 3,and 4. It was connected to
water and sewer, with a syphon latrine, it data transmission
was by telephone, it was ventilated by natural draft, 6"
terra cotta vents from magazines terminating at traverse wall.
Limits of Traversing #1: 45 to 178 degrees and # 2: 40 to 175
degrees, Height above mean low water of Axis of Gun Trunnions
in Firing Position: Gun # 1: 199.89 feet. Gun # 2: 199.87 feet.
Trunnion elevation in the battery was 199.9, Datum M.L.L.W.
In the 1906 Earthquake, the following
damage to this battery was done, entrance to shell room cracked
entirely across, on line of east exterior wall of same. Leaks
were repaired, in relocator, telephone, and storage battery rooms,
cracks in sidewall near ceiling. Not serious. Estimated cost
for repairs: $931.00.
The following equipment was in the plotting
room which was constructed in 1908
One Whistler Hearn Plotting Board, # 83,
One Deflection Board 1905 TA # 107,
One Range Board, 1905 Pratt # 28,
One Wind Component Device 1906 TA #24,
in station B
One Lewis Depression Position Finder Type"A"
In the B.C. station there was 1 only Azimuth
Instrument, W.S. Model 1910 # 236. It had a BC and B1, and they
were a standard dug-in station located behind the battery at
an elevation of 245 feet.
Station B was constructed in 1908, with
limiting azimuths, field of view 92-degrees, azimuth and ranges
to datum points in the harbor: Bonita Light-123.023 degrees 5271.194
yards; Mile Rock: 92.212 degrees, 2576.64 yards; Diablo Cross:
165.237degrees, 3925.527 ids, heights above MLW top of pedestal-35.604
feet--Height above MLW axis of instrument--40.000 feet.
Station BC was constructed in November
1908, Limiting Azimuth, Field of Fire-30 to 163-Azimuth and range
to Established Datum Points in the Harbor--Mile Rock Light--195.61
feet--5271-194 ids Bonita Light--101.351o --2567.64 ids- Diablo
Cross--165.237o--3925.527 ids-- Height above MLW top of pedestal--35.604
feet--Height above MLW Axis of Instrument--40.0000 feet.
In a letter dated February 16 1937, this
battery was to be abandoned, and was dismounted April 2 1937,
and was signed by Capt. Shelton 6th Coast Artillery. The balance
of this battery was finally salvaged by the Commanding General,
Fort Winfield Scott and sub post, under directive contained in
Secret letter, Office of Chief of Ordnance, file 0.0. 400.93/28
(S) SPOFX5 to the commanding General Ninth Service Command, dated
January 23, 1943, subject "Salvage of Obsolete Armament
with 1 enclosure.
(Presidio Army Collection, GGNRA)
by Justin Ruhge
Southwest of Battery Lancaster is Battery
Cranston. It was commenced on June 10, 1897 and completed in
1898. This battery mounted two 10-inch rifles on Buffington-Crozier
carriages. The guns, mounted on March 31, 1898, were 30-foot
6-inch long tubes of Model 1888, Mark II, manufactured by the
Bethlehem Steel Company. They were serial number 7 and 13. Both
were mounted on Model 1896 carriages, serial No. 29 and 28 respectively
and manufactured by Bethlehem Steel.
The battery was transferred to the heavy
artillery in July 11, 1898. By General Orders No. 16, dated February
14, 1902, the battery was named in honor of Lieutenant Arthur
Cranston, 4th Artillery, who had been killed in the Lava Beds
of northeastern California in 1873 during the Modoc Indian War.
He had been a part of the Presidio of San Francisco garrison
at the time he left for that campaign.
Battery Cranston' s guns remained in place
throughout World War I, two decades of peace, and the first year
and a half of World War II. The guns were finally removed in
1943, making Battery Cranston one of the oldest batteries in
the Bay Area.
a Disappearing Gun Disappear?
When a lever is pulled, a lead counterweight
drops and the aimed barrel rises to the firing position. After
the gun is fired, its recoil drops the gun below the parapet.
This feature made the gun invisible to enemy ships and protected
the crew during loading. But, while it was an effective weapon
against ships, it had no protection from what its designer could
not have foreseen, the airplane. Batteries designed after World
War I were casemated, providing their crews a large degree of
overhead protection. Below are some rare color photographs showing
the battery's gun in action.
Completed Works - Seacost Fortifications