Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Cranston
Battery Cranston's Number 1 Gun
Battery Cranston
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 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, 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.
Battery Cranston
by Chuck Wofford
Battery Cranston's 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.
Ammunition Service
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 battery.
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.
Fire Control
The following equipment was in the plotting room which was constructed in 1908
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.
Battery Cranston (Presidio Army Collection, GGNRA)
Battery Cranston
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.
How does 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.
Report of Completed Works - Seacost Fortifications
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Battery Cranston
Battery Cranston Today
Image courtesy of Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Additional Online Histories:
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
National Park Service
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Updated 23 June 2017