Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles
by Mark J. Berhow
Coast Defense Study Group
 
 
Because San Pedro Bay was so shallow, Los Angeles did not have a major harbor until the Army Corps of Engineers began improvements in the late 1800s. After a breakwater was constructed (1899-1910), Los Angeles harbor became the important port it is today. Because of its late development, no real consideration for harbor defenses were made until about 1900. When construction was authorized in 1914, Los Angeles became the only area in the continental United States to receive major fortification construction under the "Taft Board-era". For further information contact:

The Fort MacArthur Military Museum Association
Fort MacArthur Station Box 2777
San Pedro CA 90731
 
Fort MacArthur (Lower Reservation)

Fort MacArthur Installation, Los Angeles AFB: Entrance off of Pacific Ave., near 26th St. in San Pedro. Access by permission only
Cabrillo Marina:Cabrillo Marine Museum, Hotel and Restaurants Entrance is onVia Cabrillo Marina off of 22nd St., San Pedro
Cabrillo Beach Park: Stephen M. White Drive off of Pacific Ave. at 32nd St., San Pedro

Following the Spanish occupation of California in 1770, a small tract of land on the bluffs above San Pedro Bay was generally regarded as the public access to the beach. A 500 varas (a unit of measure of about 32 to 43 inches) square Mexican government reserve was officially confirmed at San Pedro Bay in 1846 by California Governer Pio Pico. After the treaty of Guadalupe ended the Mexican War a gave California to the United States, this reserve was surveyed and reserved as a United States Government Reservation in 1856. This tract, with the addition of the adjacent tidelands in 1897, became the Lower Reservation of Fort MacArthur (named after Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, Civil War Medal of Honor winner and a commanding general in the Philippines during the Insurrection) in 1914. After some debate, most of the major Army buildings were located on this tract beginning in 1916. The two 14" railway guns were stationed on this reserve, the first arriving in 1925. The post was used extensively during the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War years and was the HQ for the Los Angeles Basin Nike missile defenses. In 1974 the post was made a subpost of Fort Ord and part of the reserve was leased to the city, which dredged out the old fill lands and developed a marina, a park and a marine museum. The rest of the reservation including the barracks area, parade ground and officer's row (but minus the hospital area, now demolished) was transferred to the Air Force in 1982, which currently uses the lands as a housing subbase for servicemen stationed at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo.
 
Fort MacArthur (Upper Reservation)

Angels Gate Park : Fort MacArthur Military Museum, Korean Peace Bell, Angels Gate Cultural Center, 36th Ave. and Gaffey St., San Pedro
Point Fermin Park: At the intersection of Paseo Del Mar, Shepard St. and Gaffey St., San Pedro

The Upper Reservation was acquired from private developers in 1910 after it was decided to locate the guns to defend the Los Angeles harbor at a position more seaward than the existing San Pedro Reserve (the Lower Reservation). The major weapons were emplaced here during the years 1915-1919. The Upper Reservation was leased to the city of Los Angeles in 1976. Today the area is jointly administered by the Los Angeles Unified School district, which uses the old WWI cantonment buildings, and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, who maintains the multióuse Angeles Gate Park. There are a number of harbor defense related structures still present on the reservation including WWI-era and WWII-era barracks, searchlight shelters, fire control stations, a Panama mount and four gun batteries. Battery Osgood-Farley, on the register of National Historic Sites, is the home of the Fort MacArthur Museum. The Museum is attempting to restore the battery to its 1941 appearance and houses a number of artifacts, photographs and documents on the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles, the Coast Artillery Corps, and the Nike defenses of Los Angeles. The display area next to the museum contains a M1918 155mm GPF and a restored Nike-Ajax missile.
 
Fort MacArthur White Point Military Reservation
White Point Park: From Paseo Del Mar turn north on Walker St. proceed two blocks to Silvius St., turn left and follow Silvius to its end at Weymouth where the gate to old military road is located which is generally locked. San Pedro.

A small section of land in this area was acquired in the 1910s for the construction of fire control stations. The reserve was enlarged for the construction of Battery Construction #127 (later named Battery Paul D. Bunker) beginning in 1941. The reserve was subsequently used as a Nike launch site. Today, the land is leased to the city of Los Angeles, but no use has been assigned to the property. Two fire control stations (The Fort Commander's station and the Primary Fire Command Station) have been destroyed due to construction of Navy housing in 1965. The other stations have been partially buried but are still visible on the ridge top to the east of Battery Bunker. Battery Bunker and Nike site LA-43 L have been sealed up to prevent vandalism. The gates to the park are usually locked, but a number of holes exist to gain entry.
 
Long Point Military Reservation (Point Vicente)

Point Vicente Park: Visitors Center off of Palos Verdes Drive, HD remains near City Hall off of Hawthorne Blvd. north of its intersection with Palos Verdes Drive. City of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Acquired in 1930 for new fire control stations, this property was enlarged during WWII for the construction of a 6" gun battery and then subsequently used as a Nike launch site in the 50s and 60s. Some of the land has gone to private developers who have subsequently destroyed the WW II era fire control stations and the Nike radar site further up the ridge. The US Coast Guard uses Battery 240 (Battery Barnes) to house radar equipment. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall is housed in the modified buildings of the Nike era and uses the Launch area for a maintenance yard. The 1930s era fire control stations are located on the hillside to the east of the Nike launch site, behind a radio controlled model helicopter helipad. They were (1988) among the best preserved Fire control Stations in the Los Angeles area.
 
Ventura 155mm Battery

Emma Sands State Beach, Seaside Wilderness ParkFrom Emma Sands State Beach, off of Hwy 101, west of Ventura. Walk south on beach to north side of mouth of Ventura River.

Two Panama mounts remain at this site, but are now awash in the surf. Behind the mounts, under the trees are a few foundations of the associated buildings.
 
Bolsa Chica Military Reservation

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.


Artillery Armament of the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles
Taft Period

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Osgood

 1

14 Inch M1910MI

 M1907 Disappearing

 1915

 1919

 1944 (1)

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Farley

 1

14 Inch M1910MI

 M1907 Disappearing

 1915

 1919

 1944

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Merriam

 1

14 Inch M1910MI

 M1907 Disappearing

 1915

 1919

 1944

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Leary

 1

14 Inch M1910MI

 M1907 Disappearing

 1915

 1919

 1944

Fort MacArthur (Upper)

 Barlow

 4

12 Inch M1890MI 

 M1896MIII Mortar

 1915

 1917

 1943

Fort MacArthur (Upper)

 Saxton

 4

12 Inch M1890MI

 M1896MIII Mortar

 1915

 1917

 1943

 Deadman's Island

 Lodor

 4

 3 Inch M1903

 M1903 Pedestal

 1919

 1919

 1927 (2)

(1) Battery Osgoodís gun was originally a M1910. In 1923, it was removed, converted into a M1910MI and remounted.
(2) Fort MacArthur was initially composed of two seperate tracts of land, the Upper, and Lower Reservations. Battery Lodor was at another separate location, on a sand spit connecting the northern tip of Terminal Island and Deadmans Island. In 1927, the guns were taken out and put in storage, and Deadmans Island was removed to widen the harbor entrance. In 1942 Lodor's guns were re-emplaced in the two parts of Battery JAAN. JAAN#1 was located on the Lower Reservation next to the jetty, while JAAN#2 was located at Bluff Park in Long Beach next to Ocean Drive at Lindero St.
 
Post World War I

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort MacArthur (Lower)
Anti-Aircraft

 2

3 Inch M1917

 M1917 Pedestal

 1920

 1920

 ?

White Point
Anti-Aircraft

 2

3 Inch M1917

 M1917 Pedestal

 1920

 1920

 ?

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Anti-Aircraft

 2

3 Inch M1917

 M1917 Pedestal

 1929

 1929

 1942 (1)

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Hogsdon

 2

155mm GPF

 Field Mount

 1928

 1928

 (2)

Fort MacArthur (Lower)
Anti-Aircraft

 2

3 Inch M1917

 M1917 Pedestal

 1929

 1929

 1942

Fort MacArthur (Lower)
Erwin

 2

155mm GPF

 Field Mount

 1928

 1928

 1945 (3)
 
(1) Four AA emplacements were constructed in 1920: two on the white Point Reservation and two on the bluffs on the Middle reservation. In 1929 the two AA guns at the Lower Reservation were transferred to new positions on the cliff edge on the Upper Reservation. In 1942 a new three gun AA battery was built behind Battery 241. Two of those guns had carriages orginally emplaced at White Point.
(2) Hogsden's guns may have been used in Tactical Battery #6 in 1942.
(3) In 1926, a single emplacement for the 14" railroad gun was built on the Middle Reservation for the gun which arrived in 1925. A second gun arrived in 1930. In 1936 two emplacements were constructed for the guns on the Lower Reservation and the 1926 emplacement was abandoned
 
World War II Temporary

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Pacific Palasaides
Tactical Battery 1

2

155mm GPF

 Panama Mount

1942

1942

 1944

Playa del Rey

 Tactical Battery 2

2

155mm GPF

 Field Mount

 1942

-

 (1)

El Segundo/ Hyperion

Tactical Battery 2

2

 6" Navy

 Pedestal Mount

 1942

1942

 1943 (1)

El Segundo/ Hyperion

Tactical Battery 2

2

 155mm GPF

 Panama Mount

 1943

1943 

 1943 (1)

  Manhatten Beach

 Eubank

2

 8 Inch MkVI M3A2

 M1 Railway Mount

 1942

 1942

1945

   Redondo Beach

 Tactical Battery 3

2

155mm

  Field Mount

1942

 1942

1943

   Rocky Point

 Tactical Battery 4

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

(2)

   Long Point

 Tactical Battery 5

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

-

  Fort MacArthur (Upper)

 Tactical Battery 6

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

(3)

Bolsa Chica

 Tactical Battery 7

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

 Costa Mesa

 Tactical Battery 8

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

(2)
(1) The El Segundo site was originally armed with 2-6" Navy pedestal mounted guns, these were later removed and the gun mount modified to hold 2-155mm GPFs, which were transfered from a field mount location in Playa Del Rey.
(2) Three Panama mounts were were constructed at the Rocky Point and Costa Mesa sites, but the sites only received two guns each.
WW II Temporary
(3) Hogsden's guns may have been used in Tactical Battery #6 in 1942.
 
 
Other World War II Temporary In Southern California

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Santa Barbara
Tactical Battery 1

2

155mm GPF

 Panama Mount

1942

-

-

Ventura/Camp Seaside

 Tactical Battery 2

2

155mm GPF

 Panama Mount

 1942

-

-

  Oxnard

Tactical Battery 3

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

-

  Port Hueneme

Tactical Battery 4

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

-

1940 Program

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

 Point Vincent

Harry C. Barnes

2

 6 inch M1903A2

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

1942

 1944

-

White Point

Paul D. Bunker

2

16 inch MarkIIMI

 Casemated Long Range Barbette M1919M4

1942

 1943

1948

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
241

2

6 inch T2M1

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M4

1943

 1944

1956

Fort MacArthur (Upper)
Anti-Aircraft

 3

3 Inch M1917A2

 M1917MII Pedestal

1942

 1942

 194? (1)

Fort MacArthur (Upper)

Gaffney Bulge

4

90mm M1

  Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

1942

  -

  -

Fort MacArthur (Lower)

 Navy Field

4

90mm M1

 Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

 1942

  -

Fort MacArthur (Lower)

 Navy Field

2

 37mm

Mobile

1942

  -

  -

Bluff Park, Long Beach

Bluff Park

4

90mm M1

 Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

 1942

  -

  -

Bluff Park, Long Beach

Bluff Park

2

 37mm

Mobile

1942

  -

  -

Bolsa Chica

Battery 128

2

16 inch

 Casemated Long Range Barbette

 1943

 Not Completed
 (3)
Additional History

Bolsa Chica
Harry J. Harrison

2

6 inch T2M1

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M4

1943

 1944
(3)
Additional History

Cabrillio Beach

 Joint Army and Navy (JAAN) 1

2

 3 Inch M1903

 M1903 Pedestal

1942

 1942

 1945 (2)

Long Beach

 Joint Army and Navy (JAAN) 2

2

 3 Inch M1903

 M1903 Pedestal

1942

 1942

 1945 (2)

 Terminal Island

Terminal Island

4

90mm M1

 Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

 1943

  -

  -

 Terminal Island

Terminal Island

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943

  -

 -

 Outer Harbor Breakwater

Dolphins

10

 37mm

Mobile

 1942

  -

 (4)
 
(1) Now buried.
(2) Fort MacArthur was initially composed of two seperate tracts of land, the Upper, and Lower Reservations. Battery Lodor was at another separate location, on a sand spit connecting the northern tip of Terminal Island and Deadmans Island. In 1927, the guns were taken out and put in storage, and Deadmans Island was removed to widen the harbor entrance. In 1942 Lodor's guns were re-emplaced in the two parts of Battery JAAN. JAAN#1 was located on the Lower Reservation next to the jetty, while JAAN#2 was located at Bluff Park in Long Beach next to Ocean Drive at Lindero St.
(3) 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.
(4) Emplacements destroyed
 
 
Mine Field Facilities
 
In addition to artillery, mine fields were also employed to protect the harbor entrances by the Army from the turn of the century to 1945. Mine facilities ashore included the mine wharf, a tramway, torpedo storehouse(s) and loading room(s), cable tank(s), mining casemate(s) and observing station(s). The 'fleet' included a mine planter, a distribution box boat and some yawls. The mine fields were protected by light artillery batteries of 3 inch to 8 inch caliber guns.
 
Mine facilities were constructed at Fort MacArthur, but mines were never actually deployed at these locations.
For Further Information
To check out the Fort MacArthur Museum 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)
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016