In 1942, the War Department authorized the acquisition of land near Point Sur for use as a radar site. It was initially known as the Point Sur Tactical Position, Harbor Defenses of San Francisco. However, due to the secrecy surrounding radar sites, it was common to give the sites false descriptions that masked their true mission and actual command relationships. Sites were often called "listening posts" or "tactical positions." Some of these sites were also constructed to resemble farm buildings common to the coastal regions of California to further hide their identity. This technique continued throughout World War II. In the War Department Owned, Leased and Sponsored Facilities, 31 December 1945, the Site was still referred to as part of the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco, and it was not shown on any of the Army of the United States Station Lists published by the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army as late as 7 May 1946. The Site was actually under the control of the Fourth Air Force throughout World War II.
The station's primary mission was to detect
and identify all aircraft in its area of responsibility and to
direct fighter interceptors to targets deemed to be possible threats
The Site was initially garrisoned by a detachment of the 656th Signal Aircraft Warning Company which was subordinate to the San Francisco Provisional Control Group, San Francisco Fighter Wing, IV Fighter Command, and Fourth Air Force. On 1 April 1944, the San Francisco Control Group and its subordinate Signal Aircraft Warning Companies were consolidated under a single unit, the 411th Army Air Forces Base Unit (AAFBU).
In a 20 March 1946 document titled, Detailed Plan for the Retrenchment of Fourth Air Force Control Group Installations it was recommended that the Site be retained as an active installation. The report also recommended that the Site assume the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) mission and that it be equipped it be equipped with AN/CPS-1 or AN/CPS-5 radar sets.
On 28 February 1947, all of the air defense radar functions on the West Coast were consolidated and Point Sur's garrison became a detachment of Squadron "B", 412th AAFBU (Western Aircraft Control and Warning Group). The site was inactivated on 30 June 1947,
This site consisted of two parcels approximately 15 miles south of Carmel, California, on the east side of Highway 1 and on a private ranch called the Dowd Ranch. The site was initially was 20 acres and was reduced to 17.65 total acres. The Dowd Ranch leased these parcels to the Army for one dollar per year.
Buildings on the site were the typical wood framed "Theater of Operations" type with selected operational buildings incorporating concrete fortification. Research has not determined the specific defensive armament of the Site, but it was typical for site like this to be defended soldiers equipped with small arms and light machine guns for perimeter defense and .50 caliber machine guns and possibly a 40mm "Bofors" antiaircraft gun for air defense.
Ms. Susanna Danner, Conservation Project Manager for the Big Sur Land Trust is familiar with the site and has stated that there are remnants of concrete "bunkers" on the site. Parcel one of 10 acres was located between Joshua and Dowd Creeks while the second parcel was located 1,000 feet north of Granite Canyon. The Corps of Engineers Warning Notice dated 7 July 1947, states that the station was declared surplus to the needs of the Army effective 30 June 1947. By 31 March 1948, all equipment had been removed by the newly formed U.S. Air Force and the post was turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers for disposal.
Realty Control File Summary (Eng Form 1603),
states that the property was leased under number W-3460-ENG-3979
and that the station consisted of 25 buildings that were sold
on 16 December 1948. The lease was terminated 30 September 1949.
Posted 16 March 2008.
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