14 February 2016

Gun Battery Davis, a World War II 16" gun emplacement located at Fort Funston, San Francisco: 14 February 2016

I went to the Marin Headlands to visit the site of Battery Townsley. Battery Townsley is one of two identical gun batteries built in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1937 and 1940. In addition to Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands, the government constructed Battery Davis in San Francisco. Battery Davis is located in Fort Funston and is sited on dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Fort Funston is located in the southwestern quadrant of San Francisco.

The massive guns weighed almost 200 tons each, and it required 2 to 3 years to build each weapon. The 16" gun batteries were designed to protect San Francisco Bay from an enemy attempt to bombard San Francisco from ships far out at sea.

Click on an image to view the full-size photograph.
Fort Funston is located on sand dunes. In the late Nineteenth Century, the western portion of San Francisco was known as the "Outside Lands." The Outside Lands consisted of many rolling sand dunes and were sparsely populated. The Outside Lands area is now known as either the Richmond District or the Sunset District. The area is now full of houses, streets, stores, parks, and people. The site of Fort Funston is the only sizable area in the city today that consists of visible sand dunes. 
Gun #1 entryway. The view is looking west towards the former physical location of Gun #1. 
A sign which is located at Fort Funston. 
The approximate distance of the ramble was 6.6 miles. The approximate cumulative elevation gain was 513 feet. Mile markers are displayed on the GPS-generated track. 
A Google Earth view of that part of Fort Funston housed Battery Davis. 700 feet east of Battery Davis' Gun #1 is the location of the underground Plotting Room. Battery Davis contained two guns; each gun was 68 feet long and capable of firing a 2,100-pound armor-piercing round approximately 25 miles out to sea. Gun #1 is the northern gun, and gun #2 is the gun on the southern side of the Battery. 
A view inside the entryway to Gun #1. The doorway to the underground rooms of the Battery is visible. The door is now covered with a sheet of steel and welded shut. 
Gun #1 firing side; looking east. 
The location of Gun #2. It is now completely overgrown with brush. This view is looking southeast. 
Gun #2 entryway. Mount Davidson, at 928 feet, is the tallest natural point in San Francisco. The mountain is framed in the entryway to Gun #2. This view is looking east. 
This was the primary access location to the underground portion of Battery Davis. This entryway is now being subsumed by the sand dunes. The entrance is covered with a steel plate welded to the frame. Someone cut a small opening on the steel plate; I took a photo of the inside through the cut section of the steel plate. 
I took this picture using my camera's flash to illuminate the pitch-black interior. 
The entrance to the Plotting Room is sealed with a wall of concrete. 
The inside of Battery Davis' Plotting Room as seen in 1942. 
I was fortunate to locate the following black and white photographs. They show different stages of the construction of Battery Davis. Most, if not all, of the following photos were initially classified as SECRET, and they were not viewable by the general public. They were eventually released from their secret classification and are now public.
A 16 inch gun in transit to Battery Davis. This location is in Daly City, and many people are looking at a massive weapon. 1937. 
The gun is traveling through Daily City on its trip to Fort Funston on 30 March 1937.
The gun is now in Fort Funston, and they are preparing to off-load the weapon from the truck on 14 April 1937. 
Gun Block # 1. The gun will eventually be mounted on the top of this concrete structure. This photo was taken on 16 April 1937. 
The concrete mount for Gun #1. The gun barrel had been initially manufactured for mounting on the 35,000-ton battlecruiser USS Saratoga, which was halted by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The government found another use for the gun. This photo was taken on 8 April 1938. 
The #1 gun mount is now complete, and the gun is mounted. 18 December 1937. 
Battery Davis' #1 gun before the Battery was casemated. December 1937. 
An aerial view taken during 1937 shows Battery Davis under construction. The arrows point to the two gun mounting locations. Gun #1, at the top, has been mounted. Gun #2, at the bottom, is lying on the ground. When the mounting area construction is completed, Gun #2 will be installed. This photo also shows the underground bunker area under construction. 
A crew working on the casemate of Battery Davis' # 1 gun on 15 September 1938. 
This aerial view of Fort Funston was taken in 1940. The construction of Battery Davis is now complete, and the Battery is nicely camouflaged. 
The battery camouflage, as seen during WWII.
Soldiers are training to load Gun #1 at Battery Davis. Circa WWII. 
Chain hoists and shell room at Battery Davis, 28 February 1939.
The end of Battery Davis. Gun #1 is being prepared for scrapping in "Operation Blowtorch." 1948. 
Workers are scrapping Battery Davis guns after the Battery was deemed obsolete. 1948. 
General Frederick Funston is shown with his aides at Fort Mason, San Francisco, on 18 April 1906. This photo was taken on the afternoon of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. General Funston was the commander of the Presidio of San Francisco at that time. Chaos and anarchy were rampant on the streets of San Francisco. Although he did not have the legal authority to do so, General Funston declared martial law and had the Mayor of San Francisco issue a proclamation stating that looters would be shot and killed. General Funston died in Texas in 1917 at the age of 51. 
The San Francisco 1906 Earthquake Proclamation by E.E. Schmitz, Mayor of San Francisco.
A view from Fort Funston, looking east. Mount Davidson, at 928 feet, is straight ahead on the right. Twin Peaks (Eureka Peak at 904 feet is on the left, and Noe Peak at 910 feet is on the right) is in the center. At an elevation of 909 feet, Mount Sutro is to the left of Sutro Tower. During the Cold War, the summit of Mount Sutro was the location of radar tracking site SF-89C. It worked in conjunction with Nike missile launching site SF-89L, located at the Presidio of San Francisco
"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera." Dorothea Lange 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams
"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt

The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view these photo galleries.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com