CA -- San Francisco -- Golden Gate NRA -- Battery Spencer:
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- BSPENC_041103_22.JPG: Guarding the Gate
For about 100 years -- 1840's to 1940's -- the United States miliary considered San Francisco Bay to be the most important harbor on the West Coast. Early fortifications, such as Alcatraz and Fort Point, focused their short-range firepower on the inner harbor. As the range and accuracy of artillery increased, gun batteries were built farther westward. Their rifled funs, some with ranges of more than 10 miles, were aimed offshore to sink enemy ships before they could reach the Golden Gate.
Typical of batteries of the late 1890's, Battery Spencer was constructed of concrete and partially buried behind a wide parapet of earth. Ammunition magazines were on the lower level. The approach road was below ground level to protect it from enemy view.
Battery Spencer was armed with three 12-inch breech-loading rifles. It remained active until World War II. Soon, aircraft, radar, and antiaircraft missiles replaced gun batteries as the new generation of coast-defense technology.
Defending the Bridge:
Immediately after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the U.S. Army temporarily placed anti-aircraft guns near the toll plaza a the south end [the Fort Point side] of the Golden Gate Bridge and posted sentries on the bridge. First Lieutenant Harry Freeman, assigned to command this detail, considered putting .50-caliber machine guns atop the south tower but realized that supplying the guns and frequent fog would limit their usefulness. His men were determined to prevent air attacks that would imperil San Francisco and its dazzling new bridge.
To guard the Bay, brick and masonry fortifications were built on both sides of the Golden Gate. Huge Rodman cannon mounted here in the 1870's could set up a lethal, overlapping crossfire with similar guns at Fort Point. Some of the brickwork from the 1870's guns is still visible along the path.
As long-range weapons were developed, a new concrete battery -- Battery Spencer -- was constructed at the end of this point in 1895. Spencer mounted three 12-inch rifles, two of which are still in use almost half a century later. In 1943, the battery was disarmed and its guns scrapped, victims of the evolving technology of war.
- BSPENC_041103_33.JPG: Notice the gun turret partially hidden in the hill
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- Wikipedia Description: Battery Spencer
Battery Spencer (1897-1942) - Battery Spencer was a reinforced concrete Endicott Period 12" gun battery located on Fort Baker (1), Lime Point, Marin County, California. Named in G.O. 16, 14 Feb 1902, after Maj. Gen. Joseph Spencer, a Revolutionary War hero who died 13 jan 1789. Battery construction was begun in 1893, completed in 1897 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 24 Sep 1897 at a total cost of $110,352.70. Deactivated in 1942 during World War II.
Endicott Period (1890-1910)
Part of the Harbor Defense of San Francisco. Battery Spencer was a concrete coastal gun battery with three M1888 12" guns mounted on long range Barbette M1892 carriages. It was constructed on top of the five front emplacements of Battery Ridge.
Battery Spencer Outbuildings
Emplacements #1 and #2 were separated by a magazine with two shell rooms, a powder room and a shell hoist room. Emplacement #3 had its own shell room, powder room and hoist room. This was a two story battery with the magazines on the lower level and the gun emplacements on the upper level. The projectiles were originally moved from the magazine level to the loading level with hand powered projectile hoists. These were replaced in 1908 with electric Taylor-Raymond front delivery hoists. The new hoists were accepted for service 30 Sep 1908. There were no powder hoists.
North of Emplacement #1, along the access road, was the BC Post and a separate building that had four rooms, a CO room, a guard room, an oil room and a large 12' by 43' plotting room. On the other side of the road were two other buildings, one housing the tools and rammers and a latrine building with separate facilities for officers and enlisted.
In 1910 the BC post and the plotting room were modified and updated. The work was accepted for service on 5 Aug 1910 at a cost of $ 1680.68.
World War I (1917-1918)
The U.S. entry into World War I resulted in a widespread removal of large caliber coastal defense gun tubes for service in Europe. Many of the gun and mortar tubes removed were sent to arsenals for modification and mounting on mobile carriages, both wheeled and railroad. Most of the removed gun tubes never made it to Europe and were either remounted or remained at the arsenals until needed elsewhere. One gun was removed from emplacement #3 in 1918 and sent to Battery Chester at Fort Miley, it was not replaced and the emplacement was considered abandoned. The carriage remained in place until it was ordered salvaged on 10 Jan 1927.
In 1921 the abandoned emplacement #3 magazine powder room was converted to a power room, with two 25 KW motor-generator sets. The abandoned shell room was converted into a fire control switchboard and the hoist room became a radiator room for the motor generator sets. This work was accepted in July 1921 at a cost of $2,311.50.
World War II (1941-1945)
The remaining two guns and carriages were ordered scrapped 19 Nov 1942 in conjunction with the first large scale scrap drive of World War II.
Part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA) administered by the National Park Service. No period guns or carriages are in place. One of the very best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
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