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San Francisco One Tank Trip: Fort Point

Sep 15, 2008
Hidden in the shadows of the Golden Gate is Fort Point National Historic Site, a military outpost that has stood guard at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay since 1853. Situated on what were once 90-foot high cliffs before they were blasted to just above the high tide line to provide better cannon trajectory, this base protected the Bay from the Civil War through World War II.

Visitors can browse four permanent exhibits and a small museum. The exhibits are:

Ready & Forward - Buffalo Soldiers fought for the same beliefs as others did, but usually didn't receive the same kind of respect. Look into the struggle of African-American soldiers in a society that had difficulties accepting them.

Women at War - The roles of women in the military have changed over the years. See how truly significant women were during the wars.

The Lights of Fort Point - Over the centuries, three lighthouses have stood at Fort Point. Learn how sailors depended on these beacons to guide their way into the bay and about the lives of the keepers and their families at this once remote site.

Constructing the Golden Gate Bridge - This photo exhibit depicts the process involved in the construction of the bridge, while using Fort Point as the base headquarters.

In addition to the exhibits Fort Point offers regular programs and ranger tours. Here's a taste of what's available:

Cannon Loading Demonstration - Learn how soldiers were taught to load and fire a Napoleon 12-pounder cannon during a Civil War artillery drill.

Fort Point, Guardian of the Golden Gate - View the award-winning 30-minute video program about the history of Fort Point, from 1776 through World War II.

Building the Golden Gate Bridge - View the construction of this national civil engineering landmark in a videotape made by Bethlehem Steel Company.

Fort History Tour - Join rangers to learn about the soldiers' lives, architecture, cannons, cuisine and lots more. Tours last about 30-minutes.

On Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. from March through October you can join rangers for a pier crabbing demonstration. You will be lent the equipment needed to put your new skills to the test. Program includes information on types of crabs that are legally taken and other regulations. Due to the limited space free reservations are required.

Fort Point is cold and windy most of the time. You can probably count on the temperature being at least 10 degrees cooler than in San Francisco so bring a jacket.

Fort Point is located at the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of Marine Drive on the Presidio of San Francisco. To get there take Highway 101 to the south Golden Gate toll plaza and exit to the right. Turn right at the end of the exit ramp and left onto Lincoln Boulevard. Take the first left onto Long Avenue and follow onto Marine Drive and Fort Point at its end.

Admission is free as are the tours and special exhibits. Presently the park is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Josie Olson loves national parks. Learn about Fort Point at Fort Point National Historic Site Rate Fort Point at Fort Point Ratings
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