Fort McDowell, Angel Island, San Francisco, Califonia (2017)

I was positively surprised as I began to cycle round Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. I had expected it to be mostly nature & views, but soon the first modern ruins began to appear.

Concrete Bunker.jpg

These are the remains of the battery Ledyard, two concrete platforms that carried cannons on them until 1915. They were never fired and were later taken away, but the huge, solid platforms were left behind. I went & took a look inside to get away from the sun.

La La

One room had mysterious writing on the wall – a secret code or a message from some lovers?


The batteries were there for a purpose. Angel Island was living peacefully in the middle of the San Francisco Bay until 1860s when U.S. Army fortified it for the Civil War. Attack never came, but as the building had begun, it continued, and a military garrison, named Fort McDowell, was established into the eastern part of the island. The first signs of it – or should I say what was left of it – came into the view half an hour after leaving the battery behind.

Eastern Garrison

There was never actual fighting in the Angel Island or the San Francisco Bay. The buildings were used for training & transit of the troops, for example during the Spanish-American war. At 1910 the infamous immigration station was built near the barracks, handling about million immigrants from Asia. Many places were still in use at the outbreak of World War II, and were expanded for its needs. The old garrison is nowadays most interesting of them, as it is beautifully ruined, revealing the scars of the past without exhibiting them. The soldiers were living at the big compound at the water’s edge, and the officers on the hill.

Administration Building.jpg
Administration Building

Fort McDowell’s former administration building on the roadside was basking in the Californian sun like a nicely rotten corpse. It had also an extensive, colonial style courtyard.


As all the doors & the windows were missing from the courtyard side, I could just step inside.


After World War II Fort McDowell was left empty, and army exited Angel Island finally in 1960s. The area became a state park, and all the buildings stayed there – protected but abandoned.

Sunny Room.jpg
Officer’s Barracks

Fort McDowell officer’s barracks were looking fine and dandy as the bright sun filtered through the nonexistent windows. On the other side of the yard the light was smoother, lonelier.

Lonely Light

Rooms were bare but in good condition, considering that they had been left alone for decades.


There is no knowing what’s going to happen to them in the future. The old immigration station has been renovated and opened as a museum, but the Fort McDowell barracks seem to communicate their past better just as they are – an elegantly ruined modern ghost town.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s