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Amazing Adventures on Angel Island

Driving around the bay and looking out at Angel Island, it’s hard to imagine just how spectacular the views are from the Island.  It is all right there, from the San Francisco skyline to the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais, Sausalito, Tiburon, Richmond and Oakland. On a clear day, you can see as far north as Sonoma and as far south as San Jose.

Angel Island was originally a fishing and hunting site for the Coast Miwok Native Americans, Angel Island has been home to cattle ranchers, immigrants, and a camp for the U.S. Army starting at the time of the Civil War. Remnants and relics of wars gone by remain, from the Civil War to the Cold War.

As you walk the perimeter road around the island counter clockwise, the first landmark is West Garrison and Camp Reynolds. Originally constructed at the time of the Civil War, this outpost was built to defend San Franciscans against Confederate soldiers and foreign attacks. It was used as overflow housing for U.S. Troops through the end of World War II.

A little further up the road the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline bring you back into the present, in awe of the beauty of the bay.

 

The next landmark is the Nike Anti-Aircraft Missile Site. Although Angel decommissioned as a military post in 1947, in 1954 missile magazines were constructed on the islands southeast corner above Point Blunt as well as at the top of what is now called Mount Caroline Livermore.

Once upon a time this missile site was part of our front line defense for incoming missiles. Today this vacant launch pad serves as a reminder of the Cold War.

One of the final sites to see as one tours the island is Immigration station, where countless Chinese immigrants were held as part of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Until immigrants could prove that they had husbands or fathers who were U.S. citizens they remained on the island or were subject to deportation. The walls of the station are covered with poems in Chinese of detainees, both heart wrenching and beautiful. Though there were immigrants from a total of 84 different countries, approximately one million of these were Chinese. In 1943 the Exclusion Act came to an end when China became our partner in World War II.

At that point, there were numerous prisoners of war held on the island, though they were given free roam.

The combination of the scenery and the history of the island make it one of the most amazing hikes that the Bay Area has to offer.