The History and Archaeology of Yerba Buena Island - Military History1868-1878
The Army Post and Depot
By the start of the Civil War in 1861, plans were being made to install a battery for the defense of the Bay on Yerba Buena Island, but these were delayed and it wasn't until three years after the end of the Civil War that a military post and depot were built on the island's eastern shore. The post included a fog signal and an octagonal lighthouse (constructed in 1875) that still stand today. The facility consisted of a dozen buildings, and could house approximately 150 men. Additional information about this period can be found at (Link in bright blue) http://militarymuseum.org/YBI.html.
The post was abandoned in 1878, and only a caretaker lived there until 1891 when a fire destroyed many of the Army buildings.
Army Engineer Torpedo Station
In 1891, the Army began construction of a facility to assemble and store floating mines-which they called torpedoes. These would be placed into the Bay via cable if needed for defense. The Torpedo Station was abandoned in the 1930s.
US Naval Training Station
In 1896, Congress established a US Naval Training Station on Yerba Buena Island-the first naval training facility on the west coast. The Navy contracted for the construction of a wharf, road, barracks, electrical plant, and commandant's house at what had been the Post and Depot. During this time land was leveled for a parade ground and buildings, and fill up to eight feet deep was used to cover what had been the location of Dowling's house and the Army Post. The naval commandant's house was built in 1900 and is today known as the Nimitz House or Quarters One-a beautiful classic revival-style home that was used by Admiral Nimitz during World War II.
Navy Ship Receiving Station
In 1923, the Naval Training Station was moved to San Diego, and Yerba Buena Island became a ship receiving station for the Navy.
In 1936, the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) began construction of the all man-made Treasure Island along the west side of Yerba Buena Island. This would become the home of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition and the American Terminal for the Trans-Pacific Air Clipper Service of Pan American Airways. Treasure Island was originally intended to be a municipal airport after the fair, but was turned over to the US Navy when World War II began. For more information on the fair, visit the web sites listed here:
Treasure Island Naval Station
A portion of Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island made up the Treasure Island Naval Station from 1941 until it was decommissioned and given to the City of San Francisco in 2000. During World War II Treasure Island Naval Station served as the headquarters for the Pacific Fleet.
The US Coast Guard
The Lighthouse Service became a part of the Coast Guard in 1939, and at that time the lighthouse lands on Yerba Buena Island came under Coast Guard control. The Coast Guard has operated on the island since then. In 1970 the current housing and administration facilities were built on the island.