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Fort MacArthur
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Fort MacArthur

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2004 - 2006.


U.S. Army Post Fort MacArthur guarded the Los Angeles Harbor from 1914 to 1974. Construction of Fort MacArthur was authorized in 1914. The post was named in honor of Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, a Civil War Medal of Honor winner and the father of General Douglas MacArthur. The fort was built in 1916. Constructed as a single two-gun emplacement between 1916 and 1919, each gun was originally designated as a separate tactical battery, thus it had the hyphanated name Battery Osgood-Farley. Later, the battery was considered to be a single tactical unit. Battery Osgood was named for Brigadier General Henry B. Osgood of the Coast Artillery Corps and Battery Farley was named after Brigadier General Joesph P. Farley of the Ordinance Department. Both men were Civil War veterans. Fort MacArthur became the headquarters post for all the harbor defense installations built to guard the Los Angeles harbor area. The big seacoast gun emplacements were built on the "Upper Reservation" at Point Fermin, while the barracks, officer's quarters, and other support structures were built on the "Lower Reservation" next to Pacific Avenue. The Fort was used as a training center after the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. During the 1920s and 1930s the post continued as a training center and oversaw the Army activities in the Southern California area. At the beginning of World War II, the militery began a system of tunels at Fort MacArthur, but few were completed and all have collapsed.

The artilary were 14" disappearing guns that could fire a 1,560 pound projectile 14 miles out into the Catalina Channel. The disappearing carriages of Battery Osgood-Farley were replaced by new ordinance in the mid 1940s. Battery Osgood-Farley's guns were cut up for scrap sometime after 1946. The Army continued to use the rooms and corridors of the battery for various purposes until 1974.

Fort MacArthur became the Los Angeles area headquarters for the Army anti-aircraft defenses in 1951. Beginning in 1954, NIKE surface to air missiles began to replace the U.S. Army antiaircraft guns. Nike missiles were short-ranged two-stage rockets containing high explosive or nuclear warheads that were stored in underground magazines. At it's peak in 1958 sixteen missile launch sites located around Los Angeles were administered through Fort MacArthur. The first Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax battery was emplaced in the mountains above Malibu in 1954. By 1958, there were 16 Nike-Ajax launch sites guarding the greater Los Angeles area. The newer, more powerful Nike-Hercules missiles, capabile of being armed with a nuclear warhead, replaced the Nike-Ajax during the period 1958-1963. On February 4, 1974, the Army ordered all existing US Nike batteries to be deactivated and Fort MacArthur was declared surplus to Army needs. The Upper Reservation and the old tideland section of the Lower Reservation were transferred to the City of Los Angeles in 1977. The rest of the Lower Reservation was transferred to the Air Force in 1982 and Fort MacArthur's 78 years of Army service ended.

Battery Osgood-Farley may be the best preserved example of a modern age coastal defense gun emplacement in the United States today. Battery Osgood-Farley was placed on the Register of National Historical Places in 1976.

There are several pieces of the Fort MacArthuer site, the Upper, Middle, and Lower Reservations. The upper is now a park and land owned by LAUSD. The middle is still a military base, the lower is largely gone now. The Upper Reservation consisted of much more than Battery Osgood-Farley that is now the museum, a short distance away, under the Marine Exchange is Battery Marrium and Battery Leary, which are almost exact copies of Osgood-Farley. Behind are two four-gun mortar barreries Barlow and Saxton. Scattered all around are World War One and World War Two structures which were braacks and other uses. Many are now used of varius communitiy services and clubs. The Hey Rookie Pool was once a favorite spot first for military personal and then civilians. The pool has fallen into disuse and is now an unauthorized skatebaord park. Off at the point, just beyond the Korean Friendship Bell is BNC241, Battery Construction #241 gun enplacement. A mile or so west is Whites Point, now a nature reserve, but in the Cold War, it was the site of Nike Missile launchers. High on the hill above Whites Piont is Battery Bunker, two more gun enplacements. Other smaller guns were placed up and down the cost. Much of the Upper reservation is now park and once a year, Old Fort MacArthur Days is a festival of military reenators and a major fund raser for the Fort MacArthur museum.

The Museum was established in 1985, and is housed in the corridors and galleries of Battery Osgood-Farley. The Fort MacArthur site hold an important collection of historical structures which were part of the U.S. Army's role in the defense of the American continental coastline. These structures trace the development of American coastal defenses, from the all big gun era of the turn of the century to the missile era of the Cold War era. The rooms, galleries and corridors of the Museum contain a variety of exhibits and displays of the Los Angeles harbor defenses from 1916-1945.

The museum is open year-round with special summer hours, 12 to 5 PM (June-August); Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Weekends & Holidays. Admission is free. The Gift Shop is only open on weekends.

Address:
Fort MacArthur Museum
3601 Gaffey St.,
San Pedro, CA 90731
310-548-2631(Museum)
310-548-7705 (Park Office)

Directions: Fort MacArthur Military Museum is located at 36th and Gaffey Streets in San Pedro. Take the 110 Harbor Freeway towards San Pedro. When the freeway ends, turn left onto Gaffey Street. Follow Gaffey south to 36th street. Turn right just after the Angeles Gate / Fort MacArthur sign.

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This ruin's history is not documented and may not be related to Fort MacArthur. It is just up the coast from the breakwater.
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This page last updated: Saturday, 06-Jul-2013 18:19:57 EDT

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