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Historic California Forts

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Benicia Arsenal

Camp Yerba Buena Island

Drum Barracks

El Presidio De Santa Barbara

Fort Alcatraz

Fort Baker

Fort Barry

Fort Bidwell

Fort Bragg

Fort Crook

Fort Guijarros

Fort Humboldt

Fort Independence

Fort MacArthur

Fort Mason

Fort McDowell (Angel Island)

Fort Point

Fort Reading

The Presidio And Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

The Presidio And Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California,

photo by Jon Sullivan, 2005.

Fort Rosecrans

Fort Ross

Fort San Bernardino

Fort Tejon

Fort Yuma

Presidio of Monterey

Presidio of San Diego

Presidio de San Francisco

Presidio Of Sonoma

Sutter's Fort


From old Spanish presidios, to trading post fortresses, and military establishments created for the Civil War and to fight the Indians, California has numerous forts that continue to stand today.


California Forts:


Camp Yerba Buena IslandCamp Yerba Buena Island - The 116 acre island, situated in San Francisco Bay and nicknamed Goat island, was originally intended for the installation of artillery batteries in defense of the bay. The first recommendation for garrisoning the island was made in 1861, but construction was delayed until after the Civil War . Established in 1868, it served as a regular Army camp, which included the construction of a fog signal and octagonal lighthouse in 1875, which still stands today. In 1880, the island and its improvements were transferred to the Navy Department.


Just before the turn of the 20th century, the first U.S. Naval Training Station on the Pacific Coast was established on the north east side of the island and in 1900 Quarters One, also known as the Nimitz House, was built as the Commandant's residence. The training station closed in 1916.




For the 1939 world's Fair, the bay was dredged and fills added to the shoals on the north shores, creating "Treasure Island" as a fair site. The island is now a naval headquarters and an anchorage for the Oakland Bay Bridge. In 1996, the naval base and the Presidio de San Francisco were decommissioned, and opened to public control, with certain conditions. The island today, features numerous buildings during that once served the U.S. military, as well as buildings from the 1939 World's Fair. The island can be reached from either side of San Francisco Bay by taking the Yerba Buena exit off the Oakland Bay Bridge.


El Presidio De Santa Barbara

El Presidio De Santa Barbara, courtesy Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation


El Presidio De Santa Barbara - During the 18th Century, the Spanish established a chain of four military fortresses along California's coast to protect their holdings, the last of which was the Santa Barbara Royal Presidio, established in April, 1782. A wilderness frontier at the time, these presidios protected the missions and settlers against Indian attacks, guarded the country against foreign invasion, and provided a seat of government.

The presidio's first commander, José Francisco Ortega, planned the fortifications and irrigation works, obtained livestock, established orchards, and began large-scale farming.


In 1786, the nearby Mission Santa Barbara was established and the settlement that grew up around the presidio and mission became the town of Santa Barbara. 


The Santa Barbara presidio served as the military and government headquarters for the lands between the Pueblo of Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo until 1846. During this time, it was never attacked by strong military forces, but suffered several devastating earthquakes in the early 19th century, which destroyed most of the fortress. By the time of the  Mexican-American War, very little remained of the fort, which was surrendered without a fight in December, 1846.


Today, the El Presidio de Santa Barbara is a California State Historic Park located in downtown Santa Barbara. Two of its original buildings, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have been restored and five others reconstructed.


Contact Information:


Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

PO Box 388,
Santa Barbara, California  93102




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