Batteries Rathbone & McIndoe, Ft. Barry


Batteries Rathbone and McIndoe (essentially one battery) are similar in many ways to their Ft. Barry neighbors Batteries Smith and Guthrie. Both sites are late Endicott period projects that served through WW II – a ripe old age for coastal defenses. Both sites featured four emplacements mounting six-inch, rapid-fire guns on barbette carriages. Both sites were constructed around 1904 and operated as a single battery (Rathbone to the south and Guthrie to the north) until being split into paired two-gun batteries, reorganizations that occurred in the early 1920s. This was when McIndoe was added to Rathbone and Smith was added to Guthrie. Battery Rathbone lost a pair of guns during WW I but they were returned within a year.

Batteries Rathbone and McIndoe, Ft. Barry

The batteries as seen from the base of the clouds.

Batteries Rathbone McIndoe sit atop a south-facing ridgeline on the northern side of the Golden Gate Straight. At 350 feet above sea level they have a sweeping view of the straight and firing lines to its main and south approaches. The Thompson report does mention WW II era earthwork to widen the firing lines on the right flank.

Batteries Rathbone and McIndoe, Ft. Barry

Looking east toward Hawk Hill and the Golden Gate Bridge (hidden in the clouds).

These aerial photographs were taken during a midday visit as a fog was beginning to dissipate in the headlands. The bottom of the cloud stratus was sharply defined at about 150 – 200 feet above the batteries’ height. Lower wisps of fog would roll through periodically and occasionally touched the ground. Fog must have been an operational concern for the battery strategists for it is a common occurrence in the headlands.

Batteries Rathbone and McIndoe, Ft. Barry

The two center gun emplacements flanked by the Battery Commander’s Stations.

For my KAP activities the fog provided a fun diversion. I was flying the eight-foot Rokkaku that day in a variable breeze and the kite would disappear in the clouds for long stretches of time. It is a curious sight to view the kiteline stretched skyward with no visible means of support.

The image set contains ten or so stitched panoramas. Here is a set of images from the session that I have posted to Flickr:




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