Marin County Points of Interest
Fort Baker, Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite are collectively listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Historic District #73000255. Fort Cronkhite, named on 17 December 1938 and commissioned to support Battery Townsley, is the newest of the three.
All three forts are included in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and are accessible to the public.
To obtain the land for Battery Townsley, the federal government condemned eight hundred acres of dairy farm north of Rodeo Lagoon. The battery was built on the rim of Wolf Ridge to house two sixteen-inch guns with a range or twenty-six miles. Fort Funston, south of the Golden Gate, supported two identical guns. At the time, sixteen-inch guns were the largest in the Unites States arsenal.
On 1 July 1940, Battery Townsley fired its inaugural round, the first time a shell that large had been fired from the Pacific Coast of the United States.
The Fort Cronkhite cantonment beside Rodeo Lagoon is composed of typical World War II woodframe army structures, built quickly and intended to be temporary. The buildings were completed in the early summer of 1941 when Battery E of the 6th Coast Artillery was garrisoned here. Before the end of the year, the Japanese Imperial Air Force had bombed Pearl Harbor. Battery Townsley was on twenty-four hour alert. San Franciscans could easily imagine a Yamato-class battleship with 18-inch guns materializing in the Pacific fog.