You never know what you’ll find on the beach, especially after a storm, but a WWII-era bunker probably wasn’t your first guess. The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that a “WWII military structure undermined when saturated bluff sand slid onto the beach,” at SF’s Fort Funston.
The NPS worked with the SF Fire Department to secure the area and have encouraged visitors to “follow postal trailhead signs and be attentive to surroundings,” according to a recent tweet. Concrete debris from the park’s military past is a fairly common sight along the beach but yesterday’s fall is one of the largest in recent memory.
Before the Tumble
A pre-fall shot of the bunker from beach-level.
A pre-fall view of the concrete structure from atop the cliffs
Fort Funston, located in SF’s southwestern corner, is a former military base turned public recreation area. The area is known for its dramatic cliffs, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, and extensive network of hiking trails. The tall cliffs also make it a popular destination for hang gliders, who be seen launching from the steep cliffs when the conditions are right.
The military history of Fort Funston dates back to the late 1800s when the area resembled little more than a “rustic frontier outpost,” according to a Chronicle report at the time. During the Cold War, Fort Funston became a crucial part of our coastal defense strategy, growing significantly, housing 16-inch guns, and nuclear NIKE missiles from the 1950s until the fort’s closure in 1963. A total of 12 NIKE missile sites were located across the Bay Area for the purpose of defending against potential Soviet airstrikes. For anyone interested, the Marin Headlands site has been preserved and offers daily tours of the area, including the underground missile bunker.