Alcatraz, The Rock, so much more than the movie! This site is the location of the first Lighthouse on the west coast, the first US Fort on the west coast, a bird santuary. A whole village/town existed at one time. Children played here, went to school here. Some of the memories and history written about Alcatraz comes from these folks. It was considered good duty to live and work on the Island. Nothing of the town or private houses is left; though one can see where they were.
Sunny California it is NOT! Notice my heavy gray sweatshirt that I purchased at Big Sur in an effort to get warm. Many of us on the ferry are huddled up, back to the wind, ears covered trying to stay warm. Bring a jacket...and a scarf would have been nice to cover the ears. Ferries to and from Alcatraz run almost constantly. It is wise to purchase your tickets for the ferry ahead. There are day and evening tours, though the evening tours sell out first. Plan ahead!
Look how foggy it was. You can see The Golden Gate Bridge...but not well.
Looking back through the fog towards the sky line of San Francisco, bet it would be a pretty site if you were leaving for a night tour with all the lights.
We're approaching The Rock here, somehow it seemed even more mysterious through the fog. Wonder how it looked to those inmates as they approached?
Alcatraz is historic on many different levels. One is for 18 month of Indian occupation. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. In the 1800's American Indians were prisoners at the military prison at Alcatraz. Then in 1964, one year after the closing of The Pen and again in 1969 when they claimed it Indian Land.
Alcatraz was the first United States Fort on the West Coast, and was fully garrisoned in 1859. Civil War history is alive at Alcatraz.
Can you imagine living in a cell this small? Dark, dingy, one horrible open john-privy. Seeing the world through the iron gates. Hearing San Francisco. Some of the more famous inmates told how on New Years Eve, they could actually hear parties from their cells.
Probably the two most famous prisoners held here at Alcatraz were Alphonse "Scarface" Capone. He was in for tax evasion. He was an inmate from 1934-1939. And let's not forget George "Machine Gun" Kelly, he spent time for kidnapping from 1934-1951
A thick heavy door to one of the solitary cells. Only a small window where food could be passed in.
The American Flag was really flapping with the wind the day we were there.
*An interesting and very educational tour, I highly recommend it
**Families traveling with small children should look into The Jr. Ranger Program before they go.
***Wear good walking shoes, wear a hat (birds fly and drop constantly...seems someone is always getting hit, so a hat would at least protect your head).
****Watch were you're walking...smelly bird poo........everywhere. Another reason to wear tennis shoes and not open sandals.
*****Eat before you go, there are snacks, but very limited. Eating is only permitted on the dock.
*******Do obtain the audio tour, it's facinating. Very well done, voices, sound effects...you really do feel like you're there when those cell blocks were shut!
Much romance and speculation, were there any "successful" escapes?
Some say it depends on your definition of the word successful, however...here's the stats. There were 36 men who attempted escapes (2 of those 36 men tried twice...so 34 actual men). There were 14 different escape attempts. 23 men were caught, 6 shot and killed while trying to escape, 2 drowned.
And what of the 5? There are to this day, 5 prisoners on records who were officially listed as "missing and presumed drowned". Recording it that way, the officials I guess can still say, there were no successful escapes.......but, I wonder.