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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

THE ROCK, Alcatraz Island, California

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.

Alcatraz Ferry
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!

foggy Golden Gate Bridge
Look how foggy it was. You can see The Golden Gate Bridge...but not well.

San Francisco from the water
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.

Alcatraz in fog
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 sign
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.

canon
Alcatraz was the first United States Fort on the West Coast, and was fully garrisoned in 1859. Civil War history is alive at Alcatraz.

Alcatraz cell
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.

famous Alcatraz inmates
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

solitary cell at Alcatraz
A thick heavy door to one of the solitary cells. Only a small window where food could be passed in.

US Flag
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!




Escapes:
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.
34-23-6=5

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.

15 comments:

  1. interesting tour...thanks!

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  2. wow great post. Would love to have a walk round there if I was ever lucky enough to be over that way :)

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  3. Wow, the fog does make it eerie, as it should be. I don't think it'd be as interesting in sunlight. Looks like a good trip to learn some facts and show the kids where NOT to end up.

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  4. I've always wanted to visit there, but so far it hasn't happened thanks for sharing your photos and knowledge.

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  5. You certainly captured the essence of the rock. Great shots too. Sometimes the entire bridge is shrouded in fog but it's still beautiful. Great post.

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  6. "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco..." Mark Twain.

    And it's true!!! It has a micro-climate all of its own. If those five could swim well, they had a fair chance of getting to shore...I suppose if they knew the direction of the tide.

    Thanks for the memories. I took that tour many years ago and it is extremely interesting.

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  7. I'ld like to take the night tour and came back on the ferry to see the lights of San Francisco; plus bet it's really a different experience being on The Rock at night!

    Ern
    cool pictures

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  8. I got to make a delivery to what is left of the military base at the Presidio a couple of times, and they told me that Alcatraz was out there in the bay, but it was always too foggy for me to get a good look at it. Of course, actually visiting the island, like you did, would have been way cooler.

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  9. While people may have different views still good things should always be appreciated. Yours is a nice blog. Liked it!!!

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  10. that is fascinating. i love stuff like this. thanks for all the great pictures with the story.

    By way on checking my Entrecard stats it seems you are one of my Drop Stars! Thank you!

    You can find out more about it below. If you want to be added to the Drop Stars blogroll all you need to do is grab the badge and let me know so i can add you :)

    http://www.mummydiariesblog.com/2008/05/drop-stars.html

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  11. I just commented, but can't find my comment.

    I DO love the way you can connect to different things from your blog....

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  12. I've always wanted to visit alcatraz, thanks for sharing!

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  13. Thanks for sharing about the Alcatraz. I love this island much since the day I know about Alcatraz, I don't know the reason....
    Indeed, very nice captures!

    About the escape, maybe need to consult Micheal Scofield.....:)

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  14. Thanks for the very cool facts that you shared about Alcatraz. Can't believe Al Capone was in only for tax evasion. :D
    One of the prisoners who was able to escape was Michael Scofield. I just know it. Hahaha!

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  15. Nice post about an island. I & my two other friends are also planning a tour to a island before that i have visited almost all famous sights.Most of time i get the accommodation in a hostel from Hank Freid in affordable price

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