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Station San Francisco

Unit History


U.S. Coast Guard Station San Francisco is currently housed on Yerba Buena Island. Yerba Buena is Spanish for Good Herb named by Captain Fredrick W. Beechey 1826 due to the invasive California mint that was abundant all over the island. In 1836 Captain Gorham Nye brought goats to the island for sale to trading vessels. The name “Goat Island” begins to be used unofficially. (Using the goat as a source of food was highly frowned upon, ironically the goats played as a major food source on the island in later years.)

In 1872, a section of the island was established as an official base for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Construction of a lighthouse (Admiral's Light) began in 1873 and was completed in 1875 with its official lighting. In 1958, the lighthouse was automated which continues to stand a vigilant watch to this day. Prior to the 1873 construction, a bell was used in place of the light and audible fog signal.

In the Late 1800s, the tale is told that Barnacle Bill anchored at Yerba Buena Island in search for buried treasure. Unfortunately finding nothing but goats, ruins of old Indian villages and bones of lost sailors.

Congress passed an act transferring the entire island to the Navy Department in 1896, with the exception of the 29.2 acres occupied by the U.S. Lighthouse Service. In 1910 Congress appropriated funds for the establishment of a Naval Training Station. 13,000 men were trained on the island at one time.

In 1958 The Admiral’s lighthouse became automated, during this time, the U.S. Lighthouse Service also maintained west coast light ships at the depot. This was the result of moving the original depot from Mare Island in the North Bay. The light ships stood watch along the coast, at dangerous points where it was impractical to build lighthouses.

In 1933, a tunnel was bored through the island to complete the building of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. With this construction came opportunity, expansion, and a new mode of transportation to the island. The project was completed in 1936, which was the same time Treasure Island was in the early stages of development. Treasure Island was constructed by mud dredged out of the North Bay and transported from Sacramento. Treasure Island is connected to Yerba Buena Island's north shore by way of an isthmus. The original use was for an airport, but instead a host to the 1939 World's Fair. With the start of World War II, the island was turned over to the U.S. Navy until 1993.

Along with all of this development, in 1939 The U.S. Lighthouse Service was formally incorporated into the U.S. Coast Guard. This merge also brought the possession and control of the current property, which has since housed a search and rescue and law enforcement unit, currently known as Coast Guard Station San Francisco. Thirty one years later, in 1970, Coast Guard Group San Francisco administration and housing complex was built and currently stands.

Reconstruction of the Eastern span of the Bay Bridge has taken place over the past 12 year. Construction began in 2001 and was completed September 2013.

Last Modified 1/12/2016