SAN FRANCISCO — Archaeologists confirmed a long-time suspicion of historians and say that famed Alcatraz prison was built over a Civil War-era military fortification.
Researchers found a series of buildings and tunnels under the prison yard of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, which once held Al Capone, SFGate reported Tuesday.
A study published last week in “Near Surface Geophysics” said archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar and terrestrial laser scans and historical maps and photographs. They found fully buried structures, ammunition magazines and tunnels.
“This really changes the picture of things,” study author Timothy de Smet, an archaeologist at Binghampton University, told PBS. “They weren’t erased from the island — they are right beneath your feet.”
Archaeologists are now planning more study to discover what else lies just below the surface.
Historians believe workers built over existing structures when the prison was built in the 20th century.
Alcatraz first came to the attention of the U.S. government after it took control of California from Mexico in the 1840s. Its location in San Francisco Bay made it attractive for military fortification purposes.
During the Civil War, Fort Alcatraz was the official military prison for the West Coast.
In the 1930s, the first federal prisoners — deemed by the media to be the worst of the worst — began arriving. The last inmate left in 1963.
The citadel on Alcatraz was crucial to defense during the American Civil War (1861–1865), having some 111 cannons encircling the island at peak, and was also used as a war camp. During the Civil War, the defense establishment at Alcatraz Citadel had the onerous task to defuse the possibility of any local war between the Union and Confederate supporters who were both part of the population of California, and to protect San Francisco.
This gives the phrase, “Throw him under the jail.” a new meaning.
The official story doesn’t sit right with me. Was there really a possibilty of a war breaking out amongst Union supporters and Confederate supporters? I mean, how long did it take to get news about the war all the way to California? And how was a military installation on an island off of the coast supposed to stop a skirmish? And didn’t they have bigger problems at the time? Great Flood of 1862
We’ve seen plenty of evidence that The Civil War is not what we have been told. It could have been a war between Natives and invaders. It may not even have happened at all. It could just be a cover story to explain catastrophes that wiped out populations and left ruins of cities.
They just keep finding tunnels buried everywhere.