Army's primary depot for Pacific operation
First garrisoned by U.S. Army troops during the Civil War, Fort Mason later played a key role in the emergence of the United States as an international power. Throughout the 1800s, the young country's military resources were focused on subduing Native Americans and supporting the nation's expansion across the continent. Beginning with the Spanish-American War in 1898, the focus shifted overseas. Between 1909 and 1914, the army developed Fort Mason to support U.S. interests in the Pacific.
Fully operational by 1915, and known as the San Francisco Port of Embarkation since 1932, the Fort Mason depot operated until 1962. In the 1970s, the long-vacant buildings were rehabilitated and today look much as they did when they were first constructed.
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Pacific locations to which troops and supplies were shipped from the Port of Embarkation:
Hawaii · Guam · Philippines · Alaska · Aleutian Islands · China · Panama Canal · Guadalcanal · Japan · Korea.
During World War II, the San Francisco Port of Embarkation experienced explosive growth. The numbers only begin to tell the story.
Employed 831 people
Shipped 48,000 tons of cargo
By the end of the war in 1948
Employed more than 30,000 people
Shipped 23.6 million tons of cargo and 1.65 million soldiers.
Look about today and you'll see remnants of the historic train tracks seen in this photo.
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On U.S. Army posts around the world, the Quartermaster Corps once managed living quarters, supplies, and transportation, among other duties. The quartermaster insignia symbolizes these responsibilities:
· eagle represents the nation
· sword signifies the military forces
· key signifies the Corps' storekeeping function
· wheel (styled after a six-mule-wagon wheel) represents transportation
· wheel's thirteen spokes and stars represents the original thirteen colonies and the Corp's origin during the Revolutionary War.
Look for the Quartermaster insignia on Fort Mason's historic pier buildings.
As the army's role extended abroad, military planners turned to local influences for the new depot facility. They looked to the southwest's Spanish Colonial missions for inspiration and chose Mission Revival-style architecture for Fort Mason's warehouses. Eventually the Mission revival style would be so closely associated with the West Coast military architecture that red-tiled roofs and unadorned white walls would indicate military presence.