It's a small island, only about a square mile in size. It's in a very strategic location, however, in the huge and important San Francisco Bay. Angel Island has a rich and colorful history that dates back hundreds of years. It's been a Coast Miwok Indian settlement, and was first described by a Spanish explorer in 1774, Fray Francisco Palou. It was part of a land grant by the Mexican government in 1834 that was later contested, and by the mid-1860's was a U.S. Army Infantry Station.
Inhabited at times by squatters, and at other times used as a location for pistol duels, it later became a U.S. quarantine and immigration station. The U.S. Army came back in 1940 after a fire at the immigration station resulted in that function being moved to San Francisco. The development of jet fighter planes late in World War II led to use of the island as an air defense base for Nike missiles. Finally, the U.S. Army vacated the base in the 1970's, and it eventually became what it is today - a California State Park.
In the 1900's it had a fire department - see the Angel Island Fire Department page under former FD's this week for more information and photos. We are hoping to collect much more. Thanks to contributors Greg Jennings and Ed Cunha for a good start on the Marin fire service history on this fascinating island.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Bill Lellis & Paul Smith