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If you attended the Living History Days in previous years, there have been some additions, deletions and changes, so please review this document carefully.

The National Park Service and Friends of Civil War Alcatraz are delighted to be hosting the Civil War Living History Day on Alcatraz Island.

Activities on the island begin with the arrival of the first boat on the island and continue throughout the day until 4 pm. All activities are free and are designed to give the visitor a sense of what life was like on Alcatraz when it was an important seacoast defensive fort during the American Civil War. These activities include:
1) Music of the Civil War period played by the 3rd U.S. Artillery Band;
2) Periodic tours of Fort Alcatraz, showing the remnants of the fort, its history and its role in California’s contribution to the Union cause;
3) Military drills, as would have been done by Union troops on the island;
4) Union recruitment - find out what the requirements were to enlist in the Union Army
5) Prisoners under guard - see how Alcatraz soon became a prison not only for disorderly soldiers but also for Confederate sympathizers
6) Women’s roles - see how women applied their skills in sewing, weaving, medicine, laundry and cooking to support the Union troops


We will have coffee, doughnuts, etc. on the island in the morning and LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED.

We will be using the break room outside the staff offices inside Building 64 (formerly the movie theater). We will avoid going into the staff offices, except for the NPS volunteers, and for ladies using the staff rest room.

The purpose of the Alcatraz Living History Day is to enhance the experience of visitors to the National Park. It is hoped that the living history program will augment the visitor’s understanding and awareness of the many layers of history present on the island. The story of the Post on Alcatraces Island, as it was officially known, is largely untold. As a participant in the Living History Day, you will be tasked with the telling of this story from a very human perspective. The National Park Service is commemorating the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. In keeping with these programs, we are beginning to gear up living history on the island. Military impressions must be that of a unit stationed on the island during the War Between the States. Other impressions must be connected to the island. See IMPRESSIONS AND SCENARIOS under “Events” on this web site for more information.

Expect to interact with 4,000 visitors. Let people know about your uniform, your equipment, your rifle, and what it is like to be stationed at Alcatraz (monotonous, isolated, and cold).

Break Room

We will be using the staff break room inside Building 64 - the large building at the dock. Ask any staff member for the code to go inside. Ladies may take advantage of the staff toilet near the break room.


PARKING WILL ONCE AGAIN BE AVAILABLE AT FT. MASON. Participants will be able to utilize the NPS shuttle. Priority will be given to individuals with weapons on the first shuttle(s). Note: Parking is in the lower parking lot - see map.

Arrival at Ft. Mason should be by 7:15 am, with vans leaving at 7:30 am.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION Boarding the Ferry Alcatraz Cruises (ferry) runs on a very tight schedule. Because of this, every participant must be able to carry what they are bringing to the island onto the ferry in ONE LOAD. If you have a lot of stuff, please bring a cart, or like device to move your items.

Weapons Inspection Weapons inspection will take place on the Alcatraz Cruises Dock AT 8 am. Your weapon will NOT be allowed on the island if the 8 am inspection is missed. Per law enforcement, there will be NO EXCEPTIONS. NO POWDER, NO CAPS.

Simplified Registration




Weather on Alcatraz can be relatively warm and sunny, cold and windy, overcast or foggy. All of the above in a single day is common. Layers work best. Bring authentic or concealable modern long underwear. A greatcoat and gloves are also recommended. If you have a rain proof (poncho), bring it along as well. A canteen is also a very good idea, because the location of your presentation might be 150 yards or more from a water source. It’s one of those, “If you don’t bring it, you’ll likely need it” things. RAIN: Rain is always a possibility. In the event of rain, the Theater located inside the Civil War era Bombproof Barracks, will be made available for two or three presentations to take place. We developed several other rain sites earlier this year as well, but ultimately, IF we receive some showers, it will require some punting on the part of participants.



Friends and Family not participating in the living history day must obtain a ticket from Alcatraz Cruises (see WEBSITES on page 4, below). Tickets should be purchased well in advance.



PARKING AT FT. MASON Participants who plan to utilize the NPS Shuttle may park in the lower (“Bldg. 101”) parking lot. Shuttle pick-up will be in front of Park Headquarters (Bldg. 201). Rangers or FOCWA volunteers will be in front of the GGNRA Building to issue Parking Passes. PARKING PASSES ARE A MUST. A parking citation will cost you $75.00.


PARKING NEAR THE ALCATRAZ CRUISES DOCK: 1) Parking in the vicinity of the Alcatraz Cruises Dock costs on the average 20 dollars for the day); 2) DO NOT utilize a parking space with a parking meter. They have limited hours; 3) All day parking can be found at 55 Francisco Garage for $20 (https://www.parkme.com/lot/84305/55-francisco-street-parking-garage-san-francisco-ca)  4) If you have a bunch of stuff to unload and transport to the island, contact one of the event coordinators, Steve Johnson 650-355-7173 or Gary Hormel 925-918-2959.

The RED DOTS on the Map, above, indicate the location for parking lots and garages near the Alcatraz Cruises Dock.

Directions to the Alcatraz Cruises Dock (Hornblower, Pier 33) Driving from the South To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the south, take Highway 101 North and follow the signs towards the Bay Bridge. Take the 4th Street exit, then turn left onto Bryant Street. Follow Bryant St. to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto The Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles to the Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.

Driving from the North To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the north, take Highway 101 South across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the Marina exit onto Marina Blvd. Follow Marina Blvd. to Bay Street. Turn left onto Bay Street and stay on Bay all the way to The Embarcadero. Turn right onto Embarcadero, stay in the left lane and make a U-turn at the light.

Driving from the East To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the east, cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. Take the Fremont Street exit, and turn left onto Fremont. Follow Fremont St. to Howard, and then turn right on Howard Street. Follow Howard to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto the Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles to the Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.

THINGS TO KNOW – IMPORTANT! No Parking on the Alcatraz Cruises Dock

Parking will be available either at Fort Mason or on Pier 33; this still has to be determined and look for more information here at the beginning of July.

There is very limited parking on the dock. All of the spaces are allocated by the National Park Service. Those participants with large loads may be given a parking space on the dock. Please don’t count on it. Any participant who needs one of these spaces must receive approval well in advance. How well in advance? If you’re reading this, now is the time to call the event coordinator. You may drop off people and/or equipment at the dock before parking elsewhere.

Boarding the Ferry

Boat departure for Alcatraz: Departure time has been changed to 8:20 am

Alcatraz Living History Day will conclude at 4:00 pm.  We will depart Alcatraz on the 4:15 pm boat.  If you don’t require transportation back to Ft. Mason, you may take a later boat.

Maritime Law now requires that everyone boarding the ferry present a valid I.D. (California Drivers License, etc.)


Weapons Inspection

Prior to boarding the ferry, weapons, cartridge boxes, cap pouches, etc. will be inspected by a NPS Law Enforcement Ranger and FOCWA safety officer, pursuant to Maritime Law. If you are bringing a weapon (including swords), you must be on the Alcatraz Cruises Dock available for inspection not later than 8 am on the morning of the event. Per law enforcement, there will be NO EXCEPTIONS made for late arrivals. OTHER INSPECTIONS Please arrive at the Alcatraz Cruises Dock NOT LATER THAN 8 am. Maritime Law (post 9-11) also requires inspection of other items such as boxes being taken on board the Alcatraz Ferry.

NPS Volunteers

You will be asked to officially sign on as National Park Service Volunteers. No commitment other than this day on the island is implied. As a NPS Volunteer, there is no charge for transport to or from Alcatraz Island.



Steve Johnson, Co-chairman, FOCWA: 650-420-9755, email parksvolunteer425@gmail.com

National Park Service, Alcatraz: 415-561-4900 (after 9:00 am)
Alcatraz Cruises: 415-981-7625



•                      Arrive Early

•                      Register Early for the event. If something happens and you can’t make it, please let us know ASAP in case there are people on the waiting list.



Friends of Civil War Alcatraz: www.friendsofcivilwaralcatraz.org National Park Service, Alcatraz: www.nps.gov/alcatraz Fortress Alcatraz: www.fortressalcatraz.com This is John Martini’s web site. John is the historical consultant for Friends of Civil War Alcatraz. He was the National Park Service Historian for the island for many years and has written two books on the military history of the island. California Military Museum: www.militarymuseum.org Good histories about the units stationed on Alcatraz as well as some information on the island itself. Alcatraz Cruises (Hornblower Ferry): http://www.alcatrazcruises.com Purchase tickets to Alcatraz



We have made registration easier. Notify John Nevins (Event Coordinator), or Steve Johnson, Co-chairman, FOCWA: 650-420-9755 that you will be participating by email or telephone (CONTACT INFORMATION is below) Be sure to include:

•                      Your Name

•                      Best Telephone Number to Contact You

•                      Email Address

•                      Name of Emergency Contact

•                      Best Telephone Number for Emergency Contact

•                      The impression you plan on portraying



Steve Johnson, Co-chairman, FOCWA: 650-420-9755, email parksvolunteer425@gmail.com


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