CIVR Blog: Catalina Island secrets

Catalina Island played a strategic role during World War II

Catalina Island played a strategic role during World War II

Catalina Island abounds with secrets. Secret spots , secret history and secret stories. In our latest series of blog posts, we’ll share some of our favorite Catalina Island secrets.

Catalina Island played a pivotal role in World War II and much of that history can still be found scattered around this Southern California Channel Island. A wide variety of personnel trained and prepared on Santa Catalina, including Merchant Marines, Army soldiers and frogmen from the Office of Strategic Services, which would become the Central Intelligence Agency.

With its strategic location off the California coast, Catalina Island served as a prime spot for surveillance and gunnery emplacements were established on several key promontories. For several years, these emplacements were manned with soldiers who spent countless lonely hours watching the Pacific for a Japanese naval incursion and the skies for an attack by air.

While the heavy guns and soldiers are long-gone, the emplacements remain, concrete bunkers that stand in mute testament to the greatest generation. The most accessible of the bunkers is far off Catalina Island’s beaten path, but intrepid hikers will discover this secret spot on the promontory between Cottonwood Cove and Ben Weston Beach. The two large underground bunkers occupy prime real estate, with the windswept cliff commanding endless views of the Pacific.

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