Magazine article Sunset

Vallejo's Mare Island: Take a Peek Inside a Former Top-Secret Navy Shipyard. (Day Trip)

Magazine article Sunset

Vallejo's Mare Island: Take a Peek Inside a Former Top-Secret Navy Shipyard. (Day Trip)

Article excerpt

It took 13 years to build Drydock 1 on Mare Island, Vallejo's former Navy shipyard. Back in the 1870s, when the project began, the 480-foot-long pit was dug with shovels, picks, burros, and a whole lot of muscle.

Now the former military site is open for guided tours. For the first time, you can cross the blue bridge onto the island and gaze down the dry dock's Sierra granite steps, where hundreds of ships were built or repaired over the past century.

You'll be gazing into the layered history of this island.

Opened in 1854, Mare Island was the first military shipyard on the West Coast. Before it closed in 1996, 513 ships were built here, from the side-wheeler USS Saginaw to the nuclear submarine USS Drum.

Tour stops include Alden Park, where a medley of monuments provides snapshots of American military history: There's a cannon from the War of 1812, spar torpedoes from the Civil War, and a German Marder suicide submarine from 1944.

A visit to the island also offers a window into the region's cultural history. Drop by St. Peter's Chapel, built in 1901, to see its Tiffany windows and inverted-keel redwood ceiling. …

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