In the year 1864, the US army sent about eighty-three soldiers to survey Santa Catalina Island as a reserve for the “militant” Native Americans. The plan was later aborted, but the military barracks built in the island remain as a monument to the Civil War and World War II.
The US army decided the island was a good place for the rebel Native Americans, after assessing the land between Catalina harbor and Isthmus Cove. The army built the barracks, but later abandoned the plan, and the rebels were never held at Santa Catalina Island. However, decades after, the US Coast Guard used the barracks to train new recruits during the Second World War.
Since 1951, the barracks are managed by the Isthmus Yacht Club. If you want to visit the Civil War barracks in person, you will need to get on to the Catalina Express and get to Two Harbors. The barrack is now a private property that is leased by the Isthmus Yacht Club, but you can still learn a lot about the history of the place by just walking around.
There are many pieces of evidence showing that Native Americans have lived in Catalina Island. Urns that were dug up from the eastern parts of the island are proof that Native American lived there. It is possible that an event triggered them to abandon the island or they may have migrated eventually. There are not many pieces of evidence to prove these claims though.
Geologist Dr. Cooper surveyed the island for the first time in 1863 and reported metamorphic rock composition, leading to the establishment of mines across the island. The first mine was established in Catalina, West of the Isthmus, in 1863. Most of these miners were forced out of the island during the Union occupation. You can still spot the Cherry Valley mine right along the side of the road, but it is not safe to enter it.
The Civil War barracks and the mines are places worth exploring in Catalina Island, especially if you are interested to explore the history of the island. If you are planning to visit Catalina Island this fall, make sure you book your room at Hotel Metropole in advance, as the island hosts many amazing events during this time of the year, and you won’t want to miss out on any.