In 1864, the U.S. Army sent 83 soldiers to survey Santa Catalina Island as a proposed reservation for “militant” Native Americans. That plan was never completed, but the barracks they built remain as a monument to the Civil War, World War II, and even a little Hollywood magic.
After assessing the area between Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor, the Army decided the island was, indeed, a good location for the troubled Native Americans. They built the barracks but eventually abandoned the plan altogether. Native Americans were never held at Santa Catalina Island.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Hollywood film crews used the Barracks as housing while they transformed Santa Catalina Island into the South Pacific for movies like Mutiny on the Bounty and Old Ironside.
Decades after their first tour, the barracks were once again called on by the U.S. military. During World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard used the barracks as a training station for new recruits. Since 1951 the barracks have been managed by the Isthmus Yacht Club.