Santa Catalina Island has the unusual distinction of having Union Barracks dating back to the Civil War. They were built in 1864 and are located at the island’s isthmus, now called Two Harbors.
Lt. Col. James F. Curtis , in a scout report to his superiors, told of the two good harbors, available fresh water and the best weather in the southern part of the California coastline. The reason for the scouting of the island was smuggling. Southern California was full of Confederate sympathizers and the U.S. Army, Drum Barracks in San Pedro was concerned about Confederacy guns and gold being taken to the island and later picked up and taken to ships heading around the Horn to ports in the South.
In January 1864 eighty-three Union soldiers from Company C, 4th Regiment, California Voluntary Infantry occupied the barracks. In addition to the smuggling, it was thought that the soldiers were also trying to determine if the island would be a good place to relocate some American Natives from Northern California that were causing the Army problems. However, as 1864 was in its ninth month, the Confederacy was about to be defeated and native uprisings had settled down, the troops were withdrawn and returned to Drum Barracks. The barracks still stand as the island’s oldest structure and are now a yacht club.