I write articles for examiner.com and they call me San Francisco Hiking Examiner. I write primarily about regional hikes (here in the San Francisco Bay Area), but I plan to branch out to destinations we've enjoyed elsewhere on the west coast and also in South America, Africa, and western Europe.
Here's a sample:
After taking the ferry to Angel Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay (or sailed or motored over on your own), be sure to hike over to China Cove. As you may have read in my previous article, it's about a mile to the left of Ayala harbor, where you landed. You'll reach it by taking the Perimeter Road and then making a short detour downhill.
At China Cove you'll find the U.S. Immigration Station, which was used from 1910-1940 as detention center where certain nationalities (primarily Chinese) of people were held while awaiting permission to enter the United States. According to the Angel Island Association, the average detention was two to three weeks, but others were forced to remain up to two years.
According to authors Lai, Lim, and Yung, in their Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, "Angel Island was the point of entry for the majority of the approximately 175,000 Chinese immigrants who came to America between 1910 and 1940".
Perhaps not surprisingly, the treatment of different social classes of Asians coming to the U.S. differed -- those who had traveled 1st class often went directly to San Francisco. First class travelers who were detained on Angel Island were given small rooms and individual beds, while those who came by steerage were detained in cramped dorms with 3-tiers of bunks.
On our recent trip to the Immigration Station, we visited Room 105, an intriguing museum established in the old barracks building. The room is a re-creation of one of the dormitories where immigrants were housed. A docent handed us large plastic covered cards with descriptions of the displays in the room.
When you study the walls carefully and you will see Chinese characters carved into the white-painted wooden panels. It turns out that during their internment, residents used tools, that they had fashioned, to write poems and messages; more than 200 have been discovered. A poster lists the more common themes such as "daily life in detention," "homesickness," "resentment over treatment," and "encouragement and consolation for fellow detainees."
Admission to Room 105 is free and the room is open Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 3pm for self-guided tours. Guided tours will take you to additional major rooms of the Detention Barracks and are available by reservation.
After your visit to this excellent, but sobering, museum, you'll want to continue your 5-mile hike around Angel Island. That will be the topic of my next articles.
Causes Susan Alcorn Supports
Pacific Crest Trail Association, Bay Area Travel Writers, Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, American Red Cross, Alameda Food Bank