Archaeologists Discover And Explore Military Facility Located Beneath Alcatraz


Alcatraz was once known for being an inescapable prison. With the shark-infested waters that surrounded it, any attempted escape would end in a tragic death.

But there is more to the prison than meets the eye. It had a long history before it became the infamous prison it is known as today.

Military History

Alcatraz is also seeped in military history that very few know of today. But when the prison was built, many of the structures that once called the island their home were destroyed. Or were they?

A new study aims to prove that some of that history stayed behind, and thanks to a team of researchers, it has been brought to light recently.

A Study

In the study that was published, the researchers claimed that they used non-invasive technologies to get a better look at what was hidden beneath the ground the prison sits on.

What the researchers found not only left them stunned but also gave all of us an opportunity to look into the past.

Looking Into The Past

With their discovery, the research team proved that even though the construction of the prison destroyed a lot of the military structures that were there, they didn’t destroy everything.

Many of the structures that were once there remain buried and were relatively well-preserved, leaving much of the prison’s history intact.

A Bit Of History

Before the mid-1800, the island that is now home to Alcatraz was nothing more than a barren strip of land.

However, when the California gold rush began to stir, the government saw the island as a potential location for a military base. They wanted to use it to protect the growing city from foreign invasion.

Over The Years

They spent the next few decades building a fortress on the island. Then they rebuilt the structures in an earthen way to prevent erosion over time.

But over time, Alcatraz began falling behind. It simply couldn’t keep up with the rapid changes in artillery when the Civil war broke out. And that would ultimately be its downfall.

Civil War

During and after the Civil War, Alcatraz couldn’t maintain its defenses, and by the late 1920s, it was considered to be obsolete. 

The military troops that had roamed on the island abandoned it soon after, and that’s how the island became free for a prison to be built atop it.

Becoming A Prison

The prison that led to the island's fame was built in the early part of the 20th Century. By then, there were little to no remains of the structures that had previously been housed on the island. 

But the new evidence proves that the theory was wrong. Using ground-penetrating radar, the research team could see that there was still something buried beneath the surface.

Looking Beneath The Surface

Their equipment sent electromagnetic waves into the soil that returned information on the structures without them having to do any excavations.

This helped a great deal since they didn’t have to try to dig their way through a site that had become a tourist attraction. But what did they find?

They Saw Something

When the waves returned, the research team saw something they never expected to see. It looked like there were buildings or pieces of buildings beneath the prison.

They were stunned since no one had actually found any evidence to prove what several scientists had suspected. But it was right in front of them now.

Putting The Pieces Together

They sat down and mapped out the area they saw in the results. They wanted to figure out what still remained and what had been destroyed over time.

It was no easy feat, but eventually, they managed to paint themselves a little picture of what exactly it was that they were looking at.

What Was It?

What they had discovered was a vast area that still housed subterranean structures from the time the military had occupied the island. 

They even mentioned that there was something resembling a defensive trench buried beneath the prison’s former recreational area. But that wasn’t all. They also discovered what looked like an earth transverse.


After the discovery, Alcatraz historian and study author John Martini made a statement saying, “This really reinforces what several historians and archaeologists had long suspected.”

He also added that “up until this point, we had nothing to go on except for a few visible trace remains and maps—and a lot of suspicion.”

Archeological Investigations

Martini believes that it was unlikely for the military to destroy those structures. In his own words, he described that on a small island which is around 50 acres, “there’s only so many places you can build.”

And that was probably why they went so deep. It also explains why they’ve built the prison on top of those structures.

Filled With Mystery

With the result handed to them by the ground-penetrating radar, the research team’s plan is to continue the investigation into the island and its rich history. But only time can tell what else they will find hidden beneath the prison.

As Martini said, “Below the surface, Alcatraz is still full of mysteries. There’s still a whole lot to be learned.”