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The Bay Model Journey

The Bay Model is a three-dimensional hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay and Delta areas capable of simulating tides and currents. The Model is over 1.5 acres in size and represents an area from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento and Stockton, including: the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays and a portion of the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta.



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Journey through the watershed via the new “From the Mountains to the Sea” permanent exhibit at the San Francisco District’s Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito, California. Interpretive murals, interactive and tactile exhibits and a journey of discovery awaits you.

The exhibit’s subtitle is “Welcome to California’s largest watershed – a flowing world of change, challenge and choice.” Its highlight is the floor-to-ceiling murals depicting the San Francisco Watershed from the Cascade/Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean.

An interactive 3-D topographical map with fiber-optic lighting that graphically demonstrates the origin of California’s water. New interactive exhibits on the plants, animals and fish in the watershed allow self-discovery.

We also developed a new orientation program for the Bay Model Theater and a new 60-minute audio tour in four languages for self-guided tours of the Model.

Visitors will understand and appreciate the San Francisco-Bay Delta Estuary and the larger watershed of which it is a part. Learn to recognized the Corps’ roles in the Bay and the watershed and that the Bay Model is a Corps facility. EnjoyBay Model’s history, significance, and scientific achievements of this unique facility.


1942 1945 is an exhibit developed as a collaborative effort between the staff of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bay Model Visitor Center and the Sausalito Historical Society. MARINSHIP is located within the Bay Model Visitor Center, a building that served as the shipyard’s warehouse during the war.
MARINSHIP was built in 1942 to serve as the last assembly building for tankers, oilers, and liberty ships to be used during World War II. During this three-year time period Marinship produced 93 Liberty ships and T-2 tankers.

A Call to Arms
The United States went to war March 1941, three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. An urgent telegram from the U.S. Maritime Commission arrived at the offices of W. A. Bechtel Company, urging them to build and operate a new shipyard in the San Francisco Bay Area. The telegram emphasized, "The emergency demands all within your power to give your country ships." The next day, Kenneth K. Bechtel stood on a quiet Sausalito hillside and looked over the mudflats of Richardson Bay. This would be the site chosen for the shipyard to be called Marinship.

California Here I Come ...
Recruiters fanned out across the country in search of men and women willing to leave their lives behind and come to California to build the ships so desperately needed to win the war. The impact of this migration on California would be as great as the Gold Rush a century earlier.

Winning the War on the Homefront
Less than three months after the initial ground breaking, the keel was laid for the first Liberty ship, the WILLIAM A. RICHARDSON, while the rest of the shipyard was being built. During the next three and one-half years, 75,000 Americans poured into southern Marin County from all over the United States. They built 93 ships -- 15 Liberty cargo ships and 78 tankers and oilers -- in record time. Marinship workers produced a completed vessel an average of every 13 days. One tanker, the S.S. HUNTINGTON HILLS, was built in just 33 days -- nearly twice as fast as any comparable tanker of the day.

Around-the-Clock Shipyard
Marinship was operated seven days a week around the clock. At the peak of production 20,000 men and women passed through the yard's gates every day, working on three shifts. Everyone worked a minimum of six days a week. The rigors of shift work turned the lives of workers upside down. Management stepped in to provide support in various areas such as housing, transportation and food. The housing shortage was so severe that the Maritime Commission and the Federal Housing Authority built Marin City -- a community of houses, apartments and dormitories just north of the shipyard. Within a year, it became the second largest city in Marin County.

New Opportunities for Minorities

Because Marinship was one of the last shipyards to be built, there was an acute shortage of experienced shipbuilders and skilled labor. For the first time, minorities were aggressively recruited and trained for these jobs. Eventually, the workforce would be comprised of 25% women and 10% blacks. Marinship management was challenged by these new patterns in labor, gender and ethnic relations.

A Supersized Assembly Line
Ships were built on a gigantic assemble line. Raw steel was delivered to the north end of the yard and traveled south. From the Plate Shop, Sub-Assembly Shop and open-air skids came the great pre-assemblies. At each step, ship parts were combined and recombined into larger and larger ship sections. Finally, mammoth traveling cranes lifted these huge sections onto the hull where they were firmly welded together. With great celebration, each ship was launched and then towed to the Outfitting Docks for the finishing touches.

Marinship Vessels Circumnavigate the Globe
Carrying men and material, Marinship's Liberty ships provided a crucial link between the United States and its allies. Marinship's tankers traversed the seas transporting oil, gasoline and water to the troops fighting the enemy forces in Europe and the Pacific. These tankers and oilers also served as floating gas stations refueling the ships at sea. Victory! Peace in Europe was declared on May 7, 1945. In the Pacific, eight Marinship tankers, including the yard's flagship, the USS TAMALPAIS, were among the American fleet gathered in Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945.

Marinship Closes
By November of 1945, only 600 employees remained at the huge shipyard where 20,000 had worked just two years earlier. In 1946, Marinship was turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps needed only a few of the buildings -- including the warehouse that now houses the Bay Model and the Marinship exhibit. The balance of the land was sold and has been developed for a variety of commercial and public uses over the years.

“A happy mixture of trees and prairie exhibiting one of the most beautiful and picturesque scenes that I ever beheld.” Meriwether Lewis

An Army Legacy: The Lewis and Clark Expedition
To celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark exploration the Bay Model Visitor Center has on display a discovery box of items used during the Lewis and Clark exhibition, posters, video, and informational packets and books.

The discovery box contains a variety of items that capture the time period of Lewis and Clark. Look at the different forms of clothing: a uniform coat, infantry hat, haversack, furs, leather, and military uniform prints; military directives: a black journal, ink stand, powdered ink, a flag, peace medals, and beads; scientific objects: compass, sextant, maps; and many other miscellaneous items: a grizzly bear paw print, medicine bottle, etc.

Come watch our interesting video of Lewis and Clark the Eastern Legacy Down the Ohio to the Western Wilderness that plays throughout the day.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 linked the Atlantic seaboard with the West. This purchase aroused many questions for Thomas Jefferson. What were the unknown landscapes, animals, and people of this newly acquired territory like? Jefferson decided to turn to the Army to find the answers to these uprising questions.

This military operation was assigned the title of the Corps of Discovery to lead the first exploration of the Pacific Northwest. The Army called forth Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark to lead the expedition. This assignment would be the most important exploration of North America in history.

On May 14, 1804 a group of 45 members consisting of soldiers and civilians left Camp Wood to begin their journey on the Missouri River. Over the vast territory of 4,000 miles these explorers captured the spirit of the Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, self service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. The group made their final destination in November 1805, they had reached the Pacific Ocean. They returned to St. Louis on September 23, 1806 to report their discoveries.
Over the time span of two and a half years the group had details of the unknown lands. Lewis provided the scientific aspect of the expedition while Clark was responsible for the engineering and the geography. Lewis and Clark provided details of the landscape of over 4,000 miles, maps to pinpoint landmarks and river, information of over 50 Native American tribes, hundreds of plant and animal identifications with specific botanical and biological reports.

Because of the success of the Corps of Discovery the Army was placed in the key role of the explorations and settlements of the West. The West was open to the world for further expositions to occur of other Army men: such as Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, and Captain Benjamin Louis Eulalie Bonneville.

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike began his exploration of the northern part of the Mississippi River. Following that expedition he was one of the first, besides the Native Americans, to see the Kansas plains. From there he continued towards Colorado where he renamed the Rocky Mountains’ “Grand Peak” to his own name Pike’s Peak. Over Pike’s two expeditions he traveled over 1,000 miles.

Captain Benjamin Louis Eulalie Bonneville explored for the War Department to gather information about topography, geology, and geography of the west. He planned on a two year expedition which turned into five. With his partner Joseph Rutherford Walker, the two men walked into Yosemite. They traveled the Great Salt Lake and traveled as far south as Monterey, Mexico. While returning they found Walker Pass, a route through the southern Sierras, which became a popular trail for emigrants to enter California.

Probably the other most important leader of an exploration of the west, besides the initial exhibition of Lewis and Clark, was lead by John C. Fremont. Fremont was in fact a Lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, a precursor to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Fremont led three explorations during the early part of the 1840s, which changed the vague nation of ‘Manifest Destiny’ into a reality of continental empire. His men were not the typical army men, but were mountain men and beaver trappers. Fremont was the adventurer, the publicist, and the engineer who seized the aspirations of his times. Once finished with his three expeditions the Fremont-Preuss map of 1848 was completed. For the first time in history a map displayed in actuality and practicality the lands that the westering sons of original Atlantic colonies reached out for.

Some explorers were not sent by the Army, but they decided to discover the rich land of the west for themselves. Jedediah Smith was a Bible carrying mountain man who explored his whole life. In 1826 he is remembered for being the first white man to admire the lush landscapes of the Rocky Mountains to California. He crossed the Great Basin, traveling through the Sierra Nevada from west to east, and the southern part of California moving overland to the Pacific Northwest. He recorded in a journal his discoveries along with maps, yet these were lost many years ago.

Many others continued to explore the West after the first exploration of Lewis and Clark. The lands beckoned the bold, the timid, the pragmatist, and the dreamer as it continues to do so today.

Hours, Directions, Fees and Policies

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Free Admission

Spring Hours
Tuesday - Saturdays 9am - 4pm
Closed Sundays & Mondays

Summer Hours start May 27
Tuesday - Friday 9am - 4pm
Saturday - Sundays 10am - 5pm
Closed Mondays

Memorial Day Weekend
Saturday, May 24 10am - 5pm
Sunday, May 25 10am - 5pm

Closed Memorial Day
Monday, May 26

Open Memorial Day & Labor Day
Closed July 4th

Always call ahead to confirm Holiday hours.
(415) 332-3871




Fees, Costs and Rates
There are no admission or parking fees for the Bay Model. Some special events, classes and workshops have fees that are indicated. Donations are accepted. Donations given will help support our programs and educational opportunities for the community.

Visitor areas of the Bay Model are wheelchair accessible.

Food and Drink
The Bay Model Visitor Center has water fountains/soda vending machines but no food available for sale. There are picnic tables on the waterfront if you desire to bring your own lunch. There are also several restaurants, a convenience store and a supermarket within 15 minutes walking distance of the Model. There are more than 30 restaurants in Sausalito.