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The History of Alcatraz "The Rock"

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The story of Alcatraz starts in 1775 with the discovery by Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala who called the 22-acre island “La Isla de los Alcatraces” which means “Island of Pelicans”. President Millard Fillmore in 1850 reserved the island for the Army. With the advent of the Gold Rush and increased growth in the area both a lighthouse and the 100 cannon Fort Alcatraz was built.  Like many forts in the U.S., the island never came under attack or needed to defend the area. In the 1860’s the island became a prison for treason under the Civil War and hosted 300 people with room for 500 for over a 100 years. A 1906 earthquake brought more prisoners who were commissioned to build a prison.  The prison became the Pacific Branch, U.S. Military Prison, Alcatraz Island where discipline to military members was the common call of the day. It also trained them in vocational and military skills. This was the time Alcatraz was known as “The Rock”. As a minimum-security prison, it