A trip up to the World War II military bunkers at the U.S.-Mexico border can be a bit daunting. The best way to get there is to hike along unmapped trails of the Tijuana River Valley. Ask a ranger at the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park for directions and then head toward Bunker Hill. You’ll see the bunkers in the distance. It’s also important to alert Border Patrol (when they come around) that you simply want to see the historic site.
Once you get there, the view is stunning. You’re right next to the U.S.-Mexico border wall and you can even take a peek at Boundary Monument #257 from the American side.
A Brief History
Bunker Hill took its name from the military installations constructed during WWII. These bunkers were part of the coastal defense system built in 1942 from La Jolla to the border to defend San Diego against a possible Japanese attack. No guns were placed in these bunkers. They were observation posts only, called Base End Stations, meant only to observe and report to Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma where the gun batteries were located.
Soldiers would enter the bunker from a top hatch and descend into the two-level station. Telescopes pointed out from the narrow viewing space on each level and a radio kept communication with other stations.
There’s Politics At The Border About Trails?
Residents and, in particular, the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association has pressed for the public to enjoy the wild riparian border area. Some of the best areas for hiking, horse back riding and mountain biking are along these mesas. While state and local politicians are enthusiastic about more trails, the federal government may be a little less willing to allow citizens up to the military bunkers.
In my experience, Border Patrol doesn’t mind allowing people to see the military bunkers. On a Saturday afternoon, I asked if I could drive my 78-year-old father up to the bunkers and, instead, a Border Patrol officer took us there in his SUV.
Within minutes, we were on top of the mesa enjoying the view. We were able to take a peek inside the two bunkers and walk over to the U.S.-Mexican border where we could see Boundary Monument #257.
Beyond the fence, Border Patrol explained that coyotes had set up tents and they were shuttling illegal immigrants over this wall and into the U.S every night.
Beyond Boundary Monument #257 a steep cliff once made this area rugged and dangerous. No border wall existed here because of the terrain. Instead, a border patrol car could usually be seen on the American side somewhere at the bottom of the cliff. Anyone wanting to get through the border at this point faced extreme dangers to their physical well-being.
Then in February 2015, without press coverage, a construction crew came along and turned the cliff into a smooth hill. The crew then erected more military landing mat as a barrier between the two countries. How much dirt did they use to get the job done? Which company did the construction work? Was it their usual contractor Kiewit or was it the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers? The Border Patrol’s public relations division wouldn’t respond to these questions or to my request to go out with them to see the work. Although construction seems to occur regularly along this stretch of border, the cost remains unknown and there seems not to be any documentation for it.
Secret Border Building
Construction at the border goes unreported for some reason. The cost, the reasons for construction, often remain a mystery. How much the contractors receive for the work is also not documented. All we have are these before, during and after photos: