Besides the fowl for the larder, there are many other birds about
the marshes. In summer redwinged blackbirds, each with its scarlet
shoulder-patch, may frequently be seen, while the herons with their
long, ungainly legs are often visible wading in the pools, or standing
on some lonely reef, like solitary sentinels.
In the winter, great flocks of little sandpipers frequent this region;
their white breasts gleaming in the sun in the course of their graceful
evolutions. Then there are the slender beaked curlews which, like the
heron, wade about the pools in search of food.
In the fall and winter the salt-water marshes have a peculiar charm not
only for the sportsmen who delight in the abounding bird-life, but for
the humble excursionists who, gunless, admire the marvelous diversity
of coloring displayed in the grotesquely shaped marshland.
For no other weed, grass or vine assumes a greater variety of tints
than the marsh vegetation, which from the dull russet of summer changes
to a combination of olive, purple, magenta, copper, and violet, so
harmoniously blended that, besides charming the observer, it lures many
a local artist from his studio in town.
In Marin the feathered songsters hold a unique place, for, as the
county is sparsely populated, possessing many wild, secluded valleys,
and unnumbered rolling hills covered with virgin forests, it is but
natural that the birds should congregate in great numbers, reveling in
the solitude which man invariably destroys.
If the traveler is interested in these woodland tenants, and would
learn something of their haunts and life, he should visit one who knows
them as Thoreau knew all the wild and untamed things of nature.
A short distance from Fairfax the San Geronimo Valley, nestling among
the hills, is a fitting location for this naturalist and bird-lover.
Though a taxidermist of much skill, Mr. Charles Allen is more widely
known among ornithologists by that little fairy creature which makes
its appearance in the early spring, known as Allen’s Hummingbird.
Although similar in point of size, it is in its coloring that Allen’s
Hummer may be distinguished from other hummingbirds, for its green
back, ruffus-tail, streaked with black, dark-wings and ruffus head,
easily separate it from other varieties.
[Illustration: R. H. Hotaling’s Residence on “Sleepy Hollow Ranch.”]
To a reflective mind there is no time of the year more joyous than
spring. All nature seems gay and full of promise. Hope is vibrant in
the air, and enters into the nature of the receptive man through more
senses than science has yet named or discovered–an unnamed sense
which is neither sight, nor sound, nor touch, nor intuition, a vibrant
unseen force which is current throughout the universe, connecting man,
unknowingly, to every tree, shrub, and atom. Thus, in the spring one
“There’s a chorus in the valleys and an anthem on the hills
There’s an echo from the music which our inner being thrills
Till we long to journey outward where no other foot has trod,
And join in the song of worship at the shrine of Nature’s
Spring is synonymous with the return of the birds, and their blythe
little songs are but another promise of hope and expectation.
Following close upon the return of Allen’s Hummingbird is the little
piliolated warbler with his green back, pale, sulphur yellow breast,
and tiny “pee wit” call.
[Illustration: The Taxidermist of Marin.]
When the climbing roses are becoming gay with blossoms, our old
friends, the linnets, returning from their winter’s sojourn in lower
California, begin to build their nests.
A walk in the woods in the early morning or evening will acquaint
one with another spring bird, Vaux’s Swift, invariably seen about the
[Illustration: A Quail’s Nest.]
In our hasty glimpse of the birds, it is impossible to enumerate all
the feathered flock, and the renewal of a few old acquaintances will
have to suffice. A very characteristic summer inhabitant of Marin’s
woodlands is the Red Shafted Flicker, a large bird, conspicuous when
flying for its gay plumage, and often seen about the stumps of rotten
trees, in the holes of which it makes its nest. While strolling
in the woods we are often startled by a sharp rat-tat-tat on a
neighboring alder, and on close approach a flutter of wings discloses
a black-and-white creature with a dash of scarlet on his head. This is
Harris’s Woodpecker which makes the silent woods resound to its noisy
rapping. A harsh, squawking call, a swift flight of blue wings, and
an ensuing, noisy chatter announce the saucy California jay–the least
lovable to my mind of all the California birds. He is the Rockefeller
of the bird-world, consuming and destroying the eggs of his fellow
birds, leaving destruction and ruin in his wake in the shape of
desolate, broken nests. A pleasing contrast to this sharp, unruly bird,
is the large, beautiful orange mottled Bullock’s Oriole, who fills the
air near sundown, with his rich, melodious warble, which he repeats
with never-tiring zeal.
[Illustration: A Humming Bird’s Nest.]
[Illustration: Little Songsters.]
Of the fall birds, the crows and Brewer’s Blackbirds are the most
notable. Though the former are with us the entire year, it is in the
fall, in flocking time, that their loud caw-caw-caw is heard as in
bands they circle above the tree-tops; while Brewer’s Blackbirds,
sleek, glossy fellows, after foraging throughout the day in the
valleys, soar to some huge dead pine tree and chatter through the
twilight hours, flying when night arrives, with one accord, to a patch
of tules in some pond where they settle for the night.
[Illustration: A Sportsman.]
Of the non-migrating birds, the little dark brown Wren Tit, inhabitant
of thickets; the dull gray and white Titmouse, frequenter of oaks; the
friendly little California Chickadee; not to mention the great horned
Owls with their deep hoo-hoo-hoo, the barn-owls with their treble
screech, and lastly the beautiful oft-abused Quail, are but a few of
the interesting native inhabitants of Marin.
[Illustration: Near to Nature’s Heart.]
Owing to the widely scattered population in the northern part of
Marin County, this section is consequently more wild and natural in
appearance than the southern half.
Lying at the base of a range of high hills which slope somewhat
abruptly to the Ocean are the most interesting natural phenomena in
this region. This is a chain of sparkling lakes, three in number,
which at first view on descending the precipitous roadway seem to be
connected with the Ocean so near its edge do they appear.
Upon close approach, however, we discovered them to be of fresh water
and at an elevation of nine hundred feet above sea level, but their
close proximity to the Ocean and the cavernous inlets opening from the
sea would intimate their former connection.
[Illustration: A Bend in The Road.]
On the shore of the largest of these, Shafter Lake, is located, amid
the luxuriant copse wood, the Point Reyes Sportsmen’s Club House. As
the lakes are stocked with black bass, land-locked salmon, and various
kinds of trout the angler is a familiar figure in the vicinity; and the
abounding deer, quail, ducks, and snipe, attract the huntsman, while
the beauty of these unique lakes and their picturesque environs, though
little known to the general public, induce many a local pedestrian to
take the twelve-mile tramp from Olema, through the forests over the
steep ridges and down among the chemisal and sagebrush to this Ocean
[Illustration: One of the Sparkling Lakes.]
Some four miles northwest of the lakes a narrow valley, lined by
massive barren hills, winds its way to the Pacific. Mammoth oaks adorn
its wild and tangled glades, huge redwoods lift their lofty tops to the
sky, while ferns and trailing vines festoon the banks and rocks with
such luxuriance that the whole seems a riot of contending greens.
Winding in and out like a silver thread among the stately trees and
saplings is a little stream which fills the air with freshness and the
cadence of a song, while hanging in fantastic, airy festoons from the
trees which look in consequence like bearded Druids, covering trunks
and branches, spreading its delicate traceries on the rocks, and
abounding on every conceivable object are such masses of vari-colored
moss that one would feign exclaim, “Surely this should be called Moss,
not Bear Valley!” for while the latter roving inhabitants have long
since disappeared, the former is and no doubt will remain, in evidence
until the forest is no more.
It is necessary to see this Valley in order to comprehend its beauty.
[Illustration: Shafter Lake.]
One can drive through its cool depths on a finely graded road amid
thousands of majestic trees, while here and there an open space reveals
the sunlight and the blue sky overhead in contrast with the dim,
uncertain light pervading its woodland stretches.
No lover of the beautiful can regret a jaunt to this delightful spot,
for the charm and witchery of its unique beauty remain in the memory
long after the excursion is a thing of the past; even as the perfume of
a rose remains after the flower has faded.
The sole habitation in Bear Valley, located in a charming sunny
exposure with imposing trees and garden surrounding it, is the Country
Club, famous in local circles.
[Illustration: On the Shore of Shafter Lake.]
The deep baying of hounds from its extensive kennels forms the only
discordant note in the Valley, reminding one that even near to nature’s
heart man’s inherent primitiveness asserts itself. If, when wandering
in these woodland fastnesses, he (man) would hunt the wild creatures
with a camera it would require greater patience, skill and acumen than
making the ground wet with the blood of fawns and quail.
[Illustration: Entering Bear Valley.]
But “civilization has ever developed the physical and the intellectual
at the expense of the psychic, the humane, and the spiritual.”
[Illustration: The Country Club.]
Notwithstanding its small area, numerable excursions offer themselves
to the ambitious tourist in Marin, while the diversity of its surface
and climate, and the ease with which one can explore its remaining
primeval stretches, make this tiny northern peninsula a necessary
adjunct to San Francisco, which, with its ever-increasing population,
needs an outlet for recreation, relaxation, and repose.
[Illustration: Among the Ferns.]
Moreover, as the other Bay counties are less rugged in formation,
more inhabited, and consequently more conventional in appearance, true
nature-lovers find an outing in Marin a solace and an inspiration.
[Illustration: At the Trough.]
A short distance from Bear Valley the road, after passing a stretch of
low marsh-land covered with tules, reeds, and willows, comes suddenly
to a sheet of water which at first sight appears to be an inland lake,
so peaceful and protected are its waters.
This is none other than Tomales Bay–a long, narrow inlet from the
At the base of the range of lofty hills which shelter it on the west
is situated Inverness, the location of the tract of three thousand and
three hundred acres which was recently sold, constituting, it is said,
the largest single transaction in suburban lands ever made in this part
of California, or in fact anywhere else in this State. It involved over
half a million dollars, and is reputed to be the beginning of a new
movement in Marin.
[Illustration: Nearing Tomales Bay.]
The land is to be divided for summer homes and cottages; and as the
nearest station is Point Reyes, it is planned to operate a ferry across
Tomales Bay, which would shorten the distance to the railroad where a
new station is to be erected.
Extensive plans are also on foot to extend the electric road from its
present northern terminus at Fairfax to Inverness, and once that is
accomplished, the new summer resort and suburban town will be brought
within a little more than an hour’s ride of San Francisco.
Besides its many rural attractions there are more than six miles of
sand beach at Inverness, and the tide on going out exposes the sand to
the sun, which warms the water on its return, and insures delightful
bathing during the summer.
[Illustration: Tomales Bay.]
[Illustration: Church of the Assumption, Tomales.]
Unlike many of the counties of California, Marin, during the gold
period, attracted very little attention among the miners. Her chief,
and, in fact, only industry in those days was the raising of stock.
About the year 1860 the people in the northern part of the County,
especially in the Tomales district, located on the eastern part
of upper Tomales Bay, began growing potatoes with such successful
results that the County soon gained the name of an unusually fertile
Although stock, potato-raising, and dairying are still continued in
a small degree in the vicinity of Tomales, the chicken industry is
gradually superseding them, and the success attending this latest
departure portends well for the future of this section.
The small ranches, which formerly were most all incumbered with one or
more mortgages, are now being cleared, and the general aspect for the
small rancher is greatly improved.
Poultry raising as conducted under the present modern system is vastly
superior to anything of its kind in former years.
Some idea of the dimensions of this industry were gained during a
recent visit made by the author to one of these modern poultry farms.
The ranch was of average size, and in the neat yards inclosed by
high wire fences I saw some thirteen hundred laying hens, while eight
hundred pullets for the market, all graded as to age, were in various
[Illustration: Feeding Time.]
From this ranch between five and six cases of eggs are shipped every
week, each case containing thirty-six dozen; averaging two hundred and
seventy-five cases or thirty thousand eggs per year.
In the laying season over seven hundred eggs are gathered daily.
[Illustration: Chicken Ranches in Marin.]
The multitudinous, airy, white-washed hen houses in the numerous,
cleanly, sunny inclosures; the fields of grain raised for the fowls’
consumption; the incubator room and the adjoining brooder; the granary,
from which at stated periods the food is measured, are all adjuncts of
the modern poultry ranch.
It is interesting to watch the great flocks of fowl, all snowy white
(the white leghorn being preferred), darting noisily toward the
attendant as he enters their enclosure at feeding-time, and the ensuing
scramble for wheat, and the continuous pick-pick-pick verily make the
hen a definition for perpetual motion–in feeding-time, at least.
As but five acres of ground are necessary to carry on successfully a
moderate size chicken ranch, it may be seen how with less outlay and
incident expenses the small rancher can make better profits in this
industry than in dairying.
[Illustration: Defacing Nature.]
West of Tomales Bay a long narrow neck of land stretches far out into
the Pacific. Though somewhat barren in appearance, owing to the dearth
of trees and the abundance of low, tangled sagebrush, the fact that
grass grows the entire year on its slopes makes Point Reyes the famous
dairying center of Marin.
Ever since the early eighties dairying has been the leading industry of
the County, and, although carried on in all sections of Marin, it is on
Point Reyes that it assumes the most extensive proportions.
The ranches there are larger in extent, all owned by one person, namely
Mr. Webb Howard, and are rented yearly by the tenants, the cattle being
included with the land.
[Illustration: Dairying on the Edge of the Pacific.]
The average ranch on the Point contains about fourteen hundred and
fifty acres and one hundred and eighty cows; the old stock being
replenished as required.
Great quantities of butter are shipped by schooner and rail to the City
where it finds a ready market, as the Marin County butter is known to
be of a superior quality.
A trip to the Point by carriage cannot be made under two days at
the shortest, and as hotels and inns are unknown in this region, the
traveler is obliged to solicit shelter for the night from one of the
ranch houses which are scattered at wide intervals.
[Illustration: In the Pasture.]
There are few places, save Ireland, where hospitality, the real
whole-souled, hearty, genuine hospitality, is so dispensed without
question to the stranger as in this tiny northwest corner of Marin.
Though loath to intrude, the hearty reception tendered and the ensuing
civilities received convince the wayfarer of his welcome, and have
earned a reputation for these good people rivaling in proportion the
Emerald Isle itself.
After spending the night at one of these ranches we proceeded on the
following morning to the most interesting, fascinating, and historical
sheet of water in Marin County.
In 1577, Sir Francis, then only Captain, Drake, already distinguished
as an experienced navigator, fitted out, with the pecuniary aid of the
court, a buccaneering expedition against the Spaniards.
After reaching the Pacific and intercepting several privateers, he
bethought himself of another object, that of finding the much-talked-of
northern passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
[Illustration: Going Home.]
If he could discover this passage, he would not only perform a
notable service to his country, but would have a comparatively short
and safe voyage homeward. But after a run of nearly two months,
he experienced such bitterly cold weather, his people suffered so
severely, and his heavily-laden ship leaked so badly, that he deemed
it prudent to abandon any further search for a northern strait; and
accordingly running down the Coast in search of a stopping place, he
passed the long, projecting promontory of Point Reyes, and under its
lee discovered “a convenient and fit harbor” in which he anchored on
June 17th, 1579. At this place, which is now known as Drake’s Bay, he
remained thirty-six days. During that period, which was required to
thoroughly repair and refit his vessel, he had a number of interviews,
and some remarkable intercourse with the natives.
[Illustration: A Marin Ranch.]
[Illustration: Sir Francis Drake.–From an old English Painting.]
Upon sailing into the harbor he found a wild, desolate looking beach;
but the next day Indians appeared in considerable numbers. One of them
paddled out in a canoe to within hailing distance of the ship, where he
made a long oration, accompanied by violent gestures, after which he
returned to the shore. Approaching the ship a second time in the same
manner, he brought with him a head-dress of black feathers tastefully
arranged, and a small basket, neatly woven, filled with an herb called
“tabah.” These he delivered to the English, and with the exception of
a hat could not be induced to accept any of the presents offered him in
[Illustration: A Bay of Solitude.]
All his actions, as well as of the people on shore, indicated respect
and deference for the English, as if they were a superior race of
In the course of a few days Drake, having carefully surveyed the place,
brought his ship to anchor near the shore and landed his men with arms
and provisions to set up tents and build a barricade. The Indians at
this collected on the neighboring hills and looked down with wonder
and amazement, so much so, that the English supposed themselves taken
for gods; a supposition which proved correct, for, descending, the male
Indians brought ornaments, net-work, quivers, skins, etc., intended for
offerings, while the women performed divers wild and violent dances, in
which many of the participants were cut and wounded.
[Illustration: Drake’s Bay.]
In order to prevent a repetition of this gruesome spectacle, Drake
ordered religious services to be performed in their presence, thus
indicating that they too were but creatures of a God above.
After prayers, psalms were sung which especially attracted the
attention of the Indians.
Music was a language they could understand, being a universal language
intelligible to every human heart; and they were so delighted that at
every pause they testified their pleasure.
[Illustration: A Bit of Rocky Shore.]
The business of repairing and refitting the vessel being at length
finished, the cargo re-embarked and the peaceful character of the
Indians being now so well understood that no trouble from them was
apprehended, Drake, with a number of his crew made a short excursion
inland, which being necessarily made on foot extended but a few miles,
and did not afford any wide or distant view; and the English, like the
Spaniards under Cabrillo, though within less than a day’s travel of
the most spacious and magnificent bay in the world, had no idea of its
[Illustration: Marin Cows.]
When ready to sail, Drake erected, by way of monument and memorial of
his having been there and taken possession of the country, a large
post, firmly planted, upon which he caused to be nailed a plate of
brass engraven with the name of the English Queen, the day and date
of his arrival, the voluntary submission of the inhabitants to English
sovereignty, and beneath all, his own name. Fastened to the plate was
an English sixpence of recent coinage, so placed as to exhibit Her
All of which goes to prove that Drake supposed himself to be the
discoverer of this region, and was not aware that thirty-six years
previously the Spaniards had passed the same Coast and anticipated him.
Having found no northern passage to the Atlantic, and making up his
mind that if one existed it was too far north to be practical, Drake
returned by the route pointed out by Magellan in his circumnavigation
of the globe.
On July 23d, after many ceremonies of a religious character, and
taking an appropriate farewell of the sorrowful natives, he stood out
to sea. As his ship lessened in the distance, following the sun over
the trackless waste of waters, the Indians ran to the tops of their
hills to keep it in view as long as possible, and lighted fires, which
indicated, long after they themselves could be distinguished from the
vessel, that they were still watchful, and doubtless turning their
straining eyes toward the departing strangers.
[Illustration: Drake’s Cross.]
The waves of three centuries have lapped these shores; countless storms
have swept over the promontories, and many tempests have grappled with
its cliffs since the year when Sir Francis first dropped anchor in the
Bay which ultimately bore his name.
Time has made few changes in this Ocean inlet, as man has practically
shunned it; for excepting a small cabin on the beach, no habitation
meets the eye. The schooner which touches there three times a week
to load with butter is the only keel that rides its waves, and the
aspect of the lofty white cliffs which encircle this Bay of Solitude
are unaltered since the time when, attracting the English navigator to
their shores, they received, because of their resemblance to his native
cliffs of Dover, the appellation New Albion.
It seems unjust and absurd that on the shores of this Bay, which was
the theater of Drake’s actions in our State, no post, stone or monument
is placed whereon to commemorate his landing, or inform the traveler of
the history enacted there; while in Golden Gate Park on a mound which
his eyes never saw, on soil which his feet never trod, a lofty granite
cross rears its solid strength in his commemoration; an illustration of
the inconsistencies of man.
[Illustration: A Rugged Coast Line.]
[Illustration: Point Reyes.]
Point Reyes should be called the home of the meadowlark for, while
found in other parts of the County, it is on this northern point that
the larks congregate in such numbers that the air is always vibrant
with their cheerful, happy songs.
Perched on the lichen-covered fences, these large, plump,
yellow-breasted fellows are invariably heard warbling their rich,
mellow notes with untiring energy, and making, to my mind, the sweetest
and most enchanting of all music.
There is perhaps no more dangerous and uninviting extent of coast line
from Oregon to Mexico than that extending from Point Reyes northward to
the mouth of Tomales Bay.
To go ashore at any point along this line is to go to certain
destruction, and the fact of its proximity to the harbor of San
Francisco renders it doubly dangerous, as vessels have gone hard ashore
under full sail, little dreaming that danger was near and thinking that
they were heading for the Golden Gate.
Since the establishment, on the extreme point, of the lighthouse in
1870, there have been few wrecks compared with former years, while
those imperiled on the Coast receive assistance from the brave crew of
the life-saving station located on the beach.
[Illustration: Point Reyes Life-Saving Station.]
Near the close of a very murky, foggy day, in August, 1875, a sailing
vessel, the Warrior Queen, bound from Auckland, New Zealand, to San
Francisco, went ashore on the beach, about three miles north of the
The sky had been so overcast with fog that her officers had not been
able to take any observations for ten days and their “dead-reckoning”
showed them to be many miles at sea.
Suddenly they found themselves in the breakers going ashore on a sand
beach and by immediately casting anchor, the vessel was held from going
hard ashore, although she was later driven far upon the beach.
The men embarked in three boats and put to sea rather than try to
effect a landing in the surf, and reached San Francisco safely the
[Illustration: Plowing in October.]
When the Warrior Queen was discovered by the settlers the next morning
after she struck, there was consequently no sign of life on board,
and it became a matter of conjecture to those who had assembled on the
beach as to what had become of the crew.
It was decided to go on board and discover, if possible, something to
show the fate of the men, but the difficulty which confronted them was
how to communicate with the ship.
[Illustration: “The Warrior Queen.”]
At last, Mr. Henry Claussen, a sea-faring man of much experience (who
still lives with his family on the Point), volunteered to swim out to
the vessel and take a line on board with him. He performed the daring
feat and was rewarded by finding that all books and instruments were
gone, hence he knew that the men had put to sea.
On a ranch but a short distance from the light-house the only known
relic of the wreck remains. This is none other than the Warrior Queen
herself-the figure-head of the vessel. Clad in a suit of mail, a shield
clenched tightly to her side, with head upraised in proud defiance, the
Warrior Queen seems still to send a challenge to the elements; but now
her battle is for life itself–against rain and wind and the decay of
[Illustration: The Lighthouse.]
While prolific in legends and memories, history is not the only
vivifying current in Marin, and though linked inseparably with the
past, she is not a worn and decrepit matron relying on artifice solely
to revive her charms, but a young and vigorous maiden, in whom the
ambitions, powers, and possibilities are all centered but untried.
That a new era is awakening for this region is without doubt. Large
tracts of land formerly held intact are now being divided into building
lots, and the rapidity with which these are selling portends a rapidly
Various railroads are contending for rights of way, and countless
rumors are in circulation, any of which means a changed aspect for the
[Illustration: Where the Waves Break.]
The Marin Terminal is constructing a route from Petaluma to Point San
Pedro, and two railroad companies have filed articles of incorporation
for the avowed purpose of making some points on Marin’s shore the land
terminus for railroads from San Francisco to points in the northern
part of the State.
The recent purchase of Silva Island, in Richardson’s Bay, by the
officials of the Western Pacific gives credence to a rumor that, a long
wharf being constructed from this Island, the company would institute
a terminus there.
The facilities which this County offers for a railroad center are
undeniable; while the monopolistic control of the surrounding Bay
terminals renders another railroad outlet a practical necessity, and
its adjacency to San Francisco and the excellent harbors which skirt
its shores make Marin a natural and practical center.
[Illustration: The Glory of the Dying Day.]
Without doubt the ensuing years will witness many radical changes for
this northern peninsula.
With the increase in population there is every probability that a
connection from Point San Pedro across to the Belt Line on the Contra
Costa shore will be consummated, linking the Bay counties by a boat
ride of scarce fifteen minutes.
The new coaling station which the Government will erect at California
City, a small place near Tiburon, is another enterprise in the County,
which will call for the expenditure of more than three hundred and
fifty thousand dollars. It is said that the Bureau of Equipment of the
Navy Department has already signed with a New York firm to begin on
Having reached the limits of Marin’s enterprises, and territory, Point
Reyes, from which westward stretches an apparent infinitude of sea,
to where the sun, now dipping on the verge of the horizon, casts its
refulgent beams, I gazed backward on Marin which lay behind me glowing
in the glory of the dying day.
, on whose cliffs nature has hung no tapestry of
verdure, now enshrouded in the lambent haze, no longer looked as if
composed of material objects, but rather like its luminous wraith
emerging from the sea. And as the mists of evening veiled it gradually
from my view I murmured:
“There is a future as well as a past for this little County, a future
not painted in the dim tints of the fading day, but in the bright,
glorious radiance of the expectant morrow.”