To the average tourist there are few states in the Union which offer
more attractions than California.
Though its mild climate, fertile valleys, and scenic beauties
are counted among its chief assets, still they are not its sole
possessions, for, linked to the present great commercial activity of
the Pacific Coast is a chain of picturesque events, clustered about its
birth and infancy, which lends to the whole a peculiar charm, giving it
a distinct individuality.
While the footsteps of the Spaniards grow fainter and fainter as
they glide away into the corridors of time, and their traces become
gradually assimilated by the progressive and oft-times aggressive
Yankee, nevertheless the echoes from that former non-progressive
splendor float back to us, and history re-animates the old adobes,
breathing into a few secluded valleys the spirit of the past.
[Illustration: One of the Commodious Ferry Boats.]
As the seat of historic interest, Monterey has received more homage
than any other county on the Slope. Tourists flock to pay court to
her old landmarks, writers eagerly pore over her time-worn archives,
and the wielders of the brush have congregated in such numbers as to
form an artists’ colony. Though Monterey is undoubtedly justified in
carrying off the palm for her many attractions, yet it is but fair
that she should divide the honors of the past with her sister counties,
being content to reign as Sovereign of the Coast.
Skirting the Northern end of San Francisco Bay is one of the smallest
and most picturesque counties of California.
[Illustration: The Ferry Landing.]
As a tiny gem in a coronet appears insignificant when contrasted with
the other stones in point of size, but when viewed alone is admired for
the diversity of its coloring and rare quality, so Marin, when measured
by acres, appears insignificant, but when estimated by the beauty and
diversity of its scenery stands unique, apart, alone.
As we approach Marin’s shores, after a half hour’s ride across the Bay
on a commodious modern ferry-boat, our first thought on nearing the
land is its remarkable similarity to an Italian settlement. For surely
this town, situated on the steep hillside, is a counterpart of many an
Italian hamlet, which, clinging to some abrupt cliff or bluff, seems to
defy nature by its occupancy.
The clear blue of the California sky overhead but added to the
illusion, although upon closer approach it was gradually dispelled by
the modern American houses in place of quaint Italian structures.
Leaving the Depot we passed an attractive little park, well kept and
gay with flowers, and a walk of a few moments brought us to the most
historic part of Sausalito.
Though not in the section designated “old Sausalito,” still it is
the oldest in memories, for it was here that John Read, the first
English-speaking settler in the County, came in 1826, erecting near
the beach a crude board house. While waiting for a land grant from the
Mexican Government, Read lived here.
[Illustration: Main Street, Sausalito.]
Being of an ingenious turn of mind and having a practical nautical
knowledge, Read set about constructing a sail boat, which he
subsequently plied between Sausalito and San Francisco, carrying
passengers. This was the first ferry boat on the Bay and when we
contrast the little sailboat making its periodical trips across a
solitary Bay with the present ferry craft, passing on their route
ships from every quarter of the globe, a mere three score of years
seems short for such a change, and proves what can be accomplished by
Anglo-Saxon energy and enterprise.
[Illustration: Sausalito Residences.]
Upon receiving his grant for the Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio,
lying north of Sausalito, Mr. Read moved there in 1834.
A few hundred yards back from the beach, in what is now called
“Wildwood Glen,” was the first adobe house built in Sausalito. Only
a few stones now mark the spot on which it stood, and a solitary
pear-tree, gnarled and knotted with age stands a living witness of
peace and plenty and decay. For it was in the bountiful days preceding
the great influx into California by the Americans that Captain William
Antonio Richardson, an Englishman but lately arrived on a whaling
vessel from “the Downs,” made application, and was given a grant to the
Sausalito Rancho by the Mexican Government. He soon began building his
adobe house and with the aid of the Indians it was rapidly completed.
In the spring of 1836 he brought his beautiful young wife, formerly the
Senorita Maria Antonia Martinez, to their new abode.
[Illustration: The Club House, Sausalito.]
The Senora Maria Antonio was the daughter of Ygnacio Martinez, for whom
the present town of that name in Contra Costa County was called.
[Illustration: The Son of the Renowned Captain.]
Of all the dreams of happiness and love that filled the minds of the
youthful pair on that fair spring morning, as in a small boat they
were rowed across the Bay, by Indians, to their new home, we can not
judge, but I am sure their dreams, however fond, were realized, for it
is recorded somewhere that joy and peace reigned supreme in the little
However this may be, a young orchard was set out, cattle were bought
and tended and the Senora’s clever hands soon had the walls laden with
the sweetest of Castilian roses. A stream flowed by the house on its
way to the Bay, and on many a bright morning the Indian women of the
household might be seen bending low over the stones washing the family
linen. The stream has long since disappeared, as also the remnant of
the race that washed in its waters–one through an unaccountable law
of nature, the other through the rapacious greed and oppression of the
[Illustration: A Typical Roadway.]
Owing to the abundance of pure, fresh water found on the Sausalito
Rancho it was shipped to Yerba Buena and the Presidio. The water was
conducted by spouts to the beach, thence into a tank on a scow, which
conveyed it across the Bay. This mode of supplying San Francisco with
water lasted for some time, until with the increase of population this
primitive means was abandoned.
A tule boat operated by Indians regularly crossed the Bay for the mail,
many of the Indians evincing considerable skill in navigation under the
tutelage of their able master.
Standing beside a heap of stones–historic stones because the sole
remnant of this abode of the past–my glance wandered to the blue water
of the Bay which laps the edge of the glen and stretches over to the
distant hills which descend in gentle undulations to this beautiful
shimmering sheet of blue. And this Bay, too, speaks of the second
settler of Marin, for it bears his name.
As my glance now fell on the enchanting little glen with its tangled
woodland and steep declivities, and then to the fair stretches of land
that lay beyond, a sigh of sadness escaped from me unawares. I thought
how all this lovely region, this Rancho Sausalito, comprising 19,500
acres, as varied and beautiful as ever nature put her seal to, this
land, which rightfully belonged to Richardson and his descendants,
had been appropriated by others through pretext of law and what not,
until the heirs of the pioneer can call but a small building lot their
own. Thus we ever find that “man’s inhumanity to man makes countless
[Illustration: A Reminder of Rhineland.]
But the son of the renowned Captain, a hale, hearty old gentleman, with
a pleasant Spanish accent, speaks with calm equanimity of their loss of
fortune, showing not a vestige of ill-will toward the transgressors,
and practicing in full the true Christian spirit so often lauded but
“Sometimes, it is true, it makes me sad,” he once replied, in answer to
my queries, “to think of all the Rancho being gone. As a boy I used to
ride, chasing the cattle, climbing the steep mountain sides followed
by our vaqueros … and how wild it was then and so beautiful–so
beautiful!” Thus the heir to all these acres would extol their beauty
without more reproach than that it sometimes made him sad.
Ascending the glen by a winding country road, shadowed by trees and
shrubs, it was not long before we reached a small, low shingled cottage
nestled deep in the shade of tall bays and buckeyes. A neat sign over
the door bearing the inscription “O’Connell Glen,” met our gaze, and
then we knew that this little cottage, with its wealth of solitude and
humble exterior, was the former home of the poet, Daniel O’Connell.
For it was in this rural retreat that O’Connell, with his family, spent
many busy, imaginative years.
[Illustration: A Hillside Road.]
A bohemian of the truest kind, he delighted in what Marin had to offer.
With a stout stick, and accompanied by his daughters, he would often
be seen sallying forth from his rustic lodge to tramp over hills and
through canyons, exploring the apparently inaccessible, viewing and
absorbing the wondrous beauty of woodland fastnesses, airy heights,
and rugged cliffs. Feeling the very pulse of nature, his poems were
the embodiment of all he had seen and felt, delighting the reader with
their subtle charm and graceful imagery, which were peculiarly the
Leaving his favorite retreat and last abode, for it was here in
1899 that the poet breathed his last, a short walk around the bend
of the hill brought us to another spot, sacred to the memory of the
poet. This is the O’Connell monument which, as the inscription tells
us, was erected by his sorrowing friends. The monument is in the
form of a granite seat, some fifteen feet in length, fashioned in a
graceful, curving crescent. Placed on the bank above the roadway, it is
surrounded by great masses of bright-colored flowers, and approached by
a few stone steps. The floor is of small, inlaid stones, in the center
of which a three-leaf Shamrock proclaims the nationality of the poet.
[Illustration: Hillside Gardening.]
Besides the name he made for himself, O’Connell came of illustrious
ancestors, being the son of a distinguished lawyer, Charles O’Connell,
and grand-nephew of the great Irish patriot, Daniel O’Connell.
[Illustration: O’Connell’s Seat.]
On the back of the seat are inscribed these lines, written by the
poet but ten days before his fatal illness, and prophetic of the long
journey he was so soon to take, where, away from the cares and turmoil
of this world, his soul could solve its remaining problems:
I have a Castle of Silence, flanked by a lofty keep,
And across the drawbridge lieth the lovely chamber of sleep;
Its walls are draped in legends woven in threads of gold.
Legends beloved in dreamland, in the tranquil days of old.
Here lies the Princess sleeping in the palace, solemn and
And knight and countess slumber; and even the noisy rill
That flowed by the ancient tower, has passed on its way to
And the deer are asleep in the forest, and the birds are
asleep in the tree.
And I in my Castle of Silence, in my chamber of sleep, lie
Like the far-off murmur of forests come the turbulent echoes
And the wrangling tongues about me have now no power to keep
My soul from the solace exceeding the blessed Nirvana of
Lower the portcullis softly, sentries, placed on the wall;
Let shadows of quiet and silence on all my palace fall;
Softly draw the curtains…. Let the world labor and weep–
My soul is safe environed by the walls of my chamber of
Turning from these verses to rest on the granite seat, we were
confronted with a view of surpassing loveliness. Our attention had been
so engrossed in examining this monument to genius that, until then, we
had failed to perceive the commanding situation it held.
Below us stretched the peaceful waters of the Bay; on the left Angel
Island and the Berkeley hills, with old Diablo dimly seen in the
distance; in front, Alcatraz with its warlike aspect lay basking in
the sun; while to the right the City, with its many hills and pall
of smoke, could be plainly discerned. Truly a fitting spot for this
memorial to genius.
[Illustration: Daniel O’Connell.]
Another attractive feature of Sausalito, besides its superb marine
view, is its abundance of flowers. These not only grow in thick
profusion in the quaint hillside gardens, but are planted beside
the roadways, covering many an erstwhile bare and unsightly bank
with trailing vines, gay nasturtiums and bright geraniums. There is
something in the spirit of this hillside gardening, this planting of
sweet blossoms for the public at large, that is very appealing in these
days of monopolistic greed, when everything that is worth while has a
fence around it. Thus it is refreshing to find a little spot in this
dollar-mad America where the citizens disinterestedly beautify the
public streets for the enjoyment of each passer-by.
[Illustration: A Wind-Blown Tree.]
Owing to the hilly surface of Sausalito, driving is rather a precarious
enjoyment, but there is one drive which, with its superb marine vistas,
amply compensates for the apparent lack of level roads. With the
intention of taking this drive we procured a team and were soon driven
rapidly along the boulevard skirting the water front, past the San
Francisco Yacht Club, with its medley of white sailboats and smaller
craft bobbing about in the water, and then through old Sausalito
nestled in the gulch. Thence ascending the hill, the road wound around
bend after bend with the Bay ever below us at a distance of a few
Arriving at a small, shingled lodge beside a gate through which we
passed into the reservation, we soon came upon the Fort Baker Barracks
in the hollow of the hills. It seems as if Nature, in anticipation of
man’s conflict with his brother man, had formed these hills on purpose
for a fortification, so well adapted do they seem for their present
Beyond the Barracks, at the base of a cliff, we spied some small, white
buildings clustered on the rocks extending out into the water. This
proved to be Lime Point, and the buildings we were approaching belong
to the Government, constituting a lighthouse- and fog-signal station.
We found it to be one of the many smaller stations that are distributed
along the Coast. There is a diminutive white light, and a steam fog
whistle is kept ever ready to send out its note of warning at the
slightest approach of the milky vapor which is a terror to the seamen.
Lime Point is directly opposite Fort Point, the distance being but
seven-eighths of a mile, and forms the Northern point of Golden Gate
Strait. While the view from these rocks is expansive, still it could
not be called commanding, as the Point is too near the sea level to
give the height and majesty requisite for an enchanting ocean vista.
[Illustration: Fissures of the Cliffs.]
As a pass is required before one can go through the reservation we
retraced our steps to the Barracks and upon receiving the passport from
the Sergeant Major, proceeded on our way up the steep, winding road
which leads out of the Valley. Reaching the summit, the road continues
its circuitous route; now in sight of the Bay and City, and again in
among the bare, rolling hills.
While descending into a little valley we were stopped by a number of
heavily laden teams, lined up in the middle of the road. Before we
could question as to the delay, a volley of shots rang out, resounding
again and again in the silent canyons, and a flapping red flag near by
plainly denoted that the soldiers were engaged in target practice.
In reply to our query as to the length of time we should be required
to halt, a soldier on the team in front informed us that sometimes one
had to wait an hour or an hour and a half. Other teams having lined up
behind, a retreat was impossible, and the prospect of a long wait in
the hot sun was not very agreeable. We learned that a new barracks was
in the course of construction below, in the valley at the head of the
Rodeo Lagoon, and these teams were laden with provisions for the men
[Illustration: Nearing the Point.]
Just as we had composed ourselves for the inevitable, a brisk waving
of red flags was seen in the Valley, followed by the moving of the
cavalcade in front; and, much to our satisfaction, we soon left our
pessimistic informer far in the rear.
[Illustration: Fishing Boats.]
On the most southerly point of Marin a narrow rocky neck of land
extends some distance into the Ocean. At the base are jagged rocks
over which the sea surges ceaselessly, cutting arches and miniature
caves in the fissures of the cliffs. From this rocky headland, which
formerly was a menace and terror to navigators, now streams a steady
light, and the point erstwhile spelling destruction now proves a
blessing to vessels which are guided safely into port by the aid of its
welcome light. This is Point Bonita and the Bonita Light, which, as we
approached, stood out clear in the afternoon sun.
[Illustration: The Derrick Wharf.]
Stopping at the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling, we proceeded on foot to
the Point, accompanied by the keeper. Pausing in the narrow pathway, he
drew our attention to a small derrick-wharf for the tender, at the base
of the steep cliff on which we stood. This he explained was where the
boat, which touches here three times a week, lands provisions, oil, and
“But, how,” I asked in astonishment as I gazed down the dizzy depth,
“do you get them up here?”
“Oh, that is very simply done,” he responded; “we start up the engine
and they are hauled up the bluff on a tram.”
Owing to the perilous windings of the path around an almost
perpendicular cliff a small tunnel has been cut through the solid rock.
As we emerged from this tunnel the Lighthouse confronted us only a few
[Illustration: Point Bonita Lighthouse.]
The tower containing the light is a square, brick structure twenty-one
feet in height, situated at the edge of the Point at an elevation
of one hundred and twenty-four feet. The Bonita Light, although of
second-class rating, is so advantageously situated that its fixed,
white rays are visible seventeen miles at sea.
The first lighthouse was established here in 1855, the light being
placed in the picturesque old tower still standing higher up on an
adjoining promontory and now serving as a day signal. The location was
unsurpassed, they say, in clear weather; but when the fog rolled in it
was quickly seen that a great mistake had been made in elevating the
lamp, for often when the light was entirely obscured by a fog bank, the
bluff below would be quite clear, so in 1877 the light was removed to
its present location.
[Illustration: Overlooking the Fog.]
An old gun, now rusty, lying beside its gun-carriage on the bluff,
was the first fog signal established on the Pacific Coast by the
government. In foggy weather it was discharged every hour and a half
during day and night.
When we contrast the present steam sirens, blowing five blasts every
thirty-five seconds, with the former primitive means, we realize a
little what scientists and inventors have been doing these fifty years.
The genial keeper, who is a second cousin of the late Colonel Robert
G. Ingersoll, showed us every nook and cranny in the place, from the
boilers, the lamp, and its appurtenances down to the neat store-rooms
and paint lockers.
Though I have visited many fog-stations before, this one surpassed
all others in its perfect order and scrupulous cleanliness, reminding
one of a well regulated ship. So exactly was every corner and space
utilized, that, as Dickens once remarked of a steam-packet, “everything
was something else than what it pretended to be.”
All the appliances of the Station are in duplicate. Thus, if one siren
becomes disabled, another immediately takes its place; so with the
Retracing our steps to the mainland, we noted on the edge of the cliff
near the keeper’s dwelling the life-saving station whose crew do much
effective work about these jagged headlands. Bidding good-bye to the
keeper, we turned our backs on Bonita and started homeward. We had been
so engrossed with the Point and its environs as to be unconscious of
the flight of time, and, noting with surprise the waning afternoon, we
urged our horses to a brisk pace and sped rapidly along the elevated
[Illustration: The First Fog Signal.]
The sun was slowly approaching the edge of the horizon, and Bonita,
still visible in the West, stood out a silhouette against a brilliant
sky. At its feet lay outstretched the gorgeously illumined sea; some
fleecy golden cloudlets, floating over the Gate, seemed a soft shower
of petals from the State’s fair emblem; while the mellow light of the
departing day still rested lovingly on the loftiest hilltops, and over
on the city side occasional windows reflected his glory, as with a spot
of glistening gold. To the southward the blue misty tones of the Santa
Cruz Mountains began to merge into their robes of approaching night.
Suddenly out upon the still air rang a deep boom! boom! Angel Island
was rendering her last tribute to the god of day.
[Illustration: Angel Island.]
[Illustration: The Departing Day.]
Then there came to me those beautiful lines of our own poet, Lowell
A touch of night on the hill-tops gray;
A dusky hush on the quivering Bay;
A calm moon mounting the silent East–
White slave the day-god has released;
Small, scattered clouds
That seemed to wait
Like sheets of fire
O’er the Golden Gate.
And under Bonita, growing dim,
With a seeming pause on the ocean’s rim,
Like a weary lab’rer, sinks the sun
To the booming crash of the sunset gun.
All over the long slopes grown with green,
With the white tents scattering in between,
The flickering camp-fires start to glow
In the groves of the fair Presidio;
While the solemn chord
Of the evening hymn
Rolls over the Bay
Through the twilight dim
As the flag comes down to an anthem grand,
The brave, old song of our native land,
And Angel Isle, when the song is done,
Booms out “Amen!” with its sunset gun.
Although Marin County was first opened up by the advent of the North
Pacific Coast Railroad in 1875, it was not until the transfer to the
North Shore that the road was operated in its present modern system.
With the exception of the extreme North and East where the trains are
run by steam, the County is traversed by well appointed electric trains
which combine easy riding with quick transit.
This was the first electric line in California to be operated by the
third rail system, and it has proved satisfactory in every detail.
Owing to the danger of contact with the third rail, the road is fenced
on both sides, and the rail is concealed at stations.
At the head of Richardson’s Bay, and but a short distance from Mill
Valley, is situated the North Shore Powerhouse. Here the power,
which is transmitted from Colgate, over 150 miles away, is stored.
Should there be any accident and stoppage to the power, electricity
is generated at the Powerhouse by steam, which is always kept in
As I gazed at the three switches, each in its separate vault (in order
to be kept fire-proof) it was difficult to realize that in the small
wires I beheld were centered power to operate trains, illuminate and
run machinery and countless other utilities.
[Illustration: Mt. Tamalpais From Mill Valley.]
As this, the greatest motive power in the world to-day, was long
unknown except as an element of destruction, until the man came who
harnessed the lightning and made it do man’s work, so there are still
undoubtedly other forces of nature which but await the master mind to
discover their utility.
[Illustration: The Powerhouse.]
A short distance west of the Powerhouse, on a slightly elevated mound,
is an old orchard whose gnarled trees have sheltered for a generation
and more the yellow adobe walls of the first settler of Marin.
But the elements of nature with relentless fingers have played about
this relic of the past, until but a small vestige is left to remind us
of what has been.
[Illustration: An Electric Train.]
When a grant to the Corte Madera del Presidio Rancho was given to John
Read he began building his home, and in order to construct a large,
commodious adobe, he erected a sawmill in the vicinity, and there the
lumber for his home was whipsawed.
Thus, it is this mill, which is still standing in undisturbed repose
these many years, which gave the surrounding valley its name.
Read had barely finished his adobe when he died, and the place
subsequently passed into the hands of the boldest bandit of Marin.
The terror of the surrounding counties–whose very name sent a chill
even to the bravest heart–was Barnardino Garcia, otherwise called
“Three-fingered Jack.” He possessed all the daring and bravery of a
dauntless marauder, and the anecdotes of his bloody adventures form
many a weird and ghostly tale when told by the flickering firelight of
a winter’s night, sending the listener to bed inwardly quaking, with
eyes peering into dark corners.
[Illustration: A Relic of the Past.]
The most widely known of his crimes was committed shortly after the
raising of the Bear Flag at Sonoma, which proclaimed the Golden West to
be the Republic of California.
The Bear Flag party being short of ammunition and a rumor gaining
circulation to the effect that General Vallejo had a cache of powder
stored on the Sotoyome Rancho near the present town of Healdsburg, it
was decided to send men to procure some. Cowie and Fowler volunteered
to go, although the journey was known to be a perilous one; but the
need was great, and these pioneers considered it no risk.
[Illustration: Mill Valley Depot.]
They were warned, however, to avoid the way through Santa Rosa, and to
confine their paths to the hills out of the ken of Garcia and his band.
Whether the Americans failed to heed the warning, or whether Garcia’s
men discovered them in the hills, will never be known. They were taken
prisoners, under a pledge that their lives would be spared, but were
finally murdered with great cruelty.
When Cowie and Fowler did not return to Sonoma within a reasonable
time, great anxiety was felt in the little garrison.
Finally a searching party was sent out, but it soon returned with news
of the murder.
The Bear Flag leaders swore revenge on the murderers, and eventually
captured a number of Garcia’s band, although he himself escaped. A
fugitive from justice, he journeyed south, becoming lieutenant to the
famous desperado, Joaquin Murietta, only to be subsequently shot in
1853 by Captain Harry Love’s Rangers. His hand of three fingers was
sent as a trophy to the commandant.
[Illustration: The Three Wells.]
Thus ended the career of this bold adventurer.
[Illustration: The Cascade.]
Though there are many towns in Marin which command a more expansive
vista, and offer by their marine situation greater diversity in
out-door sports, still Mill Valley, nestling at the base of Tamalpais,
has proved a delightful summer retreat and home center; for, dotted in
the wooded canyons, beside the streams, or in some sunny exposure may
be found many artistic dwellings which, while possessing the advantages
of the country, are within easy access of the city.
[Illustration: The Old Mill.]
The most notable among the attractive residences is the home of Mr.
George T. Marsh.
Stepping within the odd wooden gate, which reminds one of the “Toriis,”
or sacred gates of Nikko, the stranger feels that he has indeed touched
a fairy wand, and been transported to the heart of the Mikado’s realm.
[Illustration: Like the Mikado’s Realm.]
Liquid streams, spanned by fantastic miniature bridges on whose banks
dwarf shrubs of various kind abound; fish ponds and islands; quaint
metal lamps beside the roadway on their low posts, that are unique
by daylight and when lit add all the witchery and charm of the floral
isle; these and numerous other features of the Orient come unexpectedly
upon the enchanted visitor, until he forgets the busy commercial
activity of the outer world, and is in fancy again wandering in the
grand old dreamy groves of Miyajima.
Another spot deserving the attention of the visitor is the quaint
Club-House of the Out-Door Art Club. This Club has been organized by
the ladies of Mill Valley for the purpose of preserving the natural
beauties of the town and vicinity and staying, if possible, the hand
of those primitive beings who, with ruthless vandalism, cut down and
otherwise destroy the most prized of our rural possessions, our noble
Much credit is due these energetic ladies in their worthy endeavor
to teach those who have “eyes that see not” the wondrous beauties of
Besides its own unique features, the chief attraction which draws to
this little burg tourists and travelers from all parts, as by a magnet,
is the fact that it is the starting point of the Mill Valley and Mt.
Tamalpais Scenic Railway.
Leaving the station, the mountain train winds through redwood groves,
beside streams and pools, passing on its route the Hotel Blithedale,
founded many years ago by Dr. Cushing as a sanitarium, so propitious to
health is this sheltered, sunny exposure.
[Illustration: A Reminder of the Toriis.]
[Illustration: Some of the Quaint Lamps.]
[Illustration: The Dining Room at Miyajima.]
The train is operated by a steam-traction engine which combines the
ordinary cog system with an additional contrivance appropriate for
turning curves. As the train gradually climbs in its serpentine route,
and chaparral takes the place of redwood, the country below begins to
unfold; towns appear in miniature, and hills which on close approach
have distinct characteristics now merge into one another, forming an
unbroken mass which stretches west to the Pacific, on whose sapphire
bosom may frequently be seen the dim outline of the Farallon Islands,
while to the southward Point San Pedro and the City are visible, and
San Francisco Bay with intricate windings can be seen to join San Pablo
and Suisun bays on the east.
[Illustration: A Creek in Summer.]
[Illustration: In the Hay Field.]
[Illustration: The Out-door Art Club.]
It requires many trips to fully appreciate and comprehend the marvelous
diversity of views spread before one, while the variety of superb
effects to be witnessed from this mountain cannot be found in a single
To watch the wonderful radiance of sunrise when Apollo mounts in his
chariot of fire above the Berkeley hills, or to see a billowy floor
of fog, outspread before one, obscuring the lower world and leaving
naught save this mountain peak unwrapped by the fog-mantle; and then to
witness the pale light of the moon marking a silver pathway on the Bay,
and casting grotesque shadows on the landscape; and these are but a few
of the beauties garnered here.
The road which is known as “the crookedest in the world,” turns
innumerable sharp curves, finally twisting into a double bow-knot
and, extricating itself, continues winding its way up, stopping a few
moments at West Point, where passengers for Bolinas take the stage.
Arriving at the railroad’s destination, the Tavern, the passengers
alight to luncheon in its well-appointed dining-room, or lounge on the
spacious veranda, enjoying at ease the superb views revealed below.
But if the traveller be something of a pedestrian he will take the
zigzag, cleated steps which lead from the Tavern to the top.
Here the San Francisco Examiner’s Marine Observatory is located, whose
telescope is said to sight ships seventy miles at sea.
[Illustration: The Mountain Train.]
But this is not the only walk on the Mountain. Many trails wind
about its sides disclosing shady nooks, a delightful cool spring and
countless other surprises, which are easily reached owing to the
guidance of artistic little signs which appear at short distances
apart, while location rods are placed at intervals on the path circling
the Mountain, enabling the visitor to find the various points of
interest without any difficulty.
[Illustration: Through the Redwoods.]
A few hundred feet from the Tavern is located a Government Weather
Bureau, and in its proximity is to be placed the seismograph now being
made in Strasburg, Germany, by order of the Weather Bureau Department
in Washington. The instrument is said to be on a more elaborate plan
than any in this country except the one in Washington, D. C., of which
this will be a counterpart. Some time is required for its completion,
so, presumably it will not be installed and ready to receive
earthquakes until early next year.
[Illustration: Turning Innumerable Curves.]
Descending the mountain on the train to West Point, we alighted and
after lunching at the Inn, mounted the stage which was bound for
The air on these mountain slopes is most exhilarating, and as we sped
along down the gradually descending roadway, the breath of azaleas was
wafted on the breeze from the canyons, while at each bend of the road
the salt zephyrs from the Ocean became more perceptible.
[Illustration: From the Crest of Mt. Tamalpais.]
Leaving the Monarch of Marin we soon came in sight of the white
sand-spit with Dipsea, the new resort on the beach, and the glorious
Pacific stretching thousands of miles beyond the horizon.
[Illustration: The Tavern.]
Alighting from the stage we embarked in a steam-launch which glided
rapidly across the Bolinas Lagoon. Steep, massive hills encircle the
Lagoon on the right, while on the left, becoming more apparent at each
glide of the launch, lies Bolinas, the town, and our destination.
[Illustration: The Marine Observatory.]
Owing to its small size and remote location we expected the usual
hardships which accrue from a country hotel and its numerous
incongruities; imagine our surprise therefore, when arriving at this
little town, which is a stranger as yet to railroads, to find a cozy
hostelry awaiting us.
Though unpretentious in appearance, the Flag Staff Inn proved as
orderly and neat as any of its English prototypes. Whether it was due
to the landlord’s being a Briton or not, I can not say, but there was
undoubtedly an English atmosphere about the place, and if honest Mrs.
Lupin or Mark Tapley had issued from the porch to welcome us, I should
not have been in the least surprised.
West of the little settlement of Bolinas a neck of land extends for
a mile and a half out into the Ocean, the top forming a mesa. Owing
to the fogs abounding in this region, it is green almost the entire
year and makes splendid grazing, as in fact does all the land in the
[Illustration: The Bow-Knot.]
At the end of the mesa, some oil prospecting was being done, and at the
time of our visit there was one shaft sunk. Although there are numerous
deposits of oil to be found in and about these cliffs, the output thus
far has not exceeded a barrel a day. Yet who can tell what rich veins
may lie beneath this mesa.
On Duxbury Reef, a succession of small rocks extending farther out into
the ocean, there is said to be found at low tide gas escaping from the
rocks, which, being ignited occasionally by fishermen, does not become
extinguished until the tide rises.
[Illustration: A Wireless Telegraph Station.]
At the other extremity of the town is to me the most interesting
section of Bolinas, for it was here that the first settlement was
made. The name Bolinas–then spelled Baulinas–is believed by some to
signify stormy and untamed, while others accredit it to be the name of
an Indian girl.
[Illustration: The Bolinas Stage.]
Which is correct may never be ascertained. Either is probable; owing
to its situation “stormy” may well apply, and as the Tamal Indians
formerly inhabited this region, and in fact spread over the entire
County, the last theory is equally feasible. To my mind they are both
correct, for might it not have been named for an Indian maiden called
Bolinas, whose nature was as stormy and untamed as the tempests which
often surge about these headlands?
[Illustration: Bolinas Bay.]
This Rancho Bolinas first belonged to Rafael Garcia, who disposed of
the grant to his brother-in-law, Gregorio Briones, of whom tradition
says there were few so honest, upright and brave as this dignified son
of Spain, who died respected and beloved by all who knew him.
It was in the days before the “Gringo” came, when peace and plenty
reigned throughout this land, and hospitality was proverbial to every
household, that Gregorio Briones settled in Bolinas.
[Illustration: A Glimpse of Bolinas.]
To be a skillful horseman and expert vaquero was all that was then
required, for as cattle could live and thrive all the year round on
the hills, there was no necessity for making hay for winter feed, or
building stables for winter shelter; therefore, with little labor
requisite, the natural consequence was the easy, careless life
led by the Californians. Thus their spare energies were devoted to
horse-racing, dancing, gambling, and kindred amusements.
Horses roamed the hills untethered and a caballero’s first occupation
in the morning was to catch a horse, saddle and bridle it, and either
use or keep it tied up at his door during the day, ready for use at any
moment, as both young and old rarely went from one house to another, no
matter how short the distance, except on horseback.
[Illustration: Flag Staff Inn.]
As to the riders themselves, there were probably no better horsemen in
the world than the native Californians.
On a fair spring morning in the month of May, 1850, a single horse,
with two riders, might have been seen threading its way up the steep
mountain trail leading from Bolinas to San Rafael. The bright, girlish
face of the first rider peered wistfully from beneath the soft folds
of her mantilla, while the young caballero, on the crupper behind,
whispered to her in those sweet, melodious tones unheard save from
a liquid Spanish tongue. Of the purport of their whispers we can but
judge, for on arriving at the Mission they were greeted by a joyous
peal of wedding bells.
The groom was Francisco Sebrean, the bride the beautiful Senorita
Maria Briones, daughter of the pioneer. This was the first marriage in
Bolinas and the celebration which followed their return to the Rancho
was the most notable ever witnessed in that region. Dancing, feasting,
music and gayety continued until the gray dawn appeared to touch the
surrounding hilltops and proclaim the approach of another day.
[Illustration: Sand Dunes.]
[Illustration: The Breakers.]
Stopping at the home of the only remaining daughter of Don Briones,
now a dignified, delightful, old lady, with the charming manners and
graces of a true descendant of old Spain, we procured directions and
soon found the oldest house in Bolinas. Although this was not the first
built there, it is the oldest standing, and was occupied by the Briones
family, Don Gregorio dying many years ago, while his wife, the Senora
Briones, lived there until 1903, reaching her one hundred and seventh
birthday–which goes to prove that it is the simple, natural life which
begets old age.