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Mount Tamalpais R.R.

SUMMARY This film shows the summit portion of the Mill Valley and Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway, the Tamalpais Tavern resort, and part of the adjacent east peak of Mount Tamalpais. The film was probably made in February 1898 at mid-morning. Mount Tamalpais is a prominent east-west ridge in southern Marin County, just north of San Francisco. The summit was a popular excursion destination for San Franciscans after the completion of the railroad in 1896. The 2,571-foot east peak commands a sweeping view of the entire San Francisco Bay area and most of central California. Part of the Pacific Ocean is also visible and, on clear days, the distant crest of the Sierra Nevada can be seen. The idea for building the Mill Valley and Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway was first developed by William Graves, president of the North Pacific Coast Railroad. The Kent and Emmett families backed the idea, with Sidney B. Cushing as president of the corporation. The completed railroad climbed 2,436 feet from the town of Mill Valley, nestled at the south foot of the mountain, to the east summit ridge. Covering 8.25 miles and with 281 curves (including a mid-elevation "double bow knot"), the line was christened "the crookedest railroad in the world." A spur line was built in 1907 from the "bow knot" to nearby Muir Woods redwood grove, where passenger-braked "gravity cars" were a popular later feature. Both lines closed in 1929 after a major fire and years of declining patronage. The Tamalpais Tavern resort and hotel - the first of three on the site - was built at the summit station in 1897. The bridge seen in the film linked the Tavern (right) with the dance hall to the west (left). The last building on the site of the Tavern, an army barracks, was removed in 1950. A typical Saturday excursion from San Francisco at the turn of the century included a ferry ride to Sausalito on the Marin shore and a train ride to Mill Valley. There passengers switched to the Tamalpais train, had lunch at the Tavern, and hiked to the summit of the east peak. The day ended with the return to San Francisco by trains and ferry. Today the old Tavern site is a picnic area, a parking lot and road occupy the dance hall and railroad station sites, and the old railroad grade is a fire break road and hiking trail. The summit ridge of Mount Tamalpais is within the boundaries of Mt. Tamalpais State Park (1948) but most of the mountain is Marin Municipal Water District land. A disused fire lookout occupies the east summit. OTHER TITLES Formerly erroneously titled: Mount Tamalpais R.R. no. 2 Mount Tamalpais Railroad. no. 1 Mt. Tamalpais Railroad. no. 1 CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1898. NOTES Copyright: Thomas A. Edison; 10Mar1898; 16437. Location: Marin County, California. SUBJECTS Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway. Narrow gauge railroads--California--Marin County. Tamalpais, Mount (Calif.) Railroad stations--California--Marin County. Hotels--California--Marin County. Marin County (Calif.) San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.) Actuality--Short. RELATED NAMES Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress) DIGITAL ID lcmp003 m3a33585
Length: 01:20


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