(US) Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad

Videos

West Peak Radio Station Incline

Google Maps

Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Today

Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad

Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway (1896 – 1930) was located in California on the north side of the Golden Gate.
Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway was a fantastic Gravity Railroad!
A Gravity Railroad is a natural Roller Coaster… passenger carriages which was pushed to the top of the Mount Tamalpais mountain and then the carriages were dropped on the descending slope… moving with only the gravity and only a brake to control the speed!
I am so fascinated about this kind of railway… a natural Roller Coaster!

Le chemin de fer Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway (1896 – 1930) était situé en Californie sur la rive nord du Golden Gate à côté de San Francisco.
Le Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway était un fantastique chemin de fer à gravité (Gravity Railroad)!
Un chemin de fer à gravité, c’était comme les Montagnes Russes mais dans la nature… des wagons de passagers étaient remontés au sommet du Mnt Tamalpais et de là elles étaient relâchées pour descendre de leurs propres poids dans la descente… avec juste un frein pour contrôler la vitesse!
J’ai toujours été fasciné par ce genre de chemin de fer qui a complètement disparu… des Montagnes Russes dans la nature!

Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad - today
Mount Tamalpais Gravity Railroad – today

 

Videos

March 10, 1898 films by Thomas Edison:

West Peak Radio Station Incline

Woman with milk cans on the West Peak radio Station Incline

 

West Peak Radio Station Incline
West Peak Radio Station Incline
West Peak Radio Station Incline
West Peak Radio Station Incline

Map

A – West Peak Radio Station Incline
In yellow color: the Gravity Railroad. En jaune, le tracé utilisé pour les Gravity Cars.
In red / En rouge: the West Peak Radio Station Incline.

Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mill Valley station
Mill Valley station

The “Mill Valley Station” photo actually shows a film crew, not just passengers, in gravity car no. 4. They are the Miles Brothers. This is when they had just finished shooting “A Trip Down Mt. Tamalpais”, in March 1906. Their next film “A Trip Down Market Street”, was shot a few days before the earthquake and fire leveled downtown San Francisco. The negative was on a train to New York when the earthquake struck. Historian David Kiehn’s painstaking research uncovered that story a few years ago. Morley Safer did the story for “60 Minutes”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYHGj19RrF0 — “Tamalpais” is briefly seen in a newspaper clipping in this piece. (Fred Runner)
A detached open air passenger car is on another track to the right of the train. Passenger cars from the Northwestern Pacific Railroad can be seen on the next track to the left of the photo in the shade behind the sheltering structure covering the passenger platform. The station, some houses on the hill and the top of Mount Tamalpais can be seen in the background…

Here below, part of the Miles Brothers film “A Trip Down Mt. Tamalpais”:

 

 

Mesa Junction

Mesa Junction

The morning train has arrived at Mesa Station, the Double Bow Knot, halfway to the summit of Mount Tamalpais. Here the passengers for Muir Woods changed to gravity cars, seen on the left, to be coasted down into Muir Woods while the train continued up the mountain. Engine No. 4, emanating steam, is at the far left of the photo near the water tank. The small tank car in back of the engine will be filled with water and hauled to the summit by the train. The open air passenger cars are filled with passengers. The gravity train cars to the lest of the photo are empty. The summit of Mount Tamalpais may be seen in the background.

Muir Woods Inn
Muir Woods Inn

Six guests are seated outside in the courtyard of the Muir Woods Inn. Three hotel staff members are standing in a door way. There is a small sign near the door that says “Cottages for Rent”. There are trees beyond the hotel.

 West Point Inn
West Point Inn

The West Point Inn shortly after its completion in 1904; Railroad passengers would disembark and take the Pipe Line trail to the left to the Mountain Theater; The Tamalpais Conservation Club guest registry is at the foot of the sone walkway.

Mount Tamalpais Tavern
Mount Tamalpais Tavern
Shay geared steam locomotive
Shay geared steam locomotive
Mount Tamalpais top station and Tavern
Mount Tamalpais top station and Tavern
Mount Tamalpais and Tavern
Mount Tamalpais and Tavern

(Photos Mill Valley Public Library and Alamedainfo and Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library)

Today

All the rails and tracks were completely and definitively removed in 1930 and converted in trails!
Toutes les voies et rails ont été complètement et définitivement enlevés en 1930 et les emplacements du chemin de fer convertis en pistes!

New Gravaity Car Barn

On May 3, 2009… it was the Grand Opening for the public of the new Gravity Car replica barn and Museum at East Peak  which is the Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway old top station.
The Barn will be the permanent home of the Gravity Car replica (N° 22) which is part of a was constructed by Jerry Coe in 1996. The Barn has been constructed over a section of the 84 feet of standard gauge track at the historic rail siding of the old top station.

Un nouveau hangar pour la voiture

Le 3 mai 2009, ce fut l’ouverture au public du nouveau hangar musée qui abrite la réplique d’une voiture de l’ancien chemin de fer gravitationnel Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway.
Le hangar a été construit à l’East Peak à l’emplacement exact de l’ancienne gare supérieure du chemin de fer. Il servira d’abri à la voiture (N°22) qui a été construite par  Jerry Coe en 1996. La voiture est posée sur une section de 25 mètres de voie ferrée à écartement standard.

(photo MoreMarin.com)
(photo MoreMarin.com)

16 thoughts on “(US) Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway”

  1. The first picture is interesting as it is taken down in Mill Valley, not in Muir Woods, as you can see by the dual-gauge track. Gravities didn’t run down here regularly with passengers, so it could be this is just a “promo shot” or a special ride. Note that normal steam trains didn’t just run the “green” part of the map, but also the yellow parts.

  2. Whats about the railroad today? Due to the satellite-photo it must be a fine bike-trail (with a quite smooth gradient – Or is it steeper than 6%)?

  3. Martin> All the rails and tracks were completely and definitively removed in 1930 and converted in car trails! Today I guess there is no problem to use the old tracks as bike-trail.

  4. First off these are great photos! Secondly I work for MArin Municipal Water District which manages most of Mt Tamalpais, and have been doing a lot of research lately into the history of Mt Tamalpais. I have a minor correction on the Funicular Railway.

    It was built around 1905 on the Middle Peak (not the West Peak), It was meant to service two 300ft tall wooden radio transmission towers. In 1906 though the Radio towers blew over in a storm. Not sure when the Funicular was retired from service though.

    The West Peak was undeveloped until 1950 when the Air Force took off the top 50ft of the West Peak. The West Peak was actually the tallest part of the Mountain before that. There was a shrine on the West Peak built by the TCC around 1918 to honor all those who died in World War I, which is now lost.

  5. My interest is in Mt. Tamalpais Tavern. Is there any pictures of the interior of the Tavern as my grandfather worked on it. I think he probably built the stair case as he traveled the West Coast during spiral staircases. He was well know in Pasadena as a builder of the Greene and Greene works, mainly the Gamble house.

  6. Just wanted to say I’m fortunate enough to live nearby and will say that the West Point Inn survived the dismantling of the railroad and still has guests stay overnight. The rooms are sparten but clean. I think it’s around $50 a night but you can find out for sure by visiting their website http://www.westpointInn.com ( I think – check with google). Also – the entire grade is now a fire road that is open to mountain bikers and hikers and there are a few bits and pieces of the old railroad lying around ( an old bridge in blithedale canyon amongst others). You can also (if you’re very observant) still find pieces of the old railroad ( things like broken spikes, bolts, etc) still emerge from the dirt after a good rain.

  7. The shrine on the West Peak was built by the California Alpine Club, not the TCC. It was dedicated in 1919.The plaque from the shrine is located at Alpine Lodge on

  8. Thank you for including images from the Anne T. Kent California Room Collection, Marin County Free Library. This photograph and additional images and information about the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, can be found on the California Room’s Digital Archive: http://contentdm.marinlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/mtmwrr.

    You can also view a video we created with footage compiled from film in our collection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8KlsOxpzAM

    Please note that we do require attribution when using items from our collection. Select images above are from the Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library.

  9. The “Mill Valley Station” photo actually shows a film crew, not just passengers, in gravity car no. 4. They are the Miles Brothers. This is when they had just finished shooting “A Trip Down Mt. Tamalpais”, in March 1906. Their next film “A Trip Down Market Street”, was shot a few days before the earthquake and fire leveled downtown San Francisco. The negative was on a train to New York when the earthquake struck. Historian David Kiehn’s painstaking research uncovered that story a few years ago. Morley Safer did the story for “60 Minutes”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYHGj19RrF0 — “Tamalpais” is briefly seen in a newspaper clipping in this piece.

    If possible could you send J. Gary Hal my e-mail address? I have 3 photos of the workmen who enlarged the Tavern in 1900. Perhaps his grandfather is among them. (One of the photos is in my book, “Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway”, page 81. Also Tavern interiors, pages 86 + 87. The link you have shows a different Tavern, built in 1924.)

  10. Thanks Fred for your comment.

    Thank you for your remark concerning the Miles Brothers team on the gravity car 4 and I will update the text concerning this photo.

    Concerning the film “A Trip Down Market Street”, of course I know the story of this great film. In 2010, I published a special post about it in my blog:
    http://www.funimag.com/photoblog/index.php/20101018/a-trip-down-market-street-before-the-fire/

    Concerning J. Gary Hal, no problem I will send him a message with your email.

  11. Hi there, I am working on a pro-bono advertising project for Mount Tamalpais and would love to use some of these photos for a Gravity Car “point of interest”. Is there someone I can reach out to for permission to use them? We will happily attribute to Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library.

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