Depot Life

Early in the 20th century, this Mill Valley spot hosted both steam and electric-powered trains.

THIS IS DOWNTOWN Mill Valley looking up Miller Avenue toward Throckmorton Avenue around the year 1910. Doesn’t it look familiar? In the photo’s center is the Mill Valley train depot; now the Depot Bookstore and Cafe occupies that location. The tracks mid-photo belong to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad — note the “third rail,” which carried the 600-volt direct current that powered the cars running between Mill Valley and Sausalito (killing many a wandering canine). The tracks at right are for the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway, which transported tourists eightand- a-half miles to the top of Mount Tamalpais on what became known as “the World’s Crookedest Railway.” The MT&MWR’s steam-powered locomotive would push its cars up the hill to avoid breakaways, as well as to keep smoke and soot from raining down on passengers. The Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway lasted until 1930; the Northwestern Pacific Railroad ceased its electrical train operations out of Mill Valley on September 30, 1940.

Categories: Looking Back, Marin History