The History of the Marshall Depot
The Northwestern Pacific Railroad lasted until 1930; now California’s Highway 1 travels much the same route
IN THIS CIRCA 1915 postcard, the gable-roofed building at the far left is the Northwestern Pacific Railroad’s Marshall depot, according to West Marin historian Dewey Livingston. Originally named the North Pacific Coast Railroad, the narrow-gauge (36 inches between rails) line ran from Sausalito through the Ross and San Geronimo valleys and then through Point Reyes Station, Marshall and Tomales, all in Marin County, before terminating at Cazadero, in Sonoma County north of the Russian River. The almost 60-mile line was completed in the late 1870s and carried passengers, lumber, dairy products and produce until it was abandoned, in sections, between 1930 and 1941.
Next to the depot, the tall white structure is the Shields General Merchandise store, which later became the Marshall Tavern. “That building is currently being worked on for a bed-and-breakfast,” says Terry Sawyer, co-founder and vice president of Hog Island Oyster Company. “Our popular Hog Island Oyster Farm is in the old Salmina General Store, which is the blurry building farthest to the right.” Today, California Highway 1 follows most of the course of the old railroad track, with Marshall located midway between Point Reyes Station and Tomales in West Marin.