Mount Tamalpais, "the sleeping maiden"
by Brenda Grantland
I may be partial because I live here, but
I think Mount Tam is the most beautiful mountain in the world.
It's certainly the most beautiful mountain
I've ever seen in my life. I fell in love with it the first time
I saw it, when I came to San Francisco on vacation in 1989, and a friend
took me for a drive on route 1 from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. Before
the end of the day on my first day in California, I said to my friend -
"I have to live here. It's just too beautiful here to live somewhere else."
Three years later I moved here. Moving
to Marin was the best decision I ever made in my life.
The Sleeping Maiden
In all of the research I've done, I haven't
found the source of the folk lore surrounding Mt. Tam's alias "the Sleeping
Maiden." Could someone help us
In the two centuries before White Man "discovered"
the Bay Area, Mt. Tam was the home of the Miwok
Indians, who still have a tribe today, but no reservation or casino.
In 2000, they
had to fight to get reinstated as an officially recognized tribe after
the U.S. government denied them official tribe status because of dwindling
numbers. Currently, they are landless.
The Miwoks have lived in this area for
3,000 years. According to an early 20th Century account by E.S.
Curtis, the Miwoks of that time wore deerskin clothing, rarely engaged
in warfare except for occasionally assassinating people believed to be
sorcerers, and ate just about anything presented to them:
It is sometimes said that the
Miwok ate every species of living creature available to them, except the
skunk. The statement is not true. They regarded the skunk as excellent
food, and this opinion was shared by many other tribes, not all of whom
were inhabitants of California. Other animals not commonly used for food,
but eaten by the Miwok, were the bat and several species of snakes.
California cuisine, with its willingness to
experiment, probably traces its roots to the Miwok culture.
The former home of the "Crookedest Railroad
in the World"
From 1896 to 1930, the Mill
Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway carried tourists from the Mill
Valley Depot (now a restaurant and bookstore) up the steep and winding
mountain roads to Mt. Tam's East Peak. The Mt.
Tamalpais Interpretive Association adoringly describes the experience:
Traversing the double bow-knot,
locals and tourists alike delighted in
Remnants of this railroad can still be seen
old railroad grade remains a popular hiking trail, and the West Point
Inn has been restored, and may be rented for special events.
jaw-dropping vistas as they reached the
2,571 foot summit at East
Peak for a day of unparalleled sightseeing,
dinner at the Tavern of
Tamalpais and dancing in the Pavilion.
At day's end, the daring would
climb aboard the Gravity Car, and the
"Gravity Man" would "turn on
the gravity", and down they would coast
over 8 1/4 miles, around
281 turns on the mountain's 7% grade to
the Mill Valley depot or
Muir Woods. This was clearly the "E" ticket
ride of its day!
Plans are well underway to rebuild the
old Gravity Car Barn. Mt. Tamalpais Interpretive
Association has raised $100,000 toward the $250,000 needed to rebuild.
You can make a tax-deductible
donation to the project through the MTIA website.
TO BE CONTINUED ...
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