Tamalpais Tavern Rises from the Ashes

by Laurie Thompson, December 29, 2015

The new Tavern on Mt. Tamalpais which opened in 1924. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection

On June 30, 1923, the beloved Tavern at the top of Tamalpais’ East Peak burned to the ground, consumed by a fire that had started in the kitchen. The Tavern had been built by the Scenic Railway as the “crown jewel” and the culmination of the ride from Mill Valley to the top of Mt. Tam.

Interior of New Tavern on Mt. Tamalpais, circa 1929. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection

Six months later, the Sausalito News of January 12, 1924 reported:

Architects Bliss and Faville of San Francisco are preparing plans for the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Mountain Railway for a new tavern to be erected on the summit of Mount Tamalpais to replace the tavern recently destroyed by fire. The new structure will be a one-story frame and steel building with tile roof. It will contain lounging rooms, dining rooms, restaurant and other conveniences for tourists. The estimated cost of the building is $80,000….

First Tavern of Mt. Tamalpais which opened in 1896. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection

Author Fred Runner (author of Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway) tells us that “a new Tavern, smaller and with no overnight accommodations, was built on the ruins [of the old tavern] and opened for business on Thanksgiving Day in 1924. A large open porch extended about as far as the porch of the old Tavern, allowing people to enjoy the sun and the view. Trains and gravity cars departed from the same spot as before. The cement platform and railing next to the engine are still there today.”

We invite you to visit the Anne T. Kent California Room display cases at the Civic Center Library to view our display on the “crookedest railroad” featuring scale models of locomotives and gravity cars created by the late Michael Murray of Corte Madera.

Originally published at https://annetkent.kontribune.com.

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