Bolinas and Dogtown

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolinas Lagoon

Bolinas Lagoon is the core of local human history, it is home to billions of organisms from microscopic to harbor seals, and an essential resource to countless generations of migrating birds. But before the arrival of Russians hunters, and Europeans and Yankee settlers, almost unimaginable numbers of animals, insects, birds and fish inhabited this primeval landscape. Native Americans lived at Bolinas for perhaps 2000 years, as equal members of a complex web of life centered around the lagoon.

Bolinas Lagoon is created by San Andreas Fault, the seam between continental North America and the geologic island of Point Reyes Peninsula. It is a remarkable confluence of unobstructed watershed, fertile land and the upwelling-enriched Pacific Ocean. Occasional earthquakes and the scouring of a robust tidal prism kept this lagoon/estuary vibrant for some 7000 years. Yet, in less than 180 years, since the introduction of agriculture and livestock about 1834, followed by logging, humans have radically impacted the lagoon’s health.

By 1852 human-caused erosion allowed winter rains to wash heavy loads of sediment into the lagoon, and began affecting boat traffic and the lagoon’s natural system. Since the 1870s, landfill for building and repairing a tide-resistant road around the lagoon, housing development, non-native plants, garbage dumps, pollution, and loss of habitat have further exacerbated the problems.

Marin County’s vigorous environmental preservation movement began in the 1930s. When a yacht harbor with hotels and casinos was proposed for the Lagoon in the 1960s, public activism saved it. Since then, concerned citizens and scientists have been intensely searching for how we can help the health of this important and complex ecosystem.

 

In the 1980s, citizen groups like Bolinas Lagoon Technical Advisory committee, the Bolinas Lagoon Foundation and its ad hoc Committee to Save Bolinas Lagoon, caught the attention of national and international entities that began to recognize its importance. In 1997 the lagoon was designated a State and National Treasure, and in 1998 it was recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.

 

These designations brought long awaited federal support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who studied the lagoon, and in 2002 released a draft study proposing removal of 1.4 million ft³ of sediment. Alarmed by the impacts dredging would cause to established habitat, and opposition to what many saw as a short-term fix, public outcry spawned a Marin County review of the study and a new process for developing science-based community supported initiatives to restore and manage the lagoon.

 

In 2008 the Locally Preferred Plan was released and today guides Marin County and its partners toward multi-beneficial efforts that encourage natural recovery from human-caused impacts, and facilitates adaptation to future changes. Climate change threatens impact from increased storms, flooding and erosion, so projects that instill resilience are crucial.

 

Today several initiatives from the Locally Preferred Plan are actively addressing invasive species removal, sediment and water movement, flooding, and water quality among other issues. Projects like the Kent Island Restoration Project, and the European Green Crab Removal Project implemented by local volunteers and school groups, embody the importance of human action, not just to remedy impacts but to prevent them. Other projects like the upcoming North End Restoration Project involving road redesign and enhanced wetland habitat will provide ecological benefits, sea level rise adaptation measures, and improve transportation and public safety.

 

Although the lagoon will never return to the ecological oasis it once was, residents are establishing stewardship of the environment they call home. Humans are partnering with nature and are committed to removing obstacles from the natural system that will contribute to aid the Bolinas Lagoon’s healthy future.

 

Article co-authored by

Kate Bimrose

Resource Protection Specialist, Bolinas Lagoon

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

 

and

 

Elia Haworth

Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History

Bolinas Museum

 

The Lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore

On The Way To The Lighthouse

By Mary Olsen

Most visitors to the Point Reyes National Seashore head to the Lighthouse. The roundtrip can be made in as little as two and a half hours, but there is so much to do on the way that it can easily be stretched to a pleasant all day trip. Although it is only about 17 miles to the very end of the road, the speed limit is 40 miles per hour (unless otherwise posted) and the road is narrow and twisty in parts.

The area is intensely patrolled and tickets are issued, so be advised. The road is rough and rife with potholes. However, the intrepid will be rewarded with stupendous views of the countryside and the coastline. The very lucky may also see a bobcat, a fox, Tule Elk or even, possibly, a mountain lion. Elephant seals and sea lions are always on the agenda and bird lovers are sure to spot raptors and ospreys or any one of the thousands of species that soar the skies of this wild landscape.

And there is plenty to please history buffs and day hikers as well. In short, it’s sure to be a day that will delight the entire family – that is, IF the weather cooperates. Rain or coastal fog could be a spoiler although hardy romantics may enjoy the moody gloom. Be sure to bring warm jackets, sturdy shoes, water, snacks and binoculars.

 

The lighthouse is the terminus of the 40 mile Sir Francis Drake Boulevard which begins in San Rafael. The road is named for the infamous pirate -or English explorer, depending on the historical perspective, who is said to have landed at Drakes Bay in 1579.

It is believed that Drake made contact with the Coastal Miwoks who may already have been here for more than 5,000 years at that time.

The next to arrive were the Spanish Missionaries, followed by settlers who came after the US annexed California in 1848.

 

After entering the National Seashore you’ll notice Park signs designating The Alphabet Ranches, as they are known. After a messy lawsuit in 1857 lawyers divided the ranch lands of the Pt. Reyes peninsula into leased parcels and gave each a letter name, the exceptions being the ranches given more poetic names by one of the lawyers, such as Drakes Head, Muddy Hollow, Oporto and Sunnyside.

Read the fascinating history of ranching on the peninsula on the park’s website: www.nps.gov.

 

To get a great perspective of the Park, climb the road to the top of Mount Vision. Look for the small brown sign on your left just inside the park boundary. (See “The Grandest View in West Marin” just a few pages away.)

 

Next along the route notice the small brown sign “Drake’s Estero”. Until recently the sign read “Drakes Bay Oyster Company”. A long battle between the aquaculture operation and the Park Service was won by the latter. The road out to the kayak put-in spot is made of crushed oyster shells, now taking on a new and ironic meaning.

 

For a not-too-strenuous short hike, turn at the small sign, “The Estero Trail”. It’s just four miles out and back and offers some excellent birdwatching. A Christmas tree farm of long ago has grown into a little forest where beautiful egrets make their nests. Just beyond is a wooden bridge with some built in benches that makes a lovely spot to rest and look for leopard sharks in the water below.

The trail ends a short distance later with a pleasant view of the Estero – the Spanish word for estuary – a place where fresh and salt water meet.

 

The next interesting stopping point along the Boulevard is the historic RCA building.This is the site of a Marconi era (Morse code) ship to shore communication station. To get to the 1929 Art Deco building drive through the Monterey cypress tree tunnel. This tunnel has suddenly become a popular site due to its similarity to The Dark Hedges tree tunnel (near Armoy in County Antrim, No. Ireland) made famous in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.

Keith Hansen-Wildlife Artist, Bolinas

BirdsOfSierraDShansen1

http://keithhansen.com

Call Now to Order! : 415-868-0402

I am a wildlife artist who specializes in the inspirational and accurate portrayal of birds. I was raised in a family of artists and lovers of all things natural. This combination of creativity and care for our natural world has hopefully become manifest in my works and images. If you are interested in learning more about how I first got inspired to look at and then begin illustrating birds, go to my website.

Please feel free to stop by the gallery for current art projects, images, prints, and more. Available on the site you will find limited edition, numbered and signed giclee prints from Birds of the Sierra authored by Edward Pandolfino and Edward Beedy.  You are welcome to visit the gallery in Bolinas.

Two Silos in Tomales

Diekmann's

Diekmann’s General Store, Tomales.

 

The building that now houses Diekmann’s General Store, built in 1867, was, in its earliest years, Newburgh & Kahn’s, whose stock included groceries, dry goods, hardware, clothes, hay and grain, coal, gun powder, lumber, wallpaper, and furnishings. After three more owners Walter Diekmann purchased the business in 1948.

One of the four Diekmann brothers to make a mark on the North Bay grocery business (older brother William owned the 405 Market in Santa Rosa, Herman operated Diekmann’s Bay Store in Bodega Bay, and Ed Diekmann would later be proprietor of Valley of the Moon Market in Glen Ellen), Walt Diekmann was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Iowa. He and Mildred Bartels had been married less than two years, and had a new baby boy named Billy, when a phone call came from the older brother, William, bringing a message echoing countless others that had been crossing the country for a hundred years: “there’s money to be made in California!”

After an investigatory trip to look over a Tomales general store that was for sale, Diekmann returned to Iowa, where he and Mildred auctioned most of their household goods , packed the rest in a tiny, one-wheeled trailer, and set off with 1 ½ year-old Bill for California. The Diekmann family eventually included three children, Bill, Mark and Kristin, and even after Mildred’s sad and unexpected death-Kristin was only two years old-Walt managed, with help from relatives and neighbors, to raise the kids and work 6 and a half days a week. As the children grew they took part in the business, absorbing the finer points of small town storekeeping along the way.

Everyone, it seems, has memories of Diekmann’s General Store: the ice water-filled, lidded barrel with bottles of soft drinks inside, the post office at the rear of the store, and the well-filled comic book rack at the front corner, where the patient proprietor put up with the frequent reading-and not so frequent buying-of local kids.

After Walt Diekmann died in 1972, Bill and Kristin took over the business (which they sold, while maintaining ownership of the building, in 2000). In the late ‘70’s Bill oversaw the rehabilitation of the venerable building, which included restoration of some original cabinetry and other interior details. The store, a focal point of the village’s commercial district, has deservedly become a beloved icon of Tomales. Kristin now runs the Two Silos Mercantile on the second floor which offers antiques, consignment and selected seconds merchandise.

Excerpted with permission, from the Tomales Regional History Center Bulletin, October 2006. Editor Ginny Magan