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Then & Now: Snow on Mount Tam

On the heels of the largest snowfall in recent memory, we look back at a spectacular view of a snow-laden Sleeping Lady.

three weeks ago, and it was a quite a heavy dose of snowfall this time, with a storm dropping as many as and a .

Although it’s not common to see snow on Mount Tam, it's something we see every few years. The top of Mount Tam, where the observatory is, sits at 2,586 feet, while the West Ridge, where the Air Force base once was, is at 2,604 feet. In most cases, the snow melts by midday, but on a rare cold storm, we’ll see the snow on the mountain for the better part of the day, and it invites explorers to the top and backside of the mountain to enjoy the Marin winter wonderland.

One of the biggest storms recorded to date took place in January of 1922. As Barry Spitz notes in his book, Mill Valley: The Early Years, six inches fell in that storm. It was the only time the Mt. Tam Railway needed to remove snow from the tracks.

In this week's Then photo, you'll see Tam High in the foreground looking much different than its present day incarnation. The clock tower was added in 1947 as a tribute to students from Tam who lost their lives fighting in World War II. Their names are on a plaque at the base of the clock tower at school. To the left of the main building (Wood Hall) where the clock tower sits is Hoetger Hall, and to the left of that now sits the rebuilt Keyser Hall. In this 1922 photo, Keyser Hall was not yet built.

For an additional look at the 1922 photos of snow on Mount Tam, check out the book by Ted Wurm and Al Graves, The Crookedest Railroad in the World. There are three photos of snow at the top of the mountain that appeared to be a couple of feet deep.

Lou Judson March 10, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Say - if the clock tower was added n 1947, how is it that it is there in the 1922 photo? and, call me persnickety, but it would be very cool if the modern photo could have matched the angle, lens length, and lighting of the '22 one. A most unusual angle, bringing the mountain right up behind the buildings! Nice. Lou

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