Trainspotting on Throckmorton

Until 1929, trains crossed Throckmorton Ave. and went through a gap in the businesses on their way to top of Mount Tam.

Picture this: You're behind the wheel of your automobile, likely a Model T, cruising through downtown Mill Valley along Throckmorton Ave. near . You are then stopped in your tracks to wait for a crossing train!

For about 30 years in downtown Mill Valley, train crossings happened all summer long and on weekends much of the rest of the year.

Most Mill Valley railroad aficionados know that trains not only came to downtown Mill Valley until 1941, but there was also a Mountain Railroad that went to the Top of Mount Tam from 1896 until 1929. It was the Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway - also known as the Crookedest Railroad in the World.

That train was different from the one that came to town from Sausalito, stopping at what is now the . One track over from that was the beginning of a train that pushed train cars up the mountain. Moments after the train left the train station, it would slowly cross Throckmorton Ave. and go through an open lot in what has long since been filled in as part of the Keystone building. 

This week's Then photo shows what the trains saw, as they left Mill Valley, on their way out of town and up the mountain. They crossed Throckmorton, went through a gap and come out on Lovell Avenue for a moment before following the path of what is now Corte Madera Avenue.

The subject of the Mountain Railway will be the topic for another Then and Now. But for today, know that this open gap, and the tracks crossing Throckmorton Avenue in , were part of downtown Mill Valley from 1896 until the train operation shut down, lifting the tracks in 1929.

Bruce Lowenthal April 22, 2013 at 05:24 PM
The electric railroad ended in 1941. Freight railroads continued into Mill Valley into the early 1950's. I remember seeing such a train at the "Train Depot", probably in 1952 or 1953. Bruce Lowenthal.


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