Marin Independent Journal
May 28, 2018
The West Point Inn was built in 1904 by the Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway. (Courtesy of Marin History Museum)
Posted in the Marin IJ: 05/28/18Sitting high up Mount Tamalpais with majestic views of the Bay Area, the West Point Inn has been a destination for hikers, picnickers, nature lovers, bicyclists and overnight guests for 113 years. The Inn was built in 1904 by the Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway as the western most terminus of their famed “Crookedest Railway in the World.” From there, tourists could take a stagecoach to Willow Camp, now Stinson Beach, and the town of Bolinas.
In the early days of the railroad, San Francisco visitors could board the Sausalito ferry at the foot of Market Street, transfer to the northern line of the railway, disembark at Mill Valley and take the gravity train up Mt. Tam to the Inn in less than two hours. The train carried visitors up the mountain for 25 years until ridership dropped drastically because of improvements in roads and the preference of travelers to hop in their own automobiles and drive themselves.
The Inn was threatened by wildfires repeatedly in the first few decades of its existence, its roof catching fire in one particularly devastating blaze in the 1920s. On another occasion in the 1930s overnight guests were snowed in at the Inn and a rescue effort was mustered to plow the road and bring them off the mountain.
After the railroad abandoned the site in 1929, the Inn was acquired by the Marin Municipal Water District and has since been run by volunteers of the West Point Inn Association, who still operate it as a rustic, overnight hotel. It has five cabins and seven rooms for overnight lodging; guests must bring their own food, towels and blankets or sleeping bags. The Inn also serves a popular pancake breakfast one Sunday a month from April to October.