Welcome to the Mill Valley Historical Society

The Old Mill, built by John Thomas Reed around 1836. MVN1328 – Courtesy of the Lucretia Little History Room, Mill Valley Public Library

This website serves to keep our members and visitors informed about the many activities as well as the extensive historical archives pertaining to and related to the history of Mill Valley, California.  If you are not already a member of the Mill Valley Historical Society, whether you live in the area or not we warmly encourage you to go to the BECOME A MEMBER page and see what a yearly bargain it is to join.
We invite all those with an affection for Mill Valley to join and learn about the charming history of this little historic town at the base of Mount Tamalpais. Check the CALENDAR for past and upcoming events and programs. See the news posts below for the latest historical news about Mill Valley and Southern Marin. You can search the posts by the keywords that are listed on the sidebar. And please consider making a DONATION in support of our mission. We hope you enjoy your stay at www.mvhistory.org.

40th Annual “Walk into History” – Mill Valley Days, Small Town Heros

Mill Valley Days…Small Town Heroes

The 2017 Walk into History is Sunday, May 28th.

This year we honor our history of community action that has “fueled” this town. We will learn the history of the Fire Department, make our way around the center of town and meet some amazing people who helped to make Mill Valley what it is today through their creative and generous actions. The walk begins at the famous Outdoor Art Club and ends at the Depot Clock Tower.

This year’s Walk is just a mile but with all the great stops will take around 2 hours. There are many interesting people, buildings and artifacts in this year’s Walk into History. Learn more about Mill Valley’s colorful past!

The Walk will mostly be on sidewalks and occasionally direct sun…please dress accordingly, consider wearing hats and bringing water.

Groups are led by trained volunteer Guides who are personable and take great interest in local history.

Tours leave every 15 minutes starting at 9:30am with the last tour leaving at 3:30pm.

MVHS Members – $15 | Non-members – $20 | Teens with student ID – $10 | Under 10 – FREE

Sorry… we can’t accommodate Strollers or Dogs

Reserve your place now! Register HERE and reserve your preferred time for free. Check-in 15 minutes before your Walk to purchase your tickets.

Groups are led by trained volunteer Guides who are personable and take great interest in local history.

MVHS First Wednesday Talk – The Crookedest Railroad in the World

From 1896 to 1930, Mill Valley was home to the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” when the Mt Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway carried passengers from downtown Mill Valley to Mt Tam’s picturesque east peak and into verdant Muir Woods.

Join us for an invigorating ride through Mill Valley’s unique past as author, historian, archivist, and scenic railroad enthusiast, Fred Runner, talks about the railroad and Howard Folker’s carefully hand crafted “1915” model of the Tamalpais (Shay) engine, now on display in the Mill Valley Library’s Lucretia Little History Room.

Howard Folker was a standout among dozens of employees. Smart, technically gifted and hardworking, Folker became the railroad’s youngest engineer. Over several years he built a 4-foot long, 80-pound 1/10th scale model of the engines that chugged up Mt. Tamalpais every day. 

Joining Fred are musical guests “Dore Coller and his Millbillies” to perform Dore’s new “hit” song, “The Old Railroad Grade”.

MVHS First Wednesday Event – Mill Valley Beat Poets and Authors

 “Mill Valley Beat Poets and Authors”

Locke McCorle and Al Young
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017
7 PM,  Mill Valley Library
Click here to register

In 1955, Locke McCorkle rented a piece of property for $25 dollars a month on a quiet street named Montford, in a sleepy suburban enclave called Mill Valley.  The property was primitive with two small, rustic houses that would become the nexus of gathering for Locke and his friends, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley and Philip Whalen.  This vanguard group of counter-culture thinkers pushed the social envelope of the day.  Kerouac actually used that envelope as scratch paper to write a book about friendship and Buddhism and hiking and he called that book, The Dharma Bums

Join longtime friends, author Locke McCorkle and poet Al Young, as they savor and explore this magical time in Mill Valley’s history when the Beat movement caught fire under redwood and eucalyptus trees in a mountain town just a stone’s throw from a busy urban area perched on the precipice of change. 

Locke McCorkle
Locke grew up in Eureka, California. After studying English and French at Humboldt State University, he moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley, but quickly changed course after hearing Alan Watts’ lectures on eastern spirituality.  This led Locke to the California Institute of Asian Studies where he studied Zen with Alan Watts, Sanskrit with Frederic Spiegelberg and Indian Philosophy with Haridas Chaudhuri.  Locke loved the new dimension these studies added to the culture he’d inherited.  During his time at the Institute he befriended the poet Gary Snyder, with whom he moved to Mill Valley in the late 1950s.  Through Snyder, Locke became acquainted with many of the Beats, including Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg.  Locke himself served as a model for one of the major characters in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel, The Dharma Bums.  Locke now lives in Palo Alto with his wife, writer Carole Simone, and their beloved, bearded collie, Rumi, but still counts Mill Valley as his favorite place to live.

Al Young
Born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the eldest of seven, Al Young is the author 25 books (poetry, fiction, essays and a memoir).  Published in Paris Review, Essence, The NY Times, and Ploughshares, Al served California as Poet Laureate 2005-2008.  

His honors include Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, as well as two Pushcart Prizes, two American Book Awards, the Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature, and the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Award.  He has written screenplays for Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor.  He has taught poetry, fiction writing and American literature at U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Davis, and many other distinguished universities across the country.  Al’s work is included in The Best American Poetry 2016.  He presently lives in Berkeley, California.