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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.

First Wednesday Event for Dec. 2016 – Man vs Nature

man-vs-nature-clip
Alex Kenin

Wednesday, Dec. 7
7 PM,  Mill Valley Library  

If you’ve hiked in San Francisco, you may have enjoyed the dense forests of the Presidio, Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve, or Mt. Davidson. Or you may have relaxed along the plentiful lakes found throughout Golden Gate Park. But what you may not realize as you explore the city’s 70 miles of trails is that much of what you’re seeing is non-native-or even manmade.

Ever since the Spanish arrived in Yerba Buena in the late 1700s, the area has undergone a transformation from its native sand dunes, coastal scrub, grasslands, oak woodlands, and lakes and creeks. Today, it is thought that 40% of the flora in San Francisco are non-native.

Alex will discuss some of the major changes to San Francisco’s natural areas and the people who drove these changes including the US Army, John McLaren, and Adolph Sutro. She’ll discuss a few success stories for habitat restoration, and a few places where you can still see San Francisco’s landscape in its original state. And why no San Francisco hiking guide is complete without including Mt Tamalpais.

 Registration highly recommended. Click here to register.


About Alex Kenin

I’m Alexandra Kenin and I’m the founder of Urban Hiker SF. Originally from New Jersey, I’ve lived up and down the East Coast in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. While living in New York in 2004, I took a vacation to San Francisco and realized I didn’t want to come home.

It took three years, but I finally moved to San Francisco in 2007. When I bought my one-way ticket out west, my father bought me a copy of Adah Bakalinsky’s Stairway Walks in San Francisco. At the time, I was a marketing manager at Google and would commute up to three hours a day. On weekends, inspired by the Stairway Walks book, I would take off to explore my new home on foot. One fateful day, a native San Franciscan friend brought me on a walk to the Embarcadero via the Vallejo and Filbert Street Steps. I loved the views from by the stairways, I loved the exercise I got from climbing them, and I loved how they seemed to be a secret to most. From that moment on, I was hooked on urban hiking.

Since then, I have fallen into an entire band of urban hiking enthusiasts. A group of us now goes on monthly day hikes – up to 30 miles in distance. We love finding new secret spots in the city and now I want to share our findings with you!

First Wednesday Event for November: Mt Tamalpais: Inspiration for action and art

gary-yost-1st-wed-11-2016
The Mill Valley Historical Society’s November 2ndevent is about Mt. Tam’s place in our community as a creative force, told through a story of connection and how Gary Yost has been introduced by the mountain to many creative friends along the way.  It’s a story that starts with Gary’s work on the East Peak as a fire lookout and how that led to his creation of the “West Peak Trilogy” — collaborating with Miwok artist Sky Road Webb and activist Peter Coyote on the film “The Invisible Peak”, street-painting artist Genna Panzarella (“Mountains Made of Chalk Fall into the Sea”) and musicians Jimmy Dillon and Lorin Rowan (“Song of the Last Place”).  Gary will take us on a guided tour, showing how those collaborations have been synergistic, leading to unexpected creations.   Gary will present the West Peak interactive timeline encompassing the full history of that forgotten 106 acres on the summit of Mt. Tam and he’ll bring us up to date on the very real restoration work going on at West Peak right now.

This special evening will feature Gary, Sky Road, Genna, Jimmy and Lorin sharing their thoughts, playing music inspired by the mountain and leading all of us in Miwok songs, accessing the pure spiritual energy that Mt. Tamalpais makes available to each of us in every moment. Registration recommended. Click here to register.


Gary Yost is a filmmaker, photographer, and 20-year resident of Mill Valley who focuses on telling stories about the interesting people and places where he lives.  He  has been using photography and technology to tell complex stories for a long time.  As the leader of the team that created Autodesk 3DS Max, he gave millions of people 3D modeling and animation tools, enabling them to use computers to visualize anything they could think of…. and a lot of those things were too large, too small, too fast or too slow to show with conventional video or photography.  These days, Yost spends much of his time on the West Peak of Mt. Tamalpais, donating his skills to the Marin Municipal Water District and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy supporting the restoration of the 106 acres on the mountain’s true summit.  

MVHS Annual Membership Dinner

MVHS 39th Annual Members’ Meeting
and Potluck Dinner

Featuring Guest Speaker Barry Spitz

barry-spitz

We are pleased to once again welcome Barry Spitz as the evening’s speaker.  His topic will be “How We Got to Own the Mountain,” based on his 2012 book on the subject.  “It is the story of how Mt. Tamalpais was changed from 100% private ownership in 1900 to essentially all public land during the 20th century”, says Barry.


Thursday Oct. 20, 2016

Mill Valley Community Center

Social Hour- 6:00 PM
Meeting- 7:15 PM
Presentation – 7:30 PM

We appreciate your contributions (by last name) as follows:
A-H Dessert
I-Z Salad, Side, or Main Dish 

RSVP by Oct 13 to:
info@mvhistory.org or 415-388-1953