Old photos of Homestead Valley are rare. Mary and Tony Brabo have had a masterpiece in their album since 1947 when an early Homestead resident presented it to them. In the fall of 1907 Harry Wilhelm took a photo of the view from his house on Ridgewood. He aimed the camera at the Alto power station 1.2 miles away on the other side of the marsh, and captured a magnificent view of Homestead Valley showing about a dozen houses, five roads, two railroad lines and even a windmill.
In August 1903, the railroad from Sausalito to Mill Valley was electrified. A 150-mile high-voltage transmission line (the longest at that time) connected the hydroelectric power plant at Colgate Dam on the Yuba River to the Alto power station where three-phase 50,000 volt alternating current was stepped down and rectified to 600-volt direct current for access by trains via a third rail. The Alto power station was located at the edge of the marsh below Enchanted Knolls. The buildings were demolished in the 1960’s.
Mary Brabo, who has lived in Homestead since her birth in 1910, identified several houses in the photo, For example, in the foreground at the corner of LaVerne and Melrose is the Worley house, long since demolished. The adjacent 25-acre Worley Tract was subdivided in 1909.
Several houses in the photo still exist:
1. The Dowdell house on the corner of Lillian Lane and Montford. Built in 1905, the house later belonged to Charles Mott and his wife, Lillian Dowdell, for whom Lillian Lane is named.
2. The Heckman house on the corner of Linden Lane and Ethel, built by Herman Heckman in 1904 on the site of The Homestead.
3. The large house on the corner of Linden Lane and Evergreen.
4. The Robertson house on Robertson Terrace and their barn on Molino.
5. Twin summer cabins on Evergreen, later connected to make a house.
Visible roads are Avery (now Melrose), Ferndale, LaVerne, Evergreen and Scott. The landscape is for the most part devoid of trees, except along Reed Creek which is lined with mature trees.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.