Camping In Homestead


June, 2005

In 1904, a few of the first folks to buy lots in Homestead Valley camped out. In 1906, earthquake refugees arrived with their tents. Cottages and houses soon replaced these tents. However, in 1908, one developer had a different idea.

“Camping Lots at Camp Tamalpais, Locust Avenue Station, Mill Valley, Marin County. Come early if you want one of these lots. Our carriages meet all trains Sunday at Locust Avenue Station. On week days call at our office. Select your lot in advance.”

The above is part of a half-page ad that appeared in the Record-Enterprise on October 30, 1908. The ad implied that the camping lots cost $100 although a few lots would be sold for $75 as a promotion. Terms were 1/4 cash, balance $5 per month. For an additional $23, a buyer would be provided with a tent platform, a 10′ x 12′ tent and a folding cot, thus making the lot ready for camping.

The developer had subdivided an 11-acre tract into 137 tiny lots, many on steep slopes. The camp was across from Stolte Grove. It is now Tamalpais Canyon, a community of 25 homes secluded in the redwoods.

On November 6, 1908, the Record-Enterprise reported: “Sunday, November, 8th is the formal opening day for Camp Tamalpais, the pretty new subdivision in Homestead Valley which is being put on the market by J. Trewavas & Co. Already, a number of lots have been reserved and the probabilities are the Sunday sales will be heavy. Mr. Trewavas expects the lots to be used mainly for camping, and for this purpose the site is ideal. The tract is sheltered and heavily wooded, some of the trees being ten or twelve feet in diameter. The swimming pool which has been built in the center of the pretty little park is now completed. It is 25×30 feet, built of rock and cement, and is sure to afford many pleasant times to the dwellers of Camp Tamalpais.”

The Mill Valley area real estate market was quite active at the time. During the first week of May 1909, 6 Camp Tamalpais lots were purchased at prices ranging from $75 to $400. A few weeks later it was reported that 20 buyers were creating attractive tent houses, and three were actually in the process of building bungalows. So much for camping.

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.