Horse and Buggy Days


March, 2003

In his diary, Homestead resident Alexander Eells mentions how and where he traveled. His San Francisco law practice frequently took him by train to Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Willits. In 1909, he went to Yosemite for a Sierra Club outing. To get there, he boarded the 11 PM train from Oakland in a friend’s private car – John Muir traveled with him. They arrived at El Portal at 10:30 the next morning. In 1910, he took his family to Yosemite. The hired hand took the wagon, two horses and a pony on the Saturday night boat to Stockton. He then drove to Chinese Camp. On Tuesday, the family took the 9:45 AM train from Oakland, arriving in Chinese Camp at 4:30 PM. They spent all July driving to Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows and back to Chinese Camp.

Eells went everywhere by horse and buggy. On a Sunday in March 1908, in order to test out a new harness, he hitched up George and Pat together for the first time, and spent the day driving to Tiburon, California City (north of Tiburon on Paradise Drive-ed.) and Corte Madera. On subsequent Sundays he and his wife took several drives with the team, e.g., a tour to Greenbrae, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Ross and Corte Madera. In May, he took his wife and 10 year old daughter on a three-day trip to visit friends in Sonoma. They left at 8 AM Friday, stopped for a picnic lunch on the banks of a creek just south of Ignacio, and arrived in Petaluma at 4:10 PM, a 34-mile trip. They stayed at the New American hotel where they had three beds in two nice front rooms. Total cost was $4.50 including supper and breakfast. Stabling for the horses cost $1. At 8:30 Saturday morning they drove to Sonoma, arriving at 11:15. After lunching with their friends they left at 2:30, and were back in Petaluma at 3:30. The round trip had been 32 miles. Sunday morning they returned home, leaving at 8:30, stopping for lunch again in Ignacio, and arriving home at 3:30.

In August 1908 he took his 10-year old daughter on a three-week tour of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. They went in a horse cart to Inverness, Sebastopol, Ukiah, Willits, Laytonville, Garberville, Westport, Ft. Bragg, Pt. Arena, and Stewart’s Point. Then they left the coast and returned home by way of Cazadero, Guerneville, Sebastopol and Petaluma.

His diary mentions an automobile only once, and that was in conjunction with moving to Homestead Valley. In 1906, he hired a car and driver to take his family from their home on Haight Street to the ferry for Sausalito while San Francisco was still burning after the earthquake.

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.