October, 2005

Have you seen the pot hole on Montford about 100 feet before the stop sign at Melrose? There’s usually water flowing out of it. Public Works periodically fills it in. Even so, the water keeps coming up, all year round. After hitting the pot hole, drivers ask, “Why doesn’t MMWD fix that leak?” MMWD analyzed the water and found no chlorine in it. It’s a natural spring.

There used to be many springs on the slopes of Homestead Valley. Most are gone, but a few that still flow all year-round can be found on each side of the valley: in front of 212 Reed; at the base of the slope across from 646 Ridgewood; several on open space lands above 361 Ridgewood.

In the early days, a few Homestead Valley residents tapped springs for their water supply. Three documented examples from the first decade of the 20th century are Alexander Eells on LaVerne, Fred Stolte and Three Groves on Montford and John Dias on Ridgewood. Homes and summer cottages in the bottom of the valley often had wells. In 1905 a few folks in that area accepted the Water Company’s offer to supply water, but many refused the offer because they were happy to have free water from their own well.

In later years, more and more residents signed up for water supplied by a public utility. MMWD was formed in 1912 to supply water throughout southern Marin. Yet, even in the 1920s some Homestead homes used water from springs or wells.

What about the water coming out of the pot hole on Montford near Melrose? Where is the source? The adjacent property on the up hill side of Montford is the site of the first Homestead School, which was constructed in 1907 and opened for classes in January 1908. This item on page 1 of the Mill Valley Independent, Feb. 29, 1908 seems relevant: “Working men in the Homestead School struck a fine spring on the lot the other day. They think it could supply many families.” [The diary of Alexander Eells records that he spent three Saturdays working on the schoolhouse fence at that time – ed.]

So the next time the left wheels of your car hit that pot hole, think about the Schoolhouse spring discovered in February 1908. It is still flowing.

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.