In 1906, the Tamalpais Union High School District was formed by the union of the Sausalito and Mill Valley Elementary School Districts. A train stop platform was built in conjunction with construction of the school.
Train service began on August 8, 1908, two days after the school’s first day. The 8:17 am train from Sausalito and the 8:45 am train from Mill Valley stopped at the school as did the first trains after 3 pm in both directions. Homestead kids probably walked even though the Locust station was one stop from the school.
The board of trustees initially hired principal/teacher, Mr. E.E. Wood, and three other teachers: Elizabeth Keyser (English, Commercial), Grace Pack (Science) and Shone Kurlandzk (French, German, Latin). In April 1909, John D. Saxe of Homestead Valley was elected to the Board of Trustees. In 1911 Saxe was reelected and praised for his work in obtaining overwhelming voter approval of a $35,000 bond issue. The school expanded rapidly under the excellent management of principal Wood. By 1917 there were 330 students, 9 departments, 30 courses and 17 teachers.
Boyd Stewart, born in 1903, lived with his parents and younger sister on the 500-acre Stewart Dairy Ranch in Nicasio. He attended Tam High from 1918 to 1922. His commute was unique. He rode a horse five miles to San Geronimo to catch the 6:00 am steam train to Manor where he transferred to the electric train for Sausalito. He got off at Almonte and walked up the County Road to Tam High. The return trip brought him back to San Geronimo at 6:30 pm for the five-mile horseback ride home.
In 1921, the state passed a law mandating elementary school districts to tie with a high school. At that time, students in the following elementary school districts attended San Rafael High School: San Anselmo, Fairfax, Ross, Kentfield, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Belvedere, Tiburon, Bolinas and Stinson Beach. Citizens in the Ross Valley school districts voted, mostly by overwhelming majorities, to tie with the Tamalpais Union High School District rather than with the San Rafael High School District. As a result, in 1923, Tam High underwent a large expansion in both its student body and its tax assessment base. “The Special”, a five-car school train picked up students from Manor in Fairfax through the Ross Valley to Corte Madera. Two cars were for boys, two cars were for girls and one car was co-ed. It went through the tunnel in Corte Madera to Mill Valley Junction and backed into the new Tam High stop next to the gym which had been built in 1923. Busses brought students from Belvedere/Tiburon and from Bolinas/Stinson Beach. By 1926, there were 952 students, 15 departments, 98 courses and 47 teachers.
A second abnormal enrollment expansion occurred in the 1940s when the war effort brought thousands of workers to Marinship in Sausalito.
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.