Vignette > Alto Death Trap

1899 Map – click to enlarge

In 1907, Alto made the news. Close to the railway stop the County Road to San Rafael passed through a narrow tunnel below the railway tracks. The Mill Valley Record reported, “The tunnel is a veritable death trap and an actual wonder that only one person has been killed there.  Why the railroad company should have ever been allowed to put a twelve-foot tunnel at the end of a dangerous curve on a forty-foot road is a mystery. With the continually increasing travel on this road, and the big increase in the number of automobiles, it is an extremely dangerous spot for drivers of vehicles. This fact has been repeatedly brought to the attention of the Supervisors, and a petition was signed by a large number of voters and property owners in Southern Marin.”  The County ignored the petition and nothing was done for more than a year. Finally, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad began work on widening the dangerous road crossing under the tracks at Alto. The Mill Valley Record reported, “Within a short time those who drive or motor on the San Rafael County Road may do so without being in danger of their lives at this spot.”