Abandoned Rails of

Marin County, California

This shows part of the Northwestern Pacific right-of-way that ha...
This shows part of the Northwestern Pacific right-of-way that has been converted to bike paths between the GreenBrae Larkspur depot and the ferry terminal at Tiburon where ferries would come in from San Francisco. This picture is looking north to the railroad bridge from the corner of Tamalpais Drive and San Clemente Drive. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, February 2008.
This is the railroad bridge (a bascule-type bridge) that goes ov...
This is the railroad bridge (a bascule-type bridge) that goes over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, taken from the sidewalk below, looking south. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, February 2008.
This shows the raised bascule span, taken from the closest vanta...
This shows the raised bascule span, taken from the closest vantage point afforded. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, February 2008.
This shows the raised drawbridge, taken from the closest vantage...
This shows the raised drawbridge, taken from the closest vantage point afforded. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, February 2008.
A view of the Northwest Pacific trestle and drawbridge in Greenb...
A view of the Northwest Pacific trestle and drawbridge in Greenbrae, from the other side of the harbor. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
Looking north towards the drawbridge from the beginning of the t...
Looking north towards the drawbridge from the beginning of the trestle. The condition of the wood wasn't too good, and there was considerable fire damage and insect degradation. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
Looking north on the Northwest Pacific tracks from the point whe...
Looking north on the Northwest Pacific tracks from the point where the line gets cut by a public works yard. In total the whole length left is only about 600 meters. This area is accessible from a trailer park right off US Route 101. The area is swampy and overgrown. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
This view can be seen from the other side of Drake Boulevard whe...
This view can be seen from the other side of Drake Boulevard where the existing tracks end. The right-of-way continues underneath a parking lot, then becomes very overgrown and impossible to walk; a path alongside offers access. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
This view is looking north toward the portal of Tunnel #3 and wa...
This view is looking north toward the portal of Tunnel #3 and was taken where the rail can last be seen underground. The hillside right behind the portal has caved in, probably due to a spring mudslide, and the tunnel entrance is completely covered. The date stamped at the top (the part with the graffiti) states 1924. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
The north side of the Tunnel #3. The photographer is standing on...
The north side of the Tunnel #3. The photographer is standing on the tracks to show their curvature upon exiting the tunnel. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
Looking north from the north end tunnel entrance, where the form...
Looking north from the north end tunnel entrance, where the former ROW runs on the property of a local company. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
A little further north from the tunnel where the bridge crosses ...
A little further north from the tunnel where the bridge crosses over Auburn Street in San Rafael, CA. Directly above is US Route 101. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
Looking north toward the pretty town of San Rafael from the Aubu...
Looking north toward the pretty town of San Rafael from the Auburn Street bridge. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, March 2008.
This is the northern portal for NWPRR's tunnel #4, just north of...
This is the northern portal for NWPRR's tunnel #4, just north of downtown San Rafael. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
This is from on top of the cut in the land looking down on the s...
This is from on top of the cut in the land looking down on the south portal of Tunnel #4. There are two dates stamped on the top of the portal: 1879 and 1959. The track continues south of the tunnel for about 500 yards or so, and abruptly ends due to new construction work on nearby US Route 101. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
An ancient telegraph pole, found near the south portal of Tunnel...
An ancient telegraph pole, found near the south portal of Tunnel #4. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
Looking north on a small spur in Larkspur, CA, at Creekside Driv...
Looking north on a small spur in Larkspur, CA, at Creekside Drive and Larkspur Plaza Drive. The line only went about 200 yards beyond, ending at the waterfront. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
Here is a shot looking north at William Avenue and Holcomb Avenu...
Here is a shot looking north at William Avenue and Holcomb Avenue in Baltimore Park, CA, south of the previous picture. The ROW has been converted into a very nice park/bike path. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
Looking north at where the line split, the left side is the spur...
Looking north at where the line split, the left side is the spur going up to Larkspur, the right heading off to the main line. A map says that this was the Baltimore Park stop, but there was no evidence of where a depot would have been, so it assumed to be a whistle stop. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
A cement bridge over the ROW about 200 yards south of the Baltim...
A cement bridge over the ROW about 200 yards south of the Baltimore Park stop looking north. Alexander Avenue goes over the bridge. Based on it condition, it looks to have been built in the 1910s or 20s. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
Looking south where the station used to be in the old downtown o...
Looking south where the station used to be in the old downtown of Corte Madera, CA. Now, a parking lot stands in its place. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
Tunnel #1 in Corte Madera (it was labeled as such on a railroad ...
Tunnel #1 in Corte Madera (it was labeled as such on a railroad map). Its northern portal has been blocked, but it still appears to be hollow. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
Tunnel #1 in Corte Madera (it was labeled as such on a railroad ...
Tunnel #1 in Corte Madera (it was labeled as such on a railroad map). Its northern portal has been blocked, but it still appears to be hollow. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
This is a bit of rail made into a fence on top of what used to b...
This is a bit of rail made into a fence on top of what used to be the south end of the Tunnel #1. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
South of Tunnel #1 is the bike path and former right-of-way whic...
South of Tunnel #1 is the bike path and former right-of-way which goes all the way into Sausalito, CA. The picture is looking south from Vasco Court. About 200 yards to the north, towards the tunnel, it becomes overgrown and muddy. There is no evidence of the southern portal of the tunnel today. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, July 2008.
The NWPRR crosses State Access Road as it skirts around Hamilton...
The NWPRR crosses State Access Road as it skirts around Hamilton Airfield, a former military base, in San Rafael. The crossing buck still stands among the bushes next to the crossing. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
This is the electrical box for the crossing in the previous pict...
This is the electrical box for the crossing in the previous picture. Note that it appears in good condition for not being used in a long time; curiously, it is not locked. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
The lone electrical pole next to the electrical box (barely visi...
The lone electrical pole next to the electrical box (barely visible in the bush). Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
Just to the north of the crossing in the previous pictures, this...
Just to the north of the crossing in the previous pictures, this small bridge can be found. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, September 2008.
The Northwest Pacific Railroad Baltimore Park Substation.
The Northwest Pacific Railroad Baltimore Park Substation. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, November 2008.
The Northwest Pacific Railroad Baltimore Park Substation.
The Northwest Pacific Railroad Baltimore Park Substation. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, November 2008.
A plaque indicating that the former railroad right-of-way is now...
A plaque indicating that the former railroad right-of-way is now a walking/bike trail. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, November 2008.
This is the base of the switching tower that served the split of...
This is the base of the switching tower that served the split of the line in this area. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, November 2008.
This is the base of the switching tower that served the split of...
This is the base of the switching tower that served the split of the line in this area. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere, November 2008.
This is the former NWPRR depot in Larkspur, CA, and is located o...
This is the former NWPRR depot in Larkspur, CA, and is located on the original North Pacific Coast Railroad narrow gauge line that ran from Sausalito to Cazadero. It is now a restaurant. Photo by Kent Madden, October 2008.
This is the former NWPRR depot in Larkspur, CA, and is located o...
This is the former NWPRR depot in Larkspur, CA, and is located on the original North Pacific Coast Railroad narrow gauge line that ran from Sausalito to Cazadero. It is now a restaurant. Photo by Kent Madden, October 2008.
This is all that remains of the south portal of Tunnel #1 on NWP...
This is all that remains of the south portal of Tunnel #1 on NWPRR's line, in Tiburon, CA. Built in 1955, its northern portal no longer exists. Photo by Kent Madden, February 2007.
The top of the remains of the southern portal for Tunnel #2 on t...
The top of the remains of the southern portal for Tunnel #2 on the former NWPRR line, in Tiburon CA. Photo by Kent Madden, February 2007.
This shows the tunnel to have been built in 1946. Like Tunnel #1...
This shows the tunnel to have been built in 1946. Like Tunnel #1, the northern portal for this tunnel no longer exists. Photo by Kent Madden, February 2007.
Looking south across Anderson Drive; these tracks lead to the tr...
Looking south across Anderson Drive; these tracks lead to the trestle that crosses Auburn Street. Photo by Kent Madden, January 2009.
Looking north from Anderson Drive.
Looking north from Anderson Drive. Photo by Kent Madden, January 2009.
Looking across Rice Drive north towards San Rafael, CA.
Looking across Rice Drive north towards San Rafael, CA. Photo by Kent Madden, January 2009.
Looking across Irwin Street north towards San Rafael, CA.
Looking across Irwin Street north towards San Rafael, CA. Photo by Kent Madden, January 2009.
View of a grade crossing looking north at the end of Grant Avenu...
View of a grade crossing looking north at the end of Grant Avenue, next to downtown Novato, CA. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere.
At Grant Avenue, the crossing gate has been dismantled.
At Grant Avenue, the crossing gate has been dismantled. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere.
The Northwestern Pacific passenger depot at Novato, CA.
The Northwestern Pacific passenger depot at Novato, CA. Photo by Andrew Laverdiere.

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Having recently seen the movie "Dirty Harry" on TV, I notice something in the movie that's related to this web page. In the movie, the killer drives his hijacked schoolbus under a railroad tressel, where Harry jumps onto the bus, from the tressel. That tressel is part of the Marin Co. NWP railroad system.

DL
bakersfield, CA
12/1/2008

Many thanks for the photo set. I am looking into doing some railroad walks (inspired by BBC show). At least until they bring rail back to Marin. Great images...

Michael
Novato, CA
3/9/2009

The rails though downtown Novato have had ties replaced, and should have new ballast soon. Also with the approval of voters last November, there will be a commuter train from Cloverdale, to Larkspur.

Lawrence Labranche
Eureka, CA
8/14/2009

For a few months now, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad between Schellville and Windsor in Sonoma and Marin Counties is no longer abandoned! Active rail freight service is operating on an as-needed basis bringing grain to customers in Petaluma, CA. Typically two to four trains operate per week to Petaluma. Just south of Windsor, the anticipated inbound lumber business to Standard Structures has not materialized but the company is promoting the use of its spur as a team track for other customers and shippers. Thus far it has generated one outbound load.

Northwestern Pacific has two locomotives: a "Gen-Set" engine leased from RJ Corman, the RJC 2009; and an EMD GP-9 leased from locomotive broker Bruggere and Monson, in traditional Southern Pacific grey/scarlet paint, lettered "Northwestern Pacific 1922."

Gene Poon
Rohnert Park, CA
11/15/2011
That's great news, thanks for sharing!   —Greg Harrison, Abandoned Rails

I believe I walked through NWPRR Tunnel #4 back in 1992. Do you know how long it has been gated off?

Dave
Point Reyes, CA
11/9/2012

SMART started the upgrading the tracks from Sonoma Airport where the maintence faciliy is going to be to Downtown San Rafael. As money comes available, it will expand north to Cloverdale and south to Larkspur.

Lawrence LaBranche
Eureka, CA
1/27/2013

I heard the commuter rail will be called the "Marin A-train". But what they need to do is re-build the wreckage between Fort Mason/ Fisherman's Wharf area so people can have easy access to S.F.

Cole
Theachapi, CA
7/25/2014

As a kid I recall a railroad siding in Novato Calif that ran a short distance from the railroad line to a big iron door in Cherry hill The siding crossed the road between Atherton Ave and Cherry st. It passed a small trailer court then a house and a cattle corral and ended in a big iron door which made neat booming noises when we bounced large rocks off of it. In mid 1950s the line was torn up and even the road bed bulldozed flat. No one has any record of the siding and why it was there. Any info on that? Should be on old maps and photos

randy
Oregon earth, OR
8/26/2014

Good news: much of the NWP right-of-way in Marin County is being rebuilt for the SMART commuter train. Whether or not the current NWP operation will capitolize on this remains to be seen.

Andy Sammonds
San Jose, CA
12/30/2015