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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tam glimpsed curbside from Bon Air Road, Greenbrae

It’s hard to imagine this landscape, so verdant even in this dry winter spell, as being under water. Periodic floods in the course of winters with more rain do remind us that we are living on borrowed land. Most of this area of the Corte Madera Creek Watershed was part of a shipping “lane” on which much commerce depended back in the latter half of the 19th century.

In 1855 Ross Landing [near what today is the College of Marin] on Corte Madera Creek was the largest shipping point on the Pacific Coast, according to an article from The Independent dated February 2, 1915. “The channel was deep, and steamers landed at the point where the county road to Kentfield encounters the old bridge. Ross Landing was a busy point with as many as forty scows in the creek at one time and about 106 oxen and mule teams unloading hides, tallow, cord, wood, rough lumber, tan bark and swine and cattle.”

Captain Charles Mastron, a good friend to the Buckelews, had the lease for the San Quentin terminus and erected the first wharf at San Quentin and one at Ross Landing. Originally he had the steamer “Contra Costa,” which plied between Ross Landing, Petaluma, San Quentin and San Francisco. Later the old steamer “Tamalpais” was operated by Captain Mastron, who charged $2 each way from San Francisco and made the trip in 4 hours. Captain Paul Treanton also operated a boating business in Marin in the 1850s. His schooners transported brick from the Callot brickyard (later Escalle Winery) to San Francisco. – from “Larkspur Past & Present: A Historic & Walking Guide,” by The Larkspur Heritage Committee, 1991 edition

Not coincidentally to all that increased traffic and commerce led by men with English names on the waters between points with Hispanic designations was the fact that at the end of the Mexican-American war, California was annexed to the US in 1848.