This historic, silent film showing the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway was compiled from paper prints at the Library of Congress in 1959. The paper positives shown here were originally filmed by cameramen working for Thomas Edison in 1898 and the Miles Brothers (filmmakers from San Francisco) in 1906. While the earlier section of the film shows wood burning locomotives with diamond smokestacks designed to capture embers, the second half of the film shows oil-burning locomotives with straight stacks.
[N.B.:Before 1913 the line was actually called the Mill Valley and Mount Tamalpais Scene Railway (since the company hoped to do commercial development in the area).]
The Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway was a scenic tourist railway operating between Mill Valley and the east peak of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, covering a distance of 8.19 miles (13.18 km), with a 2.88-mile (4.63 km) spur line to the Muir Woods. The railroad was incorporated in January 1896, and closed in the summer of 1930. Originally planned as a standard gauge electric trolley line, the railroad was powered by a succession of geared steam locomotives. Billed as the "Crookedest Railroad in the World," the line was renowned for its steep and serpentine route, winding through picturesque terrain to a mountaintop tavern providing first class hospitality and striking views of the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite its popularity, the railway met its demise following a fire in 1929, and dwindling ridership when the automobile could finally drive to Tamalpais' summit.
The railroad became famous for its gravity cars, four-wheel coasters that took advantage of the steep, relentless grade, were first introduced in 1902. Gravity cars had an operator known as a gravityman who sat in the front right seat (on most cars) and operated two brake levers that pressed heavy duty brake shoes against the car's wheels. Gravitymen had strict orders to obey a 12 mile-per-hour speed limit as they glided down Mt. Tamalpais to either Muir Woods or into Mill Valley. "Gravities" ran at scheduled times, like all trains on the line, essential to safe operation on a single track railroad. Gravity cars were towed back to the summit by the steam engines, where they were stored in the yard for the next run.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com