Point Reyes Station, which has the biggest commercial
district, owes its existence (and obviously part
of its name) to the railroad that ran through for
59 years ending in 1933.
it was called Olema Station. However, the main property
owner, Novato dentist Galen Burdell, gave it its
lasting name in 1883. Black Mountain, whose rolling
crest dominates the near distance east of town,
carries the family name of Burdell's wife.
Main Street, which is A Street, is also Highway
1 but is marked as Shoreline Highway, most of the
north-facing facades date to the railroad era. The
architecture is vaguely Italianate-- many of the
early town fathers were Northern Italian immigrants
or Italian speaking Swiss.
most imposing edifice is the brick Grandi Building,
built in 1915. Although empty now, it once housed
a grand hotel, ballroom, and general store. Down
the street, the woodsided Point Reyes Emporium (1898)
survived the 20th Century beautifully.
railroad switching yard occupied the facing area.
Here, once standard gauge rails were laid from Sausalito,
loads had to be shifted to and from the narrowgauge
cars that still ran north up to the Russian River.
Ultimately, the old depot was turned and moved and
is now the postoffice. The old enginehouse stands
too; it's the burnt-red structure a block off the
highway from the gas station.
Elsewhere, commercial and office buildings are known
as what they once were: the Old Creamery Building,
the Livery Stable, the Hay Barn. The rambling white
building at the southern entrance to town is known
as the Cheda Building, although Cheda's Garage (the
oldest Triple-A outlet in the state) is a block
up the street. Even the Point Reyes Whale of a Deli
is sometimes called by its original name - Cheda's
- even though the store has had several evolutions
sidewalks buzz with activity on sunny weekends.
As the coast's commercial anchor, Point Reyes Station
has at least one - and usually just one - of everything:
one hardware store, one grocery store, the only
bank on the Marin coast, and likewise, the only
feed supplier, and the only pharmacy.
downtown eateries, of which there are several, seem
almost a mandatory stop for caravans of bicyclists,
motorcyclists and all manner of visitors coming
a free port, blue-collar at its roots, and you can
still catch a whiff of livestock in the breeze.
national seashore begins 25 miles from the Golden
Gate Bridge, and it must drive developers crazy
to see it just lying there, virtually empty. Its
natural state is a tribute to former President John
F. Kennedy, who declared that the peninsula should
be saved as a national treasure. He set aside nearly
80,000 acres for public use.
largest town at the edge of the park, Point Reyes
Station, consists of a couple of dozen buildings
that line both sides of Route 1.