"Upper Town" lasted. Keys' "Lower Town"
did not; its founder died youngish in 1873, and maybe
it was the potatoes that did him in. By that time, Keys
Creek had silted in, the victim of erosive potato farming
currently has about 200 residents, although the town should
have been larger. At times it was, with perhaps 2,000
residents at the height of the railroad era. However,
Dutton's town has periodically suffered from Keys' luck.
In 1877, a fire destroyed a hotel, the bank, a hat store,
a drug store, and the watchmaker's shop. In 1891 and 1898,
fires did damage in the eastern parts of town. The 1906
quake leveled farm houses and a new Catholic church. And
in 1920, another fire almost leveled everything including
three hotels, a restaurant, a saloon, the barbership,
the butchershop, the blacksmith's shop, the livery stable,
and the bank.
the facades around the main crossroads remain true to
the Frontier Victorian past. The general store still sells
a bit of everything, and the Catholic Church still stands
where it did in 1860. On side streets, plants hang above
the squeaky porches of tiny Queen Anne cottages.
history can be plumbed a couple of different ways. Dates
and dates can be pieced together from the worn headstones
of the Presbyterian cemetery, which is a block up from
downtown on Church Street. A more formal approach is to
visit the Tomales Regional History Center, located in
the auditorium of the old high school just south of the
business district. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, Saturday,
and Sunday. The number for more information is (707) 878-9443.
Dillon Beach is a short drive west of Tomales through
pastoral hills dotted with farmhouses and grazing cows.
Dillon Beach offers tide pools, grassy sand dunes, soft
white sand, a surfer's haven, and one mile of flat sandy
beach - a must see on the Northern Marin Coast!