Tomales 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.
Today 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.
Tomales 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!