First known celebrity rides scenic railway to summit of Mt. Tamalpias
Susan B. Anthony
Public domain image
120 years ago on Sept. 16, 1896, Susan B. Anthony was the first known celebrity to ride the new scenic railway to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais. She was campaigning for women's suffrage--the right for women to vote in California. She was 76 years old.
In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in Rochester, New York. She was born a Quaker, believed in equal rights and peaceful protest.
In 1896, she campaigned in California where an amendment to the state constitution was on the ballot. A few newspapers carried the story of her day on Mt. Tamalpais. The Sausalito News had the right date. The Topeka State Journal had the details.
Women did not win the right to vote in California in 1896. That happened in 1911, and across America in 1920.
Ms. Anthony visited in the first month of operation for the Mill Valley & Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway. She and the two women's groups that rode the train were guests of the railroad--they rode for free. This gives us an idea of the politics of the new scenic railway. 1896 was eight years before the West Point Inn was built.
This is film footage from 1898 of the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” heading up to Mount Tam to West Point Inn. You can see the train backing up the cars up the mountain.
No, the film is not going in reverse. You’ll also notice that it was filmed by none other than Thomas Edison, only three years after the Lumière brothers premiered their first train films in Paris. They certainly liked to film trains back then!
This is a recently published film on the history of the railroad has great footage of the train steaming up the mountain. Grab a cup of coffee and we hope you enjoy watching this twenty-three minute film.
To view this film with closed-captioning, please go directly to Youtube.