High on the windswept ridges of Mount Tamalpais stands a rustic gem from another time. A living, working, gas-lit Inn built long ago when steam trains once climbed the mountain. The railroad is gone now, but the Inn remains a haven for hikers and a monument to the rich historic heritage of the region. From its broad porch, a sweeping panoramic view includes much of the East Bay, San Francisco, the Marin Headlands, and a vast Pacific Ocean.
The West Point Inn was a brief stop on the Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway. Built in 1904, it was a place where trains met a horse-drawn stagecoach from Willow Camp (Stinson Beach.) Importantly, it was hospitality for visitors at the westernmost point of the railroad (hence the name.)
The Railroad Grade was built by hand in six months in 1896, from downtown Mill Valley to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais. With 281 turns the Railroad began calling itself “The Crookedest Railroad in the World.” In 1907 a branch line was finished to Muir Woods.
West Point’s stagecoach service ended in 1915. The Inn’s porch was enlarged in 1916, and the last cabin was built by Dr Washington Dodge of San Francisco in 1918. In 1920, the main lounge (a dining room then) was added.
The West Point Inn and its cabins are the only surviving buildings of the railroad and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The West Point Inn was part of the railroad until 1930, when the railroad abandoned operations and the Inn came under the jurisdiction of the Marin Municipal Water District. Innkeepers continued to lease the Inn, supported by a steady weekend hiking community but was abandoned as unprofitable during World War II.
In September 1943, volunteers began running the Inn. Their ideas were the basis of how we run West Point today.