From the Coast Miwok Indians who originally occupied this land, through the earliest explorers and the pioneer settlers, to those who arrived in the early years of the 20th century and later, the western Marin and southern Sonoma coast lands have a varied and remarkable history. Connected in the early years only by tenuous and sometimes impassable wagon roads and often dangerous waterways, the area’s inhabitants were self sufficient and resourceful. The towns, villages, and ranchlands which they built and where they worked still, in many places, bear their marks.

Pioneers grew grain and potatoes on the hillsides around Tomales and Bodega, and the early dairy ranches—with Spanish longhorn cattle—were a portent of things to come. Thriving ports operated out of bays and estuaries from which agricultural products were shipped to the booming city of San Francisco, full of forty-niners anxious for the taste of fresh butter and eggs.

In 1871 the North Pacific Coast Railroad was formed. Eventually connecting Sausalito with Tomales Bay and the Russian River area redwoods, the narrow gauge railroad operated until 1930. Though conceived primarily to move redwood lumber products to the growing City (and never much of a commercial success), the train also afforded a convenient means of exporting local agricultural products, and was a popular means of transportation for tourists, giving many an introduction to the relatively far off "wilds" of Marin and Sonoma Counties.