Anatomy of a photo #69: Following the tracks of history

The berm that the old narrow gauge railroad once ran atop as it rolled down Tomales Bay

1930 saw the end of an era in western Marin and Sonoma counties, when the railroad running through this rural area was dismantled. Allowing timber and tourists alike to travel between Sausalito and the Russian River, little remains to hint at its path, except some buildings in the towns along its route, and the names of places like Point Reyes Station. Some of the towns have even disappeared. If a person feels inclined to drive along the east shore of Tomales Bay however, there are a few subtle clues as to what once was. Some of the shoreline is mounded high above the water, and it appears unnaturally straight and level. This “levy” is the bed of the old narrow gauge railroad. It’s easy to spot, once you look for it. Just pick a turnout between Point Reyes and Tomales, almost any of them, and have a look. Then imagine yourself chugging along through the placid waters of yesteryear.

I took this image from one of the turnouts along Tomales Bay where you can see this levy. It’s possible to take pictures of it from right by the road, but instead I descended the hillside to be on a level with where the tracks would have been.

The light is early morning- you can still see some of the frost/dew on the grass. The lens is a wide angle so that it is a full landscape to give a sense of place- the Inverness Ridge in the background, the mesa in between, and the channel running alongside the berm.

ISO 200, f/9.1, 1/80 shutter speed, 24mm lens

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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