Tamalpais’ engine No. 9, the last locomotive purchased by the scenic railway.

More than three years ago, a coalition of local organizations embarked on a long-shot plan to bring the Heisler No. 9 – the last remaining locomotive from the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” that ran from Mill Valley to the top of Mount Tam – back to Mill Valley for the first time in nearly 100 years.

To do so, Friends of No. 9, the organization formed by the Mill Valley Historical SocietyFriends of Mt. TamMarin History Museum and others, submitted a winning auction bid of more than $56,000 to acquire the engine that ran from Mill Valley to the top of Mount Tam until 1924. Since then, the group has focused on raising the money required to move, restore and relocate the massive, 36-ton, aging locomotive. 

That work continues via a Friends of No. 9 fundraiser with a goal of $50,000. The first phase is the restoration of the locomotive and has a budget of $250,000. 

​But as the work continues, No. 9’s got one gigantic birthday to celebrate in April. The engine turns 100 years old on April 18, and the Mill Valley Public Library is hosting Fred Runner, President of Friends of No. 9, to mark the moment and discuss an upcoming COVID-friendly centennial celebration and the exciting progress and secrets uncovered during the restoration process. The virtual event on Zoom is set for Wednesday, April 7 at 7pm. 

“No. 9 represents not just an era, but the rare attraction that promoted wilderness preservation at the beginning of the 20th century,” Runner says. “It carried the first tourists to Muir Woods at a time when providing easy public access to a wilderness park was a new idea and before most people could afford an automobile. We know John Muir rode the railroad to Muir Woods at least three times and was treated like a rock star when he visited.”

In addition, the railway drew tourists, documentary filmmakers and other celebrities, including Susan B. Anthony, Jack London and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who brought us Sherlock Holmes.

Virtual event on Zoom. Registrants will receive Zoom link upon registration. GO HERE TO REGISTER.

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