On the heels of a breakthrough that appears to have lowered the temperature on a long-fraught issue to bring the historic No. 9 locomotive back to Mill Valley in the future, with a proposed a 5-year agreement to place the historic locomotive “Engine No. 9” in front of City Hall in Downtown Mill Valley, there’s another vital component of the project that continues to move forward: its restoration.
Jeff and Don Millerick, lifelong metal workers and rail fans, have done much of the No. 9 restoration at their business in Sebastopol, according to the Times Standard.
Friends of No. 9 bought the locomotive from the Scotia Community Services District in 2018, and restoration efforts have been underway ever since. Locomotive No. 9 was used for logging in Siskiyou and Humboldt Counties, although it never worked in Pacific Lumber Company woods. Pacific Lumber did put the locomotive on display in Scotia in the 1950s, where it remained until being purchased by Friends of No. 9.
The train is the only surviving piece of the rolling steam rail stock used to push gravity cars and passengers’ cars to the top of Mt. Tamalpais from 1896 to 1929, carrying over 1,000,000 visitors.
“No. 9 is the sole piece of remaining, original equipment of the historic Mount Tamalpais Railroad,” said said Fred Runner, President of Friends of No. 9, the group coordinating the restoration efforts. “We’re lucky No. 9 will be so close to where it began each day and each adventure,” he added. “At the end of June, we remounted the restored I-beam frame members to the wheel trucks,” Runner said. “A crane gently placed the newly painted and refurbished three-ton, V-twin steam engine into No. 9’s frame.”
Engine No. 9 is a key piece of transportation history, and opened up formerly inaccessible areas of Mount Tamalpais, inspiring conservation efforts that spurred the national environmental movement that continues today. The ride to the top of Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods lead to local and national leaders to establish the public lands we enjoy today, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods, State Parks and Marin Water open space. It all began in Downtown Mill Valley, steps away from Engine No. 9’s new proposed home.
The various stakeholders have arrived at a proposal to place the 30-foot engine at City Hall – in the open space formally used as a driveway for the former police station, currently home to the City Manager’s office. Owners of Mill Valley Market, Sweetwater and representatives from the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce support the location and its connection to the history of City Hall, fire station and train maintenance yard that once serviced the trains.