Stinson Beach is rich in history! We have provided a small amount of background information as well as photos graciously donated from our Historical Society. Anyone having or needing additional information may contact them at P.O. Box 413, Stinson Beach, CA 94970.
The history of Stinson Beach revolves around its geography. Beginning in the 19th century, ranches used the rolling hills to raise milk cows. White Gate Ranch was part of the Throckmorton tenant ranches; only a grove of eucalyptus on Panaoramic Highway marks it’s location.
Early in the 19th century the area was accessible only by sailing schooner from San Francisco, by horseback to San Rafael, or on foot over the Dipsea Trail. In 1870, the first dirt road along the coast from Sausalito was completed. Soon tent camps sprang up among the willows, hence the early name, Willow Camp.
The real birth of the community was in 1906 when the earthquake brought refugees from San Francisco who built the first hotel and stores and the first Stinson subdivision was accepted by the County. In 1916, with the opening of the first post office, the name was changed to Stinson Beach, in honor of the largest landowners.
In the 1920’s the first motor stage brought visitors to the new beach resorts, Dipsea Lodge and Sea Downs. It was not until the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 that the sleepy resort community began to see much day use of the County Park on the beach.
New residents arrived during World War II, and after the war, the Seadrift Subdivision and the Highlands above town were developed resulting in the
Stinson Beach of today. In the meantime, the beach park had passed from county to state hands, and in 1972, it became part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area.