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Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, 15 miles west of San Rafael on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, displays beautiful fall colors with the change of the Big-leaf maple tree leaves. The park also features hillside trails for hikers, equestrians and bicyclists as well as charming picnic areas. There are also creeks, open grassland, and redwood canyons in the park. For more information call (415) 488-9897.

Park History

In 1849, shortly after hearing about the great gold discovery in California, Samuel Penfield Taylor and a group of adventurous young friends purschased an old schooner, fitted her out and set sail for California from Boston Harbor. Ten months later, after several stopovers for emergency repair work, the little schooner finall arrived in San Francisco Bay.

Taylor did some business in San Francisco and then joined his friends in the gold country. Two years later, in August 1852, he shipped 6,173 pennyweight of gold to Curtis, Perry and Ward, his San Francisco bankers. The dust netted him $5,691.99 and gave him his start in California.

Back in San Francisco, Taylor entered the lumber business and shortly afterward purchased 100 acres of timberland along what is now Papermill Creek within the present state park. Timber was plentiful but Taylor did not go into the logging business. Instead he built a papermill and installed a paper-making process that utilized only scrap paper and rags gathered from San Francisco and other coastal towns. The mill produced newsprint for the dailies in San Francisco, fine paper for use as election ballots and other official documents, and square bottomed paper bags, which were quite a novelty at the time.

Mill Monument

Thirty thousand kegs of blasting powder were manufactured in a powder mill that Taylor built and
operated at another site in the canyon. The mill was an extremely profitable venture at first, but Taylor's dream of becoming a major black-powder supplier ended with a violent explosion in November 1874. The mill never reopened.

A little town with about 100 families sprang up around Taylor's paper mill. Access to the area remained difficult, however, until 1874 when a narrow-gage railroad was built through the canyon to serve the Point-Reyes-Tomales Bay area. Taylor built a resort hotel beside the new railroad, and opened Camp Taylor, one of the first areas in the United States to offer outdoor camping as a recreational pursuit. During the late 1870's and early 1880's Taylorville was one of northern California's most popular and well known weekend recreation areas.

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