Gertrude Southworth (1862 - 1946)
U.S. Coast Guard Station, Bolinas
For more then 80 years Bolinas commerce was dependent on busy schooner traffic commuting between Bolinas and San Francisco markets. Ships moved up and down the coast where fog, storms and Duxbury Reef caused many wrecks. Bolinas briefly had a Life Saving station but it burned in 1883. It was not replaced until the terrible wreck of the Hanalei at Bolinas in 1914 made it clear that trained men needed to be stationed in the town. A Coast Guard Station opened in 1917. In this photo we see the early stages of the stairway that eventually climbed to the top of Little Mesa and the Coast Guard lookout tower on the cliff overlooking the bay.
Today, this building on Wharf Road is one of the last examples of the architectural transition from U.S. Lifesaving Stations to U.S. Coast Guard Stations. The Coast Guard was a vital presence in Bolinas until after WWII when the silting in of the lagoon made it difficult for rescue boats to come and go. The buildings had another life as the popular Marine Biology Lab of the College of Marin. Today many people are working to preserve this historic building.