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A row of flowerpots now parades down the raised section of sidewalk on the main street of Point Reyes Station (between C and D streets). The story behind this array of flowerpots is intriguing.

The town was born in 1875 when the North Pacific Coast Railway opened a narrow-gauge line from Sausalito to Cazadero with a stop in Point Reyes Station. What started as a whistlestop in a cow pasture owned by Mary Burdell became a town subdivided by her husband Galen, a dentist. Soon there was a depot on the main street, but it was turned 180 degrees when tracks east of town were converted to standard gauge in 1920. 

Back in the days of the narrow-gauge trains, the building housing Cabaline Saddle Shop and the Bovine Bakery housed a general store, the Point Reyes Emporium. The train tracks went up the the middle of the main street, which was not yet paved, meaning that in wet weather, workers transporting cargo from a boxcar to the store had to slog through mud.

The raised sidewalk with two people sitting on its edge in the way many did until recently.

Their solution was to build a sidewalk as high as the floor of a narrow-gauge boxcar. When a train stopped in front of the Point Reyes Emporium, workers stuck sawhorses in the mud, laid planks on top of them, and then had a level, dry passage from the floor of the boxcar to the door of the store.

The narrow gauge up the coast shut down in 1930, and the standard gauge east of town closed in 1933. The line had never been profitable, and the Great Depression, along with the advent of competition from trucks, brought about the end of West Marin’s railroad era. The former Point Reyes Station depot is now the town post office.

The raised section of sidewalk flowered this year. The Bovine is to the left of Leona’s. 

The town was left with a raised section of sidewalk which became an unexpected problem during the pandemic. The already-popular Bovine Bakery became even more so as out-of-towners escaping the monotony of sheltering at home frequently chose West Marin for an escape, stopping by the Bovine for a snack. In order for the bakery to maintain proper  social distancing, customers for now don’t go inside but get their pastries at the door.

Many of them had taken to eating their pastries sitting just outside on the edge of the raised section, and as inevitably happens when people eat pastries beside the street, birds show up for the crumbs some folks throw them. Before long, Leona’s next door began finding an overabundance of people and birds nibbling at the door. Messy. The solution? Flower pots so folks can’t use the edge of the raised section for a bench.