Entries tagged with “White House Pool”.

White House Pool, which is maintained by the County of Marin, is my favorite park in West Marin. The park, which is midway between Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park, includes a few picnic tables and open areas, but mostly it consists of a beautiful trail along Papermill Creek. The “pool” is basically a wide bend in the creek.

Point Reyes Station and Black Mountain as seen from White House Pool.

Here’s its story. A “fast-talking” developer named Isaac Freeman “began hawking lots in 1909” in a tract that was to become Inverness Park, to quote the late historian Jack Mason. “White House Pool, just south of the Park, was a watering place where Freeman had bathhouses, water tank, windmill, and tract office.”

The path through the park has become popular with dog walkers, most of whom responsibly bag their pooches’ poop.

The name “White House” has nothing to do with the US capital. Rather it refers to a white building that at different times played significant roles in the area’s history. It was “one of the oldest houses on Point Reyes,” Mason wrote in Earthquake Bay. “Edward I. Butler [1874-1961] lived in it as a boy before going on to a career on the bench and in politics.”

Butler would become the San Rafael city attorney; would serve two terms in the California Assembly; would go on to be elected Marin County district attorney; was appointed and then repeatedly reelected to the Marin Superior Court bench, serving 31 years. All this according to the County of Marin website.

One of the county’s greatest challenges in maintaining the park is controlling its abundant poison oak. Pacific poison oak is naturally rampant throughout West Marin, and unfortunately most humans have allergic reactions to touching its oil and to inhaling its smoke during fires. Common reactions are rashes, blisters, and intense itching.

“World War II gave the [white] house new importance as an Army communications center. Telephone Company employee Earl Hall, who rented it, took calls incoming from the Pacific Theater on his telephone, one of the few around,” Mason wrote. “His wife Avis recalls messages from the big White House coming through her little one!

“A soldier with fixed bayonet stood outside searching cars for possible Japanese infiltrators.”

The pedestrian bridge near the White House Pool parking lot at times is so overgrown with poison oak that it takes care not to brush against it.

After the war, the building evolved into a lightly used fishing cabin. “When the white house… fell into disrepair, owners William and Lloyd Gadner, reacting to a county order they either bring it up to ‘code’ or demolish it, chose the latter,” Mason wrote. “I have rueful memories of that 1969 morning — holding off Walter Kantala’s bulldozer while I hurried home for a camera.”

Among the delights of the White House Pool trail are a series of side-paths through more poison oak mixed in with other foliage. (You can avoid the bad stuff if you’re at all careful, and it’s worth the effort.) These paths lead to clearings on the creek bank where a walker can rest on a bench while enjoying views of the foot of Tomales Bay.

For those wanting to keep further away from any poison oak, there are also a few benches in open areas.

As Lynn observes, Marin County Parks and Open Space Department periodically cuts back the poison oak that protrudes through the railing of the White House Pool footbridge. A member of the department staff on Monday told us the frequency of cutting depends on what staff observe and what the public reports to the county.

On Monday, however, the staffer’s main concern was not poison oak but a vandal who over the weekend managed to drive around the barricades at the edge of the parking lot in order to “spin donuts” in dry grass. I doubt the jerk will ever be identified, but if he is, he ought to be sentenced to clearing poison oak at White House Pool.


Point Reyes Station’s levee road (AKA Sir Francis Drake Boulevard) should flood less often during heavy storms in the future thanks to a county Department of Public Works project now underway.

Road supervisor Pete Maendle (left) of Inverness Park this week told me a box culvert under the levee road had become completely clogged with silt. This has sometimes led to a drainage ditch from Silver Hills causing flooding near the White House Pool parking lot.

Part of the project involves cleaning out sedimentation basins that are supposed to trap the silt, which consists of decomposed granite, before it reaches the culvert.

The channel downstream from the culvert empties into Papermill Creek, and county creek naturalist Liz Lewis said workers so far have found two juvenile steelhead, six to eight sticklebacks, and two prickly sculpin in the project area.

The state Department of Fish and Game has told the county to complete the project by Oct. 15 in time for winter rains and fish runs. County superintendent of road maintenance Craig Parmley said today he hopes the $25,000 project will require only five or six days of work.

Although the work isn’t expected to last very long, Lewis and Parmley both noted it has taken seven years to get the many state and federal permits the project required. The biggest delay was in getting permission from the Army Corps of Engineers, Lewis said.

Fortunately, the permits will allow the county to carry out ditch maintenance in the future without going through the permit process again, Parmley noted.

While the project is underway, a series of cofferdams keeps ditch water out of the worksite. Water in the dams is being pumped into Olema Marsh.

Once this project at White House Pool (in background) is completed, the county hopes to carry out similar work in Inverness, Inverness Park, and Bolinas, superintendent Parmley said.