Camp Taylor Revisited

Camp Taylor was built in the late 1800s by Muriel’s great grandfather, Samuel Penfield Taylor, and managed by her grandfather, James Irving Taylor.  Thanks to Dewey Livingston and the Marin History Museum, we get a glimpse into what camp life was like in those days from the following article first published in 1889.  


The FAX Sept. 21 – Oct. 5, 1988

Historic Fax

A Century of Crowded Campgrounds

by Dewey Livingston


     If you have tried to get a spot at Samuel P. Taylor State Park any of these recent summers, you may have found out that Taylor Park is a popular and often crowded place. You may have found yourself on a waiting list perhaps behind dozens of people. Let’s go back a hundred years and find how the campgrounds under Samuel Taylor’s redwood forests were as much in demand then as  now, although, as you will see, the style of camping was quite different.  The following article appeared in the Sausalito News on July 19, 1889.

     Marin County has never has so many camping parties within her boundaries as at the present time and Camp Taylor has received the lion’s share of the attention of visitors, who leave San Francisco every year for a vacation in the country and who decided that Marin County was the best place to have a good time this season.  The short distance from San Francisco and the excellent and rapid communication and cheap rates over the North Pacific Coast Railroad, presented unusual facilities and advantages to many, so Camp Taylor became the popular camping ground of the day.

For situation, as a summer resort, the place has no superior.  The situation in a valley protected by surrounding hills, the Paper Mill Creek, a fine large stream of mountain water running through the property, and the densely wooded country with trees of many varieties, among which pines, redwoods, laurel, madrone and several other species indigenous to California, make Camp Taylor all that can be desired as a camping ground.

The Camp Taylor Hotel and grounds are conducted by James I. Taylor, in a manner that not only makes the place popular but is likely to keep it filled up as long as the season lasts. The rush was to great in the beginning of the season that over three hundred applications for accommodations had to be placed on file, as the hotel was filled to overflowing. On the Fourth of July the colony at the Camp had reached over 800 and with the visitors it was estimated over 1000 people were in and about Camp Taylor.

A novel arrangement in the Camp Taylor Hotel camps is that they are wooden frames with shake roofs, and have a wooden floor that sets from ten to twelve inches above the ground level and with heavy canvas sides makes a summer house that is both comfortable and warm.  Their occupants in most cases board at the hotel, but there are many camps and camping parties that live by themselves.  Many of these parties have just pitched their tents on the ground. Although there is a great deal of shrubbery, no reptiles or wild animals are in the vicinity of the camp.

The commissary department is one of the great features of the Camp and supplies from a gallon of milk to a hairpin, which shows a varied and diversified line of goods is kept and everything is of the best quality. The store is presided over by A. Cromwell, a young gentleman who never misses an opportunity to oblige the campers and is highly spoken of by them in return to his courteous treatment which they evidently appreicate. Judge Geo. W. Davis, of San Rafael, is in charge of the mail, express and freight departments and is able assisted in his manifold duties by Al Murbach.


Jumbo! Jumbo! Jumbo!


     “What’s the matter with Jumbo? He’s all right, you bet, every time. Ha! ha! Ha!!!”

The Jumbo Club at Camp Taylor are one of the features of the Camp. All members will be on hand next Saturday night. The other evening the boys got off by themselves and had a stag party, but over 200 ladies who felt they were being slighted, got together and forming themselves into a storming party, invaded the barracks fo the gay Jumbo’s and captured every mortal son of a gun of them – husbands, sweethearts and all. Then the ladies ran the camp to their own satisfaction. A merry time they all had. One thing the ladies can’t get in on and the is the Jumbo tent which won’t hold but one. Following are the members of the Jumbo Club:

Hon. Herbert W. Hatch, Jumbobille, Chief Lush’ Hon. O. Ellinghouse, Chief Slogger, Hon. F. Bates Goeway, Grand Bouncer; Hon Austin O’Maley, Chief Salvationist, Hon. Geo Schad; Chief Robber; Hon. Rowland Ellit (boy baritone); Assistant Chief Luch; Hon. Emmanuel McCormack, Chief Hairy Man…(etc. including Chief Candy Fiend, Chief Bloat, Chief of Sloppy Weather, Chief Chippy Chaser and Chief Growler).


Camp Taylor Camps

 During a quiet walk among the many camps a representative of the News notice the following Camp Taylor camps.

Carmel camp – Manuel M. Toboas and party. This is the star camp. Owl’s Cottage; Dulce far Niente; Laurel Dell; Green House; Doane-Knight-Ames-Maun Camps; Boulevard – Hon. W. H. Jordan, who is wide spoken of as a candidate on the Republican side for Governor at the next state election, and family; Riverside; Pigs-in-Clover – The boys – a stag party; Camp Dickenson – Chas H. Casassa, Big Chief; Louis Stever, Yellow Dog; John Valenga, Geronimo, etc.

This article appears courtesy of the Marin History Museum.

It has been retyped from the original article for ease of reading.


Dewey Livingston who first featured the article in a 1988 publication is associated with the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History in Inverness, California.