For most of us, we think of tunnels as passageways through mountains or hills. There are a lot of those in Northern California. But, how about when man and nature work hand in hand to make a modern tunnel? The result is the Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes and it’s breathtaking: a pass-through on a road that carries you to a pretty cool historical place. And, we’re guessing a lot of you never even knew it existed.
History here is BIG.
The first settlers here were from the Miwok tribe. As Spanish influence moved in, Point Reyes was the perfect spot to keep watch for our military forces. No better place than sitting on the coastline to watch for Russian ships in the distance.
Monterey Cypress AKA Cupressus macrocarpa
This evergreen calls the coast home. It can reach up to 133 feet tall and over 8 feet in diameter. In a perfect spot some botanists believe they can live up to 1,000 years.
The beauty of the Cypress.
Whoever planted these Cypress trees couldn't have chosen better. This tree flattens at the top in response to coastal winds and the salty fog and spray of the ocean keep the leaves a deep almost fluorescent green color. The limbs bend and grow at the will of the wind. These leaves when crushed release a sweet lemony scent.
The age of wireless communication.
In 1894 Guglielmo Marconi was in Italy experimenting with electromagnetic waves; wireless communication. He perfected what we now know as Morse Code.
Built in 1913
According to California State Parks history records: n order to achieve a signal powerful enough to cross the Pacific Ocean, a new, more powerful station was built on the Marin Coast. This station was designed and constructed by J.G. White, a New York engineering firm. All Marconi’s transoceanic stations were “duplex” stations, geographically separated complexes for transmitting and receiving.
The tunnel to history.
Louisiana has their Oak Alley and we have our Cypress Tunnel. The meaning behind this place is just as important as appreciating the beauty of it. Understanding what these trees were placed here for is a big part of what we love about it here.
World War I
During World War I, the United States Government appropriated control of this technology. The Marconi Company, deprived of its commercial wireless operations, pursued lucrative contracts to provide the Navy with new and upgraded submarine and shipboard transmitters. This base then changed hands numerous times to private investors. At one time it was owned by a gentleman who was a bit disturbed.
Prison and Murder
According to records from the California State Parks, they had this to say: "In the late 1960’s, Synanon began to de-emphasize its rehabilitation programs, and became a self-declared “alternative lifestyle community.” At its height, it had about 1700 members, a large number of whom lived at the Marshall property. In 1975, Synanon underwent another transformation, declaring itself a “church” and amassing a large cache of weapons. In 1979, a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by the local newspaper, The Point Reyes Light, began to expose Synanon’s finances, internal practices and abuses in the local community. The state of California launched a special investigation into Synanon’s affairs and in 1980 Charles Dedrich, long-time leader of the organization, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. "
Most folks just come here for the exquisite photo opp. But, now you know better. You should be able to wow your friends with all the history that you know. There’s always a story hidden beneath–always.