Telephoto of Sunny Hill Cemetery site. View from North End of Alta Avenue, Marin City.
Sunny Hill Cemetery
Sausalito, Marin County, California
  • Most Remains Removed, 1890s
    Click for Photos

  • A typed note found at the Sausalito Historical Society reads:
    Sunnyhill Cemetery
    Block 68, Lot 8
    First cemetery in the Sausalito area known as "New Town" under the auspices of Sausalito Land & Ferry Company. It is off Rodeo Avenue and cypress surround the perimeter. Four known burials still interred. The driveway for carriages can still be seen. Many graves transferred to Sausalito cemetery prior to 1902.

  • (See accompaning 1992 photograph by Tom Hoover, SHS.)
         This cemetery is located toward the upper end of Rodeo Avenue, about 520 feet above sea level. This cemetery is within the original holdings of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company and within the corporate limits of the City of Sausalito. Today, it is within the bounds of the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
         Originally, Rodeo Avenue ran from Sausalito, uphill to the ridge line where it met Alta Avenue. Back in the late 1800s, it was a dirt road. During the 1930s, Rodeo Avenue was bisected by a very large earth cut during the construction of US Highway 101. Today the lower portion of Rodeo Avenue in Sausalito proper is a paved city street. The upper portion of Rodeo Avenue in Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a hard packed dirt, limited access, service road. While private automobiles are prohibited, hiking is allowed. Direct access to upper Rodeo Avenue from the city side of the freeway and lower Rodeo Avenue is not possible.
         To visit Sunny Hill Cemetery, proceed southbound on US 101 from Marin City, take Rodeo Avenue exit to the locked gate. Park there, but do not block the gate. On foot, start up the service road until you reach a very large grove of Monterey Cypress trees. That grove is about 1700 feet distant and 220+ feet higher than the gate. Power lines run along the north side of the cypress grove.
         Planted Monterey Cypress, an early import to Marin County, encompass much of the cemetery. Inside the orderly rows of trees, a very different world exists. It is lush and dark, it feels like a primal rain forest. Fallen trees litter the floor, native mosses and ferns thrive, as does an introduced ivy, and yes, California's poison oak is ever present too. Monterey Cypress has a life span of about 100 years. Considering that some of these old giants might have survived from the 1880s, this grove would be very old indeed and much unlike the well maintained old cypress in Sausalito proper. When the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway 101 were built in the 1930, there were considerably less trees in the Sausalito hills, but the cemetery's Monterey Cypress were already fully mature. In an aerial photograph of the highway under construction, the cemetery is very appearent.
         Within the cypress grove among the deadfall, ferns, wild black berries, and ivy is a deep shaft, possibly an uncovered cistern. There is a large manmade drainage ditch leading to this deep shaft. Only a single strand of wire acts as a barrier. Don't Fall In! Use Caution!
         The Sunny Hill Cemetery in Sausalito was in existence in 1885, it is mentioned that year in The Sausalito News. Since the newspaper started publishing in 1885, an earlier history of the cemetery is elusive. By 1885, the cemetery's location was no longer favored, we see in that year, the beginning efforts to find a more suitable location.
         Block 68, Lot 8 appears on an 1890s Sausalito Land & Ferry Company land sales map. Within that Lot 8 is a small tract of 2.59 acres that at one time carried the Parcel Number 13. The numbers Block 68, Lot 8 are also found on the Marin County Assessor's Map Book 64, Page 64, City of Sausalito...County of Marin, Calif. In 1961, that parcel and with many others were bundled together to form APN 064-260-24. That entire very large parcel is now owned by the United State of America. We have not seen any old time map that identifies the small tract as a cemetery.
         That 1890s map also shows the newly formed Sausalito Cemetery at the very north end of its Sausalito land holdings. It was this new Sausalito Cemetery that received the remains from Sunny Hill. Today, we know that new Sausalito Cemetery as Forever Fernwood and at the heart of Fernwood is its oldest area, the "Sausalito Section." The first burial in the new cemetery was of one Catherine Domergue, died December 15, 1891. It is possible that any other monument there with a death date prior to 1892 represents a earlier Sunny Hill burial, the remains and monument being moved to the new Sausalito Cemetery in the 1890s.

    Sunny Hill Cemetery Location
    Upper Rodeo Avenue, Sausalito, CA
    Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
    Degrees Minutes Seconds:
    Latitude: 37 51' 36.0714" Longitude: -122 30' 7.488"
    Decimal Degrees:
    Latitude: 37.86002 Longitude: -122.50208
    Newspaper Articles ::
    leaf 1885, Memoriam for Francis Slinkey.

    leaf 1885, Cemetery Hill Mentioned

    leaf 1885, Cemetery Meeting

    leaf 1885, Cemetery Meeting

    leaf 1891, New Sausalito Cemetery Authorized

    leaf 1891, Funeral of Catherine Domergue, Reported (1892)

    leaf 1893, Removal of Bodies from Old Sausalito Cemetery

    Note ::
  • Cypress. Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa). Native Range: Monterey Cypress is limited to two groves near Monterey on the Pacific Coast of California.

  • (Click the Images to See MUCH Larger Versions)
    Cypress grove, Sunny Hill Cemetery.
    Sunny Hill Cemetery Site, Cypress Grove and Power Line
    Rodeo Avenue
    Rodeo Avenue at the Cypress Grove and the Cemetery Site
    Uphill the Trail into the Cemetery
    From Rodeo Avenue Uphill into the Cemetery
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Inside the Grove
    Ivy ground cover gone wild
    Domestic Ivy Gone Wild
    Guard Wire
    Guard Wire
    The Deep Shaft
    The Deep Shaft
    Caution is Urged!
    Native Ferns Inside the Grove
    Native Ferns Inside the Grove
    Planted Row of Monterey Cypress
    Planted Row of Monterey Cypress
    Planted Row of Monterey Cypress
    Planted Row of Monterey Cypress
    Looking North from Sunny Hill
    Looking North from Sunny Hill over Richardson's Bay
    Map, 1890s
    Sausalito Land and Ferry Company Map from the 1890s. (Detail)
    Cemetery Location Map

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