Kilkare Woods History

"Take a Deep Breath.  You're at the Cabin Now"

Kilkare Woods History 

  Kilkare Woods had it's roots firmly planted by the early 1860's railroad boom and expansion across the United States.


  The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 and signed by President Abraham Lincoln provided for government issuing of bonds for the construction of a railroad heading due West towards the Pacific Ocean.  The eastbound construction of the Transcontinental Railroad was financed by four men, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins (both wealthy
Gold Rush merchants), Leland Stanford (wealthy tycoon, industrialist, California Governor, U.S. Senator and founder of Stanford University) and Charles Crocker (merchant and famed banker).  Charles Crocker was a major visionary for the Sunol area.


  With the completion of the Transcontinental railroad in May 1869 connecting the east coast with the port town of Sacramento (and access to the Pacific Ocean) the job of extending the railroad to the large population center of San Francisco was completed four months later.  The chosen route was through Alameda Canyon (now known as Niles Canyon) and passed through the tiny town of Sunol.


  How did the area get to be a popular destination in the 1880's?  For elite San Franciscans, getting out of the city typically meant a two day, 75 mile journey on horseback or wagon to the resort town of Calistoga.  The trip was long and dangerous and included crossing the bay by ferry or steamship.  Charles Crocker, seeing the potential to leverage the new railroad passenger service, planned to create a new resort easily accessible by rail.  Because of its proximity to the Sunol Train Station, he purchased a large tract of land in the area now known as Kilkare Woods with idea that he would eventually develop it into an accessible haven for San Francisco's booming middle class.  Unlike Calistoga, travel to Sunol only took a few hours by rail.


  The area started out with about 100 plots, each with it's own canvas tent.  Hunters and fishermen would rent tents for a week and live off the land.  His vision was to eventually build cabins where families can enjoy the area in a more homelike


  Charles Crocker died in 1888 before realizing his dream, but between 1926 and 1933 his heirs eventually replaced the canvas tents with 12' x 16' redwood log cabins.


  The upgraded accommodations continued to provide for hunters, fishermen and families alike until the second World War.  With the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the United States entry into the war, tens of thousands of men were shipped overseas.  The cabins served as affordable housing for the wives and children left behind who did not have the means to live in the expensive cities.  When the war ended in 1945, there was an acute housing shortage and it was decided that the cabins would be better off sold as individual homes.


  Many have been remodeled and barely resemble the original structure.  Others have merged adjacent properties into one larger structure.  Others have fallen into disrepair and have been razed to the ground.  Of the 100 or so cabins built, 73 still remain.  The Treehouse's family room is a lasting example of what the original 12' x 16' cabin in its entirety consisted of.