Historic Steam Engine Locomotive “Engine No. 9.”

Engine No 9 in Mill Valley Depot in the 1920s
Gravity Cars Leaving the Tavern of Tamalpais in 1916  (CMLPL 087)
Engine No. 9 with passengers
Engine No. 9 at Mill Valley Depot, 1923

Updated September 18, 2023

Engine No. 9 is the only surviving piece of the rolling steam rail stock used to push gravity cars and passengers’ cars to the top of Mt. Tamalpais from 1896 to 1929, carrying over 1,000,000 visitors. The 36-ton steam engine is 30 feet long, 9 feet wide and 11 feet tall. It was built at Heisler Locomotive Works in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1921 and shipped to Mill Valley soon after. It was used on the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railroad, the fabled “Crookedest Railroad in the World,” until 1924.

Engine No. 9 is a key piece of transportation history, and opened formerly inaccessible areas of Mount Tamalpais, inspiring conservation efforts that spurred the national environmental movement that continues today. The ride to the top of Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods led local and national leaders to establish the public lands we enjoy today, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods, State Parks and Marin Water open space. 

Meeting and Date
Topic of MeetingResources
Community Chat - June 21, 2023Wide ranging discussion of City issues. Engine No. 9 is discussed at 55 min and 31 seconds into the meeting.Video
Council Meeting - June 5, 2023Consideration of a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute an Encroachment License, Maintenance, and Removal Agreement with Friends of No. 9, Inc. for Installation and Maintenance of the Historic Steam Engine Locomotive "Engine No. 9."Staff Report

Public Outreach prior to the meeting was posted in April and May 2023, including an informational news article on the City website,  and an Enjoy Mill Valley article here. It was covered in the Marin IJ in a news story, and three opinion pieces: Spotswood, Editorial, and Cartoon
Parks & Rec Meeting - November 2, 2022

Downtown Plaza Expansion Survey Results Review. 

Staff Report
Survey Results
Parks & Rec Meeting - October 6, 2021

Engine No. 9 Past, Present, and Future ? Art exhibit next to the Plaza Review. Recommended Action: Receive Information and Discuss Information.

Staff Report
City Council - January 7, 2019

Presentation by the Mill Valley Historical Society on the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway Original Steam Locomotive Relocation Project.


Map of Proposed LocationAt their June 5, 2023 meeting, the Mill Valley City Council approved a proposal for a 5-year agreement to place historic locomotive Engine No. 9 in front of City Hall in Downtown Mill Valley. The proposed location is the open space formerly used as a driveway for the former police station, currently home to the City Manager’s office. Owners of Mill Valley Market, Sweetwater and representatives from the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce support the location and its connection to the history of City Hall, fire station and train maintenance yard that once serviced the trains. Restoration of the engine is underway and has been paid for entirely by Friends of No. 9 and its supporters. 

Upon Council approval of the agreement, staff procured an arborists’ report to refine the site plans for the placement of the locomotive and appropriate foundation. Tree work to trim the Cedar of Lebanon in front of City Hall took place in early September, removing a smaller tree that was found by the arborist to be dying and in poor health.

Next steps include:

  • The Friends of Engine No. 9 will work with staff to procure a landscape plan and ensure all accessibility requirements are implemented. 
  • Staff will work with the Friends of Engine No. 9 to determine the appropriate security deposit, and implement as appropriate, recommendations received from the City’s risk pool related to insurance coverage and safety. 
  • Friends of No. 9 will continue to raise funds to cover the costs associated with the agreement. They estimate that they will be able to complete installation by the end of 2024.

For more information, please contact:
Linn Walsh, Senior Management Analyst
Email: lwalsh@cityofmillvalley.org