Until they tore up the tracks some years back, the express train carrying commuters into San Francisco stopped here, at a junction point called Baltimore Park. The name itself illustrates a direct Maryland influence in the settlement of Marin County, a bedroom suburb, where the Virginia connection -- as related in two earlier columns -- is the existence of a town called Fairfax.
Baltimore Park, a tranquil neighborhood of this town of 11,300 that begins with an esplanade near the old train station and leads to a canyon of redwood trees, is the product of something called the Baltimore and Frederick Trading and Mining Co.
The firm, a counterpart of the Virginia Co. described earlier, was formed in the California Gold Rush year of 1849, according to a local history published in 1872, "for the purpose of prosecuting any and every kind of business which might be available in the new California."
Thirty stockholders subscribed $1,000 apiece and sent goods and machinery around Cape Horn to San Francisco and followed in person.
Upon arriving on Sept. 10, 1849, the expedition looked around for the lumber country and established a mill here in what became known as Baltimore Canyon. The original stockholders found other enterprises, however, and never operated the mill. It was sold off to other interests. But the Maryland connection remained in the name of the subdivision and, later, the railroad station.
By happenstance, the expedition by the Baltimore and Frederick Trading and Mining Co. led to the creation in 1861 in nearby San Rafael of the San Francisco area's oldest newspaper, the Marin County Journal. Founded as a weekly, the Journal survives to this day as the daily Marin Independent Journal, the first paper of my career.
One of the Baltimore and Frederick contingent was a man with the odd name of Ai Barney. Four years after he arrived here, his son, Jerome, a native of New Market, Md., and a printer who had worked on newspapers in Frederick and Washington, went west to be with his father. Seeing an opportunity, he founded the Journal, which he sold in 1872.
A curious footnote: Ai Barney was chairman of the first meeting that led to incorporating San Rafael, then as now the county seat, as a city -- initially for the singular purpose of creating a police force to guard the citzenry from depredations by former convicts discharged from nearby San Quentin Prison.
There's another Maryland connection here. St. Vincent's School, which now is a residential facility for troubled youth from the region, was created -- first as a school, then as an orphanage -- by Catholic nuns sent in 1855 from the American headquarters of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Md.