St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part IV)

A part of this flood washed over San Mateo County. Little towns knit together. Presently the Southern Pacific paralleled the Camino. Maybe a single block of stores, hotels and saloons. Then scattered cottages of early commuters.

Stores still featured the Western false front. Brick began to be used and was popular until the 1906 earthquake. With most of the square false fronts lying in the streets, it speedily became much less esteemed.

San Francisco’s wealthy, always conscious of the weather that in 1817 caused the Franciscans of Dolores Mission to build a place in the sun for their chilled staff to recuperate at San Rafael, began to move down the peninsula. The warm eastern slopes of the hills charmed them.

William Ralston spearheaded the move. Even before the railroad was built, he had a palace of wooden lace erected at Belmont. There with fast horses and continuing demands for good roads, he became the first commuter. First in what a flood!

This was a time uninhibited by social restraints as the days of the French Louis’. Huge fortunes had been swiftly made in silver, in railroads, in shipping, sugar and pineapple. Taxes were negligible. Labor was cheap.

Exuberant, fantastic and lavish palaces and chateaux rose like mushrooms in the favored hills.

…to be continued..