If you’ve ever wondered who the Waldo Tunnel, Waldo Grade and Waldo Point were named after, here’s one theory. The source is Louise Teather’s 1986 book, “Place Names of Marin.”

“A street called Waldo appears on the first map of the Sausalito Land & Ferry Co. in 1869. It is believed to have been named for Waldo, Ore., then a prosperous mining town where gold had been discovered in 1852.

“Waldo was located just over the state border. Until 1854 the miners there thought they were in California, so they named the town for William Waldo, Whig Party candidate for governor, and voted for him.” In 1853, Waldo had campaigned in Sailor’s Diggings, mistakenly believing the town to be part of California. Official records noted that the names Sailor Diggings and Waldo were used interchangeably.

“The town thrived until after World War I,” according to Teather, “and then gradually died. By the late 1930s, most of the townsite was mined away. Today it is a ghost town with only a marker placed by the Josephine County Historical Society to remind visitors of its past.

“In Sausalito, Waldo Street has disappeared from the map, but the name is perpetuated with Waldo Point, at the foot of Waldo Grade; Waldo Court in Marin City; and the Waldo Tunnels. During the days of the railroad a station called Waldo stood opposite the point.”

“Place Names of Marin” is part of the collection of the Sausalito Historical Society, and may be perused during the Society’s public hours, Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

(1) comment


Interesting article but I think it is more likely that, like the town of Waldo, the landmarks in Sausalito containing the name Waldo were named after the person, William Waldo, not a town.

[Biography of William Waldo from “St. Clair County Missouri Biographies”] In 1849 William Waldo was Capt. of a wagon train that traveled from Missouri to California. "The next year, accounts of suffering on the plains influenced Capt. Waldo to bring relief. There was, at that time, no name upon the Pacific slope around which public affection and gratitude so clustered as that of Capt. William Waldo. About 1852 an act was passed by the California Legislature, partly reimbursing Mr. Waldo for his relief and efforts were made in other states to have the legislature repay him for aid to their citizens or to urge congress to do so.... In 1853 the Whigs of California nominated him for Governor of that state," but he lost in a very close election.

Concerning the photo you included in the article; it is not of the William Waldo (1812-1881) that ran for governor of California, it is of his nephew, William Waldo (1832-1911) from Oregon. I have a photo of the William Waldo that ran for governor of California if anyone is interested.


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