Overview: A pair of white church steeples rise from the rolling green hills, giving the tiny coastal hamlet of Tomales the simple look of middle America. Sheep and cows dot the hills. Only a handful of buildings make up the downtown. Diekmann’s General Store, in the same building since the 1870s, now offers a photocopy machine. Nearby is the refurbished U.S. Hotel. It wasn’t always a sleepy village, though. Following the 1849 Gold Rush, Tomales was a rollicking town of dairy ranchers, potato farmers and merchants. Tomales was a coastal schooner and rail hub, and eleven saloons lined the street. Marin County came close to naming it the county seat. The 1906 earthquake and a fierce fire in 1920 helped wipe out the remnants of what was once a vibrant commercial center. The biggest event in Tomales today is the Italian American Labor Day parade, which draws several thousand people.

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