News Release

Historic Point Reyes Ranches are Formally Recognized

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Date: November 13, 2018
Contact: Melanie Gunn, 415-464-5131

Point Reyes Peninsula & Olema Valley Dairy Ranches Historic Districts Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

POINT REYES STATION, Calif. - A portion of West Marin County’s grassy rolling hills and coastal scrub, where cows have grazed since the 1850s, are newly designated national historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

The recognition of the Point Reyes Peninsula Dairy Ranches Historic District and the Olema Valley Dairy Ranches Historic District as nationally significant will inform the federal government plans for the future of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s north district.

The ranching history on the Point Reyes peninsula and the Olema Valley runs deep. By the 1870s, these ranches catapulted Marin County to the forefront of California’s butter and cheese production.

The 22,237-acre Point Reyes Peninsula Dairy Ranches Historic District, listed on the National Register in October 2018, consists of seventeen tenant-operated dairy ranches established by the Shafter and Howard families beginning in 1857. The 14,127-acre Olema Valley Dairy Ranches Historic District, between Bolinas and Point Reyes Station, was formally listed in April 2018 and includes nineteen properties operated by tenants or families beginning in 1856. Together, they reflect more than a century of change and modernization in the industry including the evolution from original wood frame milking barns to concrete Grade A sanitary barns of the 1940s.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts worthy of preservation. It provides formal recognition of a property’s architectural, historical, or archaeological significance and ensures those aspects are considered in planning state or federally assisted projects. It encourages preservation through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants.


The National Park Service has more than 20,000 employees who care for America’s 418 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve natural areas, share local history, and provide close-to-home recreational opportunities.
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Last updated: November 15, 2018

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