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Marin County is one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. The origin of the county's name is not clear. One version is the county was named for Chief Marin, of the Coast Miwok, Licatiut tribe of Native Americans who inhabited that section and waged fierce battle against the early Spanish military explorers. The other version is that the bay between San Pedro and San Quentín points was named Bahía de Nuestra Señora del Rosario la Marinera in 1775, and it is quite possible that Marin is simply an abbreviation of this name. The Coast Miwok Indians were hunters and gatherers whose ancestors had occupied the area for thousands of years. About 600 village sites have been identified in the county. The English explorer and privateer, Sir Francis Drake and the crew of the Golden Hind was thought to have landed on the Marin coast in 1579 claiming the land as Nova Albion. A bronze plaque inscribed with Drake's claim to the new lands, fitting the description in Drake's own account, was discovered in 1933. This so-called Drake's Plate of Brass was later declared a hoax. In 1595 Sebastian Cermeno lost his ship, the San Agustin, while exploring the Marin Coast. The Spanish explorer Viscaino landed about twenty years after Drake in what is now called Drake's Bay. However the first Spanish settlement in Marin was not established until 1817 when Mission San Rafael Archangel was founded partly in response to the Russian-built Fort Ross to the north in what is now Sonoma county. Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial Mexican province of Alta California by four priests, Father Narciso Duran from Mission San Jose, Father Abella from Mission San Francisco de Asís, Father Gil y Taboada and Father Mariano Payeras, the President of the Missions, on Dec. 14, 1817, four years before Mexico gained independence from Spain. [source:]

County Seat: San Rafael
Year Organized: 1850
Square Miles: 828

Bay facing Sausalito
circa about 1895 to 1906


Belvedere * Corte Madera * Fairfax  * Larkspur  * Mill Valley * Muir Woods
Novato * Ross  * San Anselmo * San Rafael * Sausalito * Tiburon


Contra Costa County, CA - San Francisco County, CA
Sonoma County, CA

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