FINALE – East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur CA

SFD trestle.gif

Scorpio: “Jesus … what the hell is he doing up there.”

There were two urban landmarks that featured in this scene. The first was the Corte Madera Creek railway bridge (the “Dirty Harry trestle”) that Harry jumped onto the school bus from. The second was the Hutchinson Co quarry facility. The quarry is long gone and unfortunately so is most of the bridge.

2014 Further demolition of the Dirty Harry railway trestle on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Source: Marin Independent Journal 

The Corte Madera Creek railway bridge was reportedly built in 1923 by the Northwestern Pacific railroad (Source) . The bridge was substantially demolished in two phases. In 2003 the section that spanned East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (the section that Clint Eastwood jumped from) was removed. In 2014 most of the remaining section between East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and the Corte Madera Creek was demolished. In 2016 a new pedestrian-bike bridge opened where the “Dirty Harry trestle” used to be.

The new bridge lets you do two things; Firstly, you can stand above East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the spot where Clint Eastwood jumped from; Secondly, you can look at the remaining section of the original bridge.

01-30-47-101sfd

Scorpio: “There’s the sign that says Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, go right there.”
Marcella Platt: “Alright I’ll do it.”

In the 21st century, one the least recognisable locations from the movie is Greenbrae, California, or more particularly, East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Part of this area is known as Greenbrae, which is an unincorporated area of Marin County, while the rest of the city limit is in Larkspur City. The scene starts at the Greenbrae interchange, which is where the Redwood Highway (101) exits east onto East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

East Sir Francis Drake Bourlevard

2009 – East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

The area is pretty, there are plenty of walks along the Corte Madera creek, and in Spring the wildflowers are in bloom.

Wildflowers on the Corte Madera

Wildflowers on the Corte Madera

In 1971,  it was along this semi-rural stretch of boulevard that Harry jumped from the railway trestle onto the passing school bus before it crashed into the Hutchinson Co. quarry. He then chased Scorpio through the quarry before shooting him at the quarry lake.

SFD trestle jump.gif

1971 - Harry prepares to jump onto the bus

1971 – Harry prepares to jump onto the bus

The entire scene from the railway trestle to the quarry takes place in an area less than 1 mile long.

Since 1971, the entire district has been developed and the quarry has been levelled by a shopping mall, apartments and a  Courtyard Marriott hotel.

Although so much has gone, some remains of the railway trestle Harry jumps from, and the cliffs that once surrounded the lake, can still be seen. A road, built around where the lake was, is named Old Quarry Rd.

If you want to visit the trestle’s remains the closest physical address is 12 East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur CA. That building can also be seen in the film.

Looking east from 101 in 2009

Looking east from 101 in 2009 before the new bridge opened in 2016. The trestle remains on the right have since been mostly demolished.

The portion of the bridge that Harry jumped from was demolished in 2003 so that the road could be widened. A county Supervisor who voted to keep the bridge intact pointed out that Larkspur City‘s own studies showed that the road could be widened without demolishing the bridge.

In April 2016 a new bike and pedestrian bridge that follows the line of the “Dirty Harry trestle” opened. The new bridge provides a great view of the remaining section of the “Dirty Harry Trestle”:

Dirty Harry trestle remains from the new bridge April 2016

Remains of the “Dirty Harry trestle” from the new bridge across East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (Source: Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

So while it’s disappointing to find the trestle largely gone, it’s great to discover a portion is still there, and you can walk right up to it, smell the creosote, and explore.

trestle22

Standing under the bridge in 2009.

Traffic at the Greenbrae interchange is now very busy, and there were plenty of school buses passing by the day I went there, including this one that had perfect timing (below):

Heading east toward the long gone Hutchinson Co Quarry

A school bus heads east toward the long gone Hutchinson Co quarry and at the exact spot Clint Eastwood jumped from.

Most of the offramp at the interchange is unchanged. The curbside, where the 101 off-ramp enters Sir Francis Drake, has been remodelled slightly but it’s still in the same position as the day Marcella Platt nearly collided with the VW Beetle.

The curbside behind the Beetle is still there in 2009

The 1971 curbside behind the Beetle (above) and the same lane via Google StreetView now (below).

You can see the Redwood Highway (101) and the same curb behind Harry at 01:31:33 after he jumped from the railway trestle.

The curb behind Harry as he jumps from the trestle

The curb behind Harry as he jumps from the trestle

The bus continued east along Sir Francis Drake and at left were two small buildings while Mt Tamalpais is centre in the distance.

1971, Buildings at left and Mt Tamaplais at centre

Scorpio: “What the hell are you doing, pass the VW, pass it will you!!”
1971, Buildings at left and Mt Tamaplais at centre

There are still two buildings on the same site, but they look as if they’ve been completely renovated.

One of these is 12 East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard which as Harry passed by in 1971 had a sign on it saying Pacific Coast Insulation Co.

1971, Pacific Coast Insulation Co

1971, at 12 E Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Pacific Coast Insulation Co

In 2009, 12 E Sir Francis Drake (circled), highway 101 behind, and Mt Tamalpais

In 2009, 12 E Sir Francis Drake (circled), highway 101 behind, and Mt Tamalpais

At frame 01:32:19, where the bus leaves the road and enters the quarry, there’s a split second view back up Sir Francis Drake toward 101 as it looked in 1971. 12 E Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is a white blur at left (below).

Looking back up Sir Francis Drake toward 101 from the quarry in 1971

Looking back up Sir Francis Drake toward 101 from the quarry in 1971

Here’s a similar view (below) in 2009.

Looking back to 101 in 2009

Looking back to 101 in 2009

The photos below were taken in 2009 when more of the trestle remained.trestle1trestle3

trestle4

trestle5

trestle7trestle6
trestle8

Visiting the railway trestle is very easy from San Francisco. Golden Gate Ferry operates services to Larkspur Landing from the San Francisco Ferry Building.  The trip takes 30-40 minutes and for only a few dollars each way gives great views of the Bay Area.

Ferry Service guide 2009 - San Francisco to Larkspur cost $7.45

Ferry Service guide 2009 – San Francisco to Larkspur then cost $7.45

When you step off the ferry in Larkspur, go left on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard – follow any sign that says ‘Corte Madera’ or ‘Downtown Larkpsur’. You’ll see what remains of the trestle across the Corte Madera in only a few minutes.

Capture Marin has some excellent aerial footage of the trestle remains and surrounding area:

Follow 'Corte Madera' and 'Downtown Larkspur' signs to the trestle by 12 SFD Blvd

Follow ‘Corte Madera’ and ‘Downtown Larkspur’ signs to the trestle by 12 SFD Blvd

NEXT>>  FINALE – Hutchinson Co. Quarry, Larkspur Landing, CA

12 Responses to FINALE – East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur CA

  1. Rebicca says:

    Good job on your blog.

  2. Sasha says:

    Good blog. Can’t wait to start my own blog.

  3. boomerd35 says:

    Dang. Need to get there before they tear down the rest of that rail bridge.

  4. Tharris says:

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

  5. Mike Taylor says:

    Superb location work – thanks a great deal. I love looking at then and now shots. You deserve great credit for doing this.

  6. Fergus says:

    Fascinating pictures. Really enjoying them. Thanks very much for all this.

  7. Bill says:

    Thanks for the photos, I went to this area only a week ago after returning from NY to take photo’s myself.I had see the site from 101 north a few times and was sure it was the location.
    You blog help put all in perspective

  8. tim says:

    I have some great pics from some of these sites …
    Telephone booth, hamburger stand, aquatic park: there were still 2 phones there when I went (2006?), though not full booths – just freestanding phones.
    Also a few shots of the rooftop pool from the Carnelian Room atop the Bank of America Building …
    and more.

  9. roger says:

    One thing hasn’t changed (yet)…the huge button-copy freeway sign shown in the first frame grab above is still there. Sadly it will eventually be replaced as Caltrans moves to the new light green reflective signs.

  10. Stormy says:

    Hello! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  11. roger says:

    Sad to report they are dismantling the rest of the railroad trestle. I went through here last month and much of the remaining portion next to Sir Francis Drake is gone, and all that was left at that time was a small remnant near the water. I will be going through again in a few weeks and I’m betting it will all be gone.

    • Dirty Harry Filming Locations says:

      Such a shame. It’s been a couple of years since my last visit and I can still smell the creosote.

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