McNears Beach Park

From Fishing Village to Public Park


Before European settlers arrived, McNears Beach was home to Coast Miwok villages that thrived on the bounty of the bay. In 1775 Spanish explorers founded Mission San Rafael Arcángel nearby. Over the next 100 years, the Coast Miwok suffered from fighting and disease.


After achieving independence from Spain, Mexico awarded vast tracts of American land. Timothy Murphy, an Irish settler who spoke fluent Spanish, gained Mexican citizenship and was viewed favorably by native tribes. He was granted 22,000 acres in 1844, and became the mayor of San Rafael. But at the end of his life he fell on hard times. After his death, the U. S. Land Commission denied Miwok tribes their claims to the land.


John and George McNear, brothers and local businessmen, acquired 700 acres of the lands in 1859. The McNear brothers built two houses, a stable, warehouse, and a general store. The family dairy was called the Marin Dell Milk Company. But the brothers feuded. John went on to acquire 2,440 acres in the area. During the 1880's, John and his son George McNear established a fashionable beach resort, called "The Glen", with a hotel, gardens, and dance hall. John partnered with his other son to create the McNear Brick Company. (This company is still in operation next to McNears Beach Park.) In 1955 the McNear family sold off parcels of land which became the nearby Glenwood and Peacock Gap neighborhoods.


In 1970, the County acquired 55 acres to create McNears Beach Park. The McNear brothers' original stable remains, and is now used as a Park Ranger office.

For more information about the history of McNears Beach visit: