Century-old Dipsea Photos donated by the Coyne Family

Lloyd Coyne showing scrapbook of Dipsea photos taken by his father Raymond of his uncle Lynus at Dipsea race in 1920s

Lloyd and Nancy Coyne of El Cerrito admit they have never walked the entire Dipsea trail or ever watched the Dipsea race, but they are forever linked to the history of the Dipsea.

That's because Lloyd's father, Raymond, plus his Uncle Lynus and Aunt Miriam all competed in the Dipsea in the 1920s and they have proof. Lynus was the star runner in the family and Raymond was the photographer.

Fortunately, Raymond Coyne's Dipsea photos have been preserved, gifted, and are now in the process of being digitalized for the Dipsea in great part because of Lloyd and Nancy and some serious house cleaning years ago that accidently stumbled upon the previous unseen Dipsea photos.

Otherwise, Nancy says, "We could have thrown all this stuff out."

Raymond, who died in 1978, stored the photo negatives, photos and two Shuteye News journals. There were landscape photos of Mt. Tam, the Mountain Play, the Dipsea Trail and Willow Camp, where Raymond, Lynus, and Miriam would camp out overnight before the Dipsea Race. They would take a ferry from Oakland and a train to Mill Valley.

Lloyd and Nancy never saw the photos until after Lynus died in 1994, but they had heard tales of the Dipsea race for years.

"The boys and Miriam were very adventuresome and Eda, who married Lynus, was from a very prim and proper family," Nancy says. "I was told the story by Eda that Dennis, the boys father told Eda, 'I don't ever want to hear that you ran that race. That's not where you belong.' "

Apparently Miriam felt she belonged, though it is unclear if she competed in the Women's Dipsea Hikes from 1918 to 1922.

"I didn't know women ran in the Dipsea back then. It was pretty wild, I guess," Nancy says.

Even wilder was the fact that some 70 years later Nancy and Lloyd discovered a treasure of some 500 photo negatives of photos taken by Raymond from 1918-1922. His photographs also included hiking and camping scenes in Marin County and the San Francisco Bay Area, family photographs, and other scenes near his Oakland home including the Oakland streetcar strike of 1919.

In 2010, before the 100th Dipsea race, Lloyd and Nancy turned boxes of the photos and negatives over to the Dipsea Race Committee, which passed them onto the Mill Valley Historical Society. In January of this year, Cate Mayfield, then Archivist and Librarian in the Lucretia Little History Room in the Mill Valley Public Library, submitted the Coyne family materials to California Revealed for digitalization.

Lloyd has competed in the Bay to Breakers with two of his three daughters. Each of them wore T-shirts they made which featured a panel of four items; letter letter `S' , a photo of a nail, the letter 'P',and the photo of a playing card, the ace the spades (Snail's Pace, get it?) but none of them have ever competed in the Dipsea.

Lloyd, however, recalls being on the Dipsea trail with his dog on the famed Dipsea Stairs. "It's like a ladder," he says.

Nancy, too, has seen the Dipsea Stairs and she can't imagine how Raymond, Lynus, and Miriam managed to get from bottom to top in Mill Valley on their way to the finish line of the Dipsea in Stinson Beach. They talked about it all the time.