Blackie was a horse. Not a “Seabiscuit” by any means. Nor one of the great war horses that are usually depicted in statuary around the world, but a somewhat old and tired nag. His swayed back was so weak that his belly almost touched the ground. But Blackie was Tiburon’s horse. The children loved him, even though he responded by doing nothing but standing immobile in his pasture as he had done for 28 years.
Stories abound about Blackie before he arrived in his pasture. He was old for a horse even then. He had been a prized saddle horse and later had been “cutting horse” in rodeos. There was even stories that put Blackie in the U.S. Cavalry at one time.
In 1966 he was at least forty years old when one day the kids ran home with the distressing news that Blackie had fallen down and couldn’t get up. Responding adults called a veterinarian who decided that he would never get up again and Blackie’s long life came to an end. Some men went to a nearby construction site and came back with a bulldozer and a back hoe. The health department, they say, was closed that day (nobody knows why) so they were able to bury Blackie in his pasture.
The children who loved Blackie so much built a white picket fence around his grave site, and placed a white cross on it, although no one was sure of Blackie’s religious preferences. If the kids wanted it it remained. To this day cars stop near the grave while total strangers approach the site and drop a sugar cube or plant a stub of carrot.
When Tiburon’s first mayor and one of Town’s founders died a small notice on page 9 of section B appeared in San Francisco’s leading newspapers, but Blackie’s death made the front pages, above the fold, with a picture, in both papers. Horse magazines around the country ran cover stories, and unsolicited funds poured in to build a memorial to Blackie. At first it was just a bronze plaque mounted on a large rock, but that did not do justice to so famous a horse, so “Blackie’s Brigade” was formed to raise funds for a life size statue, the statue that now stands, as Blackie did, immobile, in Blackie’s Pasture.
The large mound behind Blackie’s grave was part of the trestle across Tiburon Boulevard built for the SF & North Pacific Railroad. The railroad right-of-way has been converted into a multi-use path from downtown Tiburon to Blackie’s Pasture. This scenic route of about three miles passes the Belvedere Lagoon, the Richardson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, several parks, and the Tiburon Audubon Center and Lyford House. Pedestrians and bicyclists are welcome, but no motor vehicles, please.
Photo courtesy of the Landmarks History Collections