Rainbow, Waldo or Robin Williams?

To some of us, this is the Rainbow Tunnel just a few miles north of the world-famous landmark called Golden Gate Bridge. This tunnel on US 101 is actually called the...

To some of us, this is the Rainbow Tunnel just a few miles north of the world-famous landmark called Golden Gate Bridge. This tunnel on US 101 is actually called the Waldo Tunnel, supposedly named after a politician of the 1850s.

Now, this tunnel in Marin County may have a change of name and if it does, methinks it will end up on the tourist map.

Last heard, a good number of Californians were working on a petition to rename this tunnel  in honour of Hollywood actor and comedian Robin Williams, who recently made his final ‘exit.’

I had often wondered why this tunnel on 101 had a rainbow-coloured entrance. I finally did some research and found that a Caltrans* senior official ordered it to be painted this way because it reminded him of a rainbow. That is said to have been in 1970.

These pictures are from 2012, from our drive to Stinson Beach, a few miles northwest of this tunnel.

Inside the Waldo Tunnel

*California Department of Transportation

This post is linked to:

  • See a (real) Double Rainbow HERE 
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24 Comments on this post.
  • Su-sieee! Mac
    27 August 2014 at 1:14 am
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    I signed the petition to rename the tunnel after Robin Williams. I think it would be perfect. I read somewhere that the tunnel actually doesn't have a name. Supposedly people call it Waldo Tunnel because of the Waldo Grade. Makes sense. Hopefully, the powers that be will formally name it after Robin who gave so many of us joy.
    Take 25 to Hollister

    • dNambiar
      27 August 2014 at 10:23 am
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      Good job! πŸ™‚
      And I came across a piece that said that Waldo is tunnel's 'unofficial' name. I like the idea of calling it the Rainbow tunnel the Robin William tunnel. It really is a happy sight on that route. I'm sure more people would want to see it, now, and that way those colours on it will be well taken care of. πŸ™‚

  • Prasad Np
    27 August 2014 at 5:42 pm
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    I am not much of a fan of changing names of existing places, but I guess I would make an exception for Robin Williams… RIP ….

    • dNambiar
      28 August 2014 at 5:08 pm
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      This does sound right, right? The rainbow tunnel after Robin Williams?!

  • Molly
    28 August 2014 at 10:02 am
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    Oh wow I LOVE this rainbow tunnel… so cool


    • dNambiar
      28 August 2014 at 5:09 pm
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      Isn't it?
      Thank you for stopping by, Molly. πŸ™‚

  • Rahul Bhatia
    28 August 2014 at 10:54 am
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    Lovely write up and pics , Divya!

    • dNambiar
      28 August 2014 at 5:09 pm
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      Thank you so much. πŸ™‚

  • Mridula
    28 August 2014 at 5:44 pm
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    It looks pretty in the first picture, and I guess the name change would make it a tourist attraction as well!

    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 10:48 am
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      You bet. Even without a big name attached to it, the tunnel makes people want to stop and have a good look at it, only that's not really possible.
      Now if this becomes an attraction, maybe there'll be a 'look out.' πŸ™‚

      Thank you Mridula.

  • magiceye
    29 August 2014 at 1:08 am
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    Love the stories behind these fascinating structures πŸ™‚

    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 10:50 am
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      For this one it might be that Robin Williams often drove this way. Some people say, the tunnel could be associated with the rainbow suspenders that Williams made famous. πŸ™‚

  • Paresh Kale
    29 August 2014 at 5:15 am
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    Creative !

  • umashankar
    29 August 2014 at 9:50 am
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    Then a century down, assuming humans would still form a group, they'll petition to have it named 'Oryx & Crake Tunnel'.

    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 10:56 am
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      You never know! πŸ™‚
      For now, Robin Williams sounds good, doesn't it? πŸ™‚

      Looks like there's another book to add to the already long wishlist. And I'm eagerly looking forward to yours, USP.

  • Kusum Sanu
    29 August 2014 at 9:55 am
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    I have passed through this bridge million times, never knew the name! Interesting post πŸ™‚

    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 10:57 am
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      I read somewhere that this is the unofficial name. To me, it's always been the rainbow tunnel.

  • AmitAag
    29 August 2014 at 10:19 am
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    Amazing tunnel! Thank you Divya:)

    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 11:00 am
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      Tunnels very often make me think of the people who chiseled it out and what a big job it might have been. They are amazing.

      Thank YOU, Amit.

  • My Unfinished Life
    30 August 2014 at 7:20 am
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    I ask – whats in a name?? when it looks so pretty. The official who painted in rainbow colors had quite a lovely imagination!!


    • dNambiar
      2 September 2014 at 11:02 am
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      So pretty, a happy sight, really.
      It soon might remind people of one man who made many people happy. πŸ™‚

      I hope you are doing well, Sush. πŸ™‚

  • travelrage
    6 September 2014 at 1:18 am
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    How come I have never seen this. 101N or 101 S? And before of after Golden Gate?

    • dNambiar
      10 September 2014 at 4:43 pm
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      You've probably been through this, NS.
      For you — 101 N. after the Golden Gate Bridge.
      It's before the the place where SR1 and US 101 fork.

    Leave a Reply



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