What’s in a Name: West Marin’s Hog Island

It’s a popular oyster spot; it’s also a 2-acre islet in Tomales Bay… but where does the name “Hog Island” come from? Yes, a quahog is a clam, but turns out that the “hog” etymology is unrelated.

It’s been reported that the name actually stems from a cartoonish incident that took place in the late 19th century. As the story has it, in the 1870s a barge filled with pigs caught fire nearby and was run aground to prevent sinking. Once landed, the pigs fled the barge and ran loose on the island before being captured. This, apparently, was significant enough of an event to warrant a permanent name, even though today most people think of oysters when they hear “Hog Island.” 

Today, the island is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. The east side of the island is protected, and during the spring, the island is closed for harbor seal pupping season.

Want to read more about the oysters that have made the island famous? Read up on Hog Island Oyster Co. in our article on sustainable seafood, or about when Tony’s Seafood joined the fold.

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Kasia Pawlowska

Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is never-ending.