Beautifully engraved unissued Certificate from the Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company
dated 187_. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an operating lumber mill along a river. This item is
over 120 years old.
The demand for firewood and building lumber by the citizens and towns of the Santa Clara Valley produced a road over the summit from Saratoga to the San Lorenzo Valley in 1870. Prior to this entry, the Castle Rock area had been visited by tanbark choppers, hunters and an occasional settler in the lower or southern portion of what is now the park. A brief non financially rewarding "gold rush" rocked the upper San Lorenzo prospecting in 1855; was soon over, but did leave the earliest known place name - "Tin Can Springs." Potential mining claims would be made for the next six decades, but none proved valid. When the Saratoga-Pescadero Turnpike crossed the summit and headed down the San Lorenzo Valley the area was opened for settlement.
There were two earlier horse trails, apparently only occasionally used by horse back travelers. Neither trail allowed wheeled vehicles. Along Damon Ridge, there was a trail noted in federal survey records (1868) as the "Santa Clara" or "Santa Cruz Trail." The trail was irregular and difficult to trace in federal notes. A second trail was well known as it traversed the top of Pescadero Ridge from the gap at the summit to the "Waterman Gap" area. This trail was known for James "Buckskin" Lawrence, a professional hide hunter, who killed and cured deer skins for the glove industry in San Jose. Lawrence left the area in the early 1870s and the name slipped into obscurity. The two trails were used to give access from the summit into the game areas during hunting seasons when Nimrods after deer and trout or salmon trekked into the San Lorenzo "Gulch" or to Big Basin. Buckskin Lawrence Trail disappeared under the Carmichael and Hubbard Logging Company logging road, which became John W. Chace's road which became part of Highway Nine in 1916.
The Saratoga Toll Road crossed the "Gap" at Summit Ridge in 1870 and passed through the property (the extreme southern edge) of Casey Newhouse's 160 acres. That same year, authorized by the owners of the toll road, an easterner, William S. Brewer and his wife, leased a piece of Newhouse's property and built a toll station and developed a tavern, with bar, restaurant and "hotel." Brewer also built several barns, corrals, a feed lot and out buildings. For ten years, the family, Brewer, wife, son and daughter, struggled to survive on the operation of the rest stop and the percentages of the tolls he collected. The road was not heavily traveled except for wood products wagons which often featured dual outfits: two wagons and ten to twelve horses. Commercial ventures, such as stage coaches, failed regularly and there were few tourists who used the badly maintained, rutted, dusty (or muddy) route. Lumber wagons did dominate the toll road into the Santa Clara Valley through the early 20th Century.
In the fall of 1880 a major fire burned up Pescadero Canyon from sea shore to beyond the summit and wiped out "Brewer's Station." Brewer moved to Saratoga and opened a hardware store and lumber yard on the Saratoga to Santa Clara Road. John W. Peery, of Lorenzo, with a sawmill in Boulder Creek had managed the "San Lorenzo Road" as the toll road was officially referred to in Santa Cruz records, from 1874. In 1875, Santa Clara County declared the east half public and finally gained control in 1880 after the fire wiped out "Brewer's Station." Peery, in 1881, put a toll collector at the gap, but the station soon failed. The station collector did not collect enough tolls to pay his wages. And, the toll road only covered a little over eleven and a half miles. The southernmost toll gate was at G. Fergusson's Ranch and Fergusson collected the toll from his doorstep.
As work on the Saratoga Toll Road progressed down the north side of the upper San Lorenzo Valley, a squatter named Henry Tracy sold his 160 acres to a William H. Hall. The next year, Tracy purchased his claim from the federal government thereby making his sale to Hall legal. At a site just below the modern intersection of the Saratoga and "Beekhuis" Roads, Hall put in a roadside resort that served as a rest stop for travelers. No description of the facilities at "Hall's" has been found and only two references to the site have been located. Both notices were during the summer of 1875 by eastern excursionists traveling from Saratoga through the northern Santa Cruz Mountains to Santa Cruz.
"Hall's" was noted as providing refreshment for "horses and men." An examination of the ground and using other such road side rest stops of the era as a yard stick, one can project a possible image of the resort. Facing the Saratoga Road might have been a two-story structure; the upper floor was level with the road and probably featured a hash house and tavern. Wagons and buggies would be parked at the edge of the road next to the building. The lower floor could have been enclosed quarters for the owner or an opened faced storage area. A road would have passed between the tavern and out buildings to the rear. This road, or lane, is now part of the Beekhuis Road. The area to the rear of the station site is large enough for a barn, hay lot, corrals and small support buildings. Because descriptions are so meager, and no one recorded an over night stop, it is unknown if "Hall's" offered night time accommodations. Probably not, since a "hotel" was situated at the Gap five miles above, and the town of Lorenzo (now part of Boulder Creek) was only seventeen miles away. There is no mention of "Hall's" after 1876, and nothing seems to be at the site after 1880. It is very possible that the fire which wiped out "Brewer's" at the gap, also erased "Hall's" rest stop.
Santa Cruz County, reacting to John W. Peery of Lorenzo, operator of the toll road who wanted a 50-foot right-of-way, surveyed the "San Lorenzo Road" in 1885. The toll road section began at Station One, i.e., Fergusson's Ranch, and toiled up the eleven plus miles to the "Saratoga Gap." The last citizen with a farm-residence along the road was Lawrence Hollis, who lived in what is today the San Lorenzo Valley Water District property south of Waterman Gap. For some unexplained reason, the surveyors declared the abandoned Saratoga Gap toll house as "Station 360." They noted "no toll is collected here" nor had "anyone lived here for some time." John Peery finally gave up trying to enlarge the toll road or operate it and Santa Cruz County bought up the right-of-way, opening the road to the public in 1891. The county now accepted a 27-year continual struggle to maintain the road officially now known as the San Lorenzo Road.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the Castle Rock school district along Summit Road was in financial trouble. The county school superintendent did not wish to continue leasing the parcel where upon rested the school, and he wanted to abandon the school and attach it to the "San Lorenzo District" which had a school near Fergusson's Ranch. The County Board of Supervisors agreed and then changed their minds when Thomas Hubbard and Daniel and Neil Carmichael (Hubbard and Carmichael Lumber Company) donated a one acre lot and lumber for a school house. Local residents constructed the building, which also served as the election precinct house for Castle Rock. The school house apparently was southeast of the intersection of Saratoga and Summit Roads, or the south edge of the Cal-Trans Vista Point parking lot. The precinct, which was also nearly combined with North (or #2) Boulder Creek voting precinct in 1900, had thirteen registered voters and usually voted Republican on a 9-4 ratio.
Landowners came slowly. The first were speculators claiming the redwood forest between the San Lorenzo River and Pescadero Ridge (1870s). They were too early, for it would be a quarter of a century before Boulder Creek loggers pushed into the area. When the logging companies arrived in the mid-1890s, it took only five years to totally harvest the forest of "the San Lorenzo Gulch." This does not mean that parcels were not available for harvesting as the first sweeps claimed primarily redwoods. This left Douglas firs, for the fruit box industry in the Santa Clara valley and oaks and madrones for tanbark and firewood choppers. The last commercial logging in the Castle Rock area took place in the early-1970s.
Summit Ridge presented a different story south of where the Saratoga Road crossed over from Santa Clara to Santa Cruz County. The ridge and its slopes were remarkably bare of timber. Wood choppers supplying the cook fires and heating stoves of the valley to the east had worked up and over the ridge beginning in the late 1860s. By 1870 several families had squatted on the ridge to cut firewood and remained to file a patent under pressure from settlers or had moved on as the parcels were cleaned out. A trail, or narrow road, snaked along the top of Summit Ridge and naturally was called "Summit Road" (now Skyline Boulevard). A note of caution, there are three distinct historical "Summit" areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There is a summit district south of modern day Highway 17; a summit district north of Highway 17 to the Saratoga Gap and a summit district north of the intersection of Highway 9 and 35.
In the mid -1880s, farmers unable to afford property in the Santa Clara Valley, or speculators, began to claim land along the slopes of Summit Ridge. Taking Homestead Act of 1862 options or buying the land outright from the federal government, settlers of the domestic variety carved 120-160 acre farmsteads out of the open, dry, rocky soil. Vineyards and orchards of apples and pears were planted. On the fringes of these farms in areas not suitable for large scale orchards, a new breed of owner joined the community, the weekend recreationists. Some of these urban types bought the land on the speculation that lumber companies would buy the timber footage existing on their isolated pieces of property, or that having a parcel near a proposed road, particularly a new road leading to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, would lead to a community development. Two communities were planned; both failed. The "Indian Rock Ranch" community would not appear until the late 1960s. The majority of owners sought peace and quiet and relief from late 19th and early 20th century urban sprawl.
The opening of the San Lorenzo Branch of the Saratoga-Pescadero Toll Road developed the lumber-wood products business of the west slope and the north side of Castle Rock State Park. The peak of the Redwood lumber business lasted less than 30 years and a railroad from San Jose to Boulder Creek robbed any potential that the road would be a main artery of travel. The route was never a financial success nor was it a well-traveled connector of northern Santa Cruz County with the Santa Clara valley. Travelers and businessmen preferred the railroad via Boulder Creek, Felton, Los Gatos and San Jose. One of the nicest statements about the "Saratoga Road" was that "it was a miserable piece of work." The road needed constant, expensive repairs. A plan to construct a rail line through Summit Ridge from Campbell's Springs to the headwaters of the San Lorenzo at Deer Creek (King's Creek today) failed due to lack of financial support.
The acquisition of the Redwoods State Park (Big Basin Redwoods State Park) led a sixteen-year movement to create a highway which connected Saratoga and the Saratoga Gap with Big Basin down the top of Pescadero Ridge. The Sempervirens Club led the way and finally in 1916, following old horse trails and lumber roads, what became Highway 9 and 9A (into Big Basin) was carved into existence. The highway alignment has been widened and improved a number of times since 1927.
Other historic roads connected the Saratoga Toll Road or the Summit Road with the interior of future Castle Rock State Park, leading to the farms, wood lots or retreats of the various owners. The Smead-Damond-McDonald Road (Kings Creek Truck Trail) opened the south eastern half of the future park to orchards and cabins for deer hunting and summer quiet. The F.A. Hihn Company dramatically improved the road in 1907 from McDonald's to the summit. Louis Seek, a retired blue water sailor opened a road in 1884 that connected his one room cabin to the Saratoga Gap (now Indian Rock Ranch Road). Seek's property became the center of one of Archibald Francis McDuff Craig's many coastal holdings and Seek's little cabin was rebuilt as Craig's elaborate four room cottage named "Craigmore" after 1900. Craig built a new road in 1905-06, from the Moody and Partridge Farm area on the summit down to his cottage. The British-born San Francisco furniture merchant owned real estate from Sonoma to Santa Cruz County. The above three interior roads still remain and lead to various historic sites.
The continued growth of tourism into the Redwoods State Park, and its many civilian-owned concessions, overwhelmed its existing water system. A water source, named as "Craig's Springs," was developed on A.F. McDuff Craig's property in 1916 by the Santa Clara Valley Mill and Lumber Company
and connected by pipe with the new State Park. This water pipe, is still extant and no longer in use.
The agriculturists of Castle Rock fought a long battle of survival (1885-1960s). Lack of irrigation and weather conditions caused their produce to ripen late in the year, at the very end of canning season. Often the canneries were closed before wagons of apples, pears and grapes came down off Summit Road. World War II caused the Santa Clara Valley to start an unending change as industry took over from farm land. In the 1950s, the canning industry was caught in labor disputes plus the issue of continued unlimited supply of water for sewage disposal of by-products. Water for urbanization of the developing "Silicon Valley" won and canneries began to close. By 1955, the canneries of Santa Clara were no more. The few farmers left in the Castle Rock area turned to growing and the seasonal sale of Christmas trees. Today (1998) only one Christmas Tree farm is still in business outside the boundaries of the unit.
At some point in the early 20th century the James P. Loghry family purchased a denuded (or burnt over) ridge in the northern edge of the unit, just north of the Los Altos Gun Club. Loghry planted a selection of nonnative trees in what he considered to be a "demonstration" forest. In 1944, the family donated the acreage to the Department of State Forestry. Forestry declared the parcel a "State Forest," but apparently did little in the unit until the mid-1960s. The Loghrys continued to live there until the late 1940s or early 1950s when they moved to Santa Cruz. The Loghry house was still standing in 1966, but now only a crude fireplace-chimney, mantled in green moss, remains, and the pad where the house was once sited.
The era of the "Cold War" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union introduced a military facility at the Loghry residence area. The U.S. Navy, which conducted anti-Russian submarine patrols from Moffett Naval Air Station discovered that radio transmission directed from patrolling aircraft at sea to their headquarters at Moffett were blocked by the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Navy leased nine acres at Loghry State Forest and established a radio relay station on the highest point. Radio messages could now be sent from aircraft far off the coast and out of line of sight with Moffett Field. The Navy's complex consisted of a number of concrete-slab tilt-up buildings and radio antenna poles. A crew of four or five enlisted personnel manned the station. They were billeted in trailer houses as evidenced by the pads located north west of the facilities. Civilian access was prohibited and local citizenry today can recall seeing naval vehicles on the highways but know nothing about the operations which transpired there.
With the development of orbiting satellites, the relay station passed into obsolescence and the site was abandoned. The Department of Forestry then used several of the concrete buildings for fire suppression training. While the facility is now no longer used for fire training, the site is still sealed off from the public by a chain link fence which Forestry controls. Pipe and water diversion machinery are scattered about the area.
There was one last, but new type visitor, those that came for the beauty of a rejuvenating landscape. Starting as early as 1874, visitors could enjoy camping on the summit and a one or two day buggy ride along what was known as "Twenty-seven Mile Drive." (1874-1890?) By the end of the century, hikers were coming up the Saratoga Road from Congress Hall Lodge to the Summit. Seeing it at its most damaged, wide-open condition, they fell in love with the far reaching vistas and rugged, if torn, landscape. When Judge Joseph Welch of San Jose purchased a 60-acre parcel portion of Castle Rock Ridge in 1908, logging was stiff shattering the stillness down-slope. Logging would continue in some parcels until the early 1970s. However, Welch now made official what was once haphazard: "Castle Rock" and a few acres around the rock were available for those who enjoyed just the beauty of the world. Camping at the rock was allowed by Welch.
Partridge House - typical farm bungalow of the 1900-1935 era. This house is circa 1924 and represents the living style of the farmers of Summit Ridge (i.e., Castle Rock District) during the decades since 1900.
Saratoga Toll Road - While a financial failure, the road is historic due to its location in the northwestern portion of Santa Cruz County and its role in opening areas in this area to the lumber business and settlement patterns of Santa Clara County.
"Hall's Station" Site - A roadside rest stop on the Saratoga Toll Road, circa 1875-1880. No visible features, but may possess archeological artifacts to the understanding of the buildings that existed and the traffic on the road during the first decades of use.
Orchards - Smead's and Partridge: Part of the agricultural industry of apples, pears and grapes of Summit Ridge.
Smead-Damond-MacDonald Road, circa 1885 to present
Louis Seek Road, circa 1885-to present
James Archibald McDuff Craig Road, circa 1900-to present
These three historic roadways opened the interior of the unit primarily from Summit Ridge and Summit Road to farms, logging parcels, retreats and summer residences. Their routes trace primary inhabitancy patterns in Castle Rock State Park.
Tin Can Springs, Circa 1855 - The earliest historic site and place name in the unit. "Tin Can Springs" reflects the earliest economic pursuit in the unit, the short-lived "gold rush" of 1855.
There are a number of other minor historic sites of limited significance located in the unit. These are primary lumber products camps, noted by artificial flats, pads, trials and material cultural debris (commonly, "garbage") several recreational cabin-cottage sites, and cabin sites of former orchardists or absentee owners.
Most lumber camp sites are not deemed significance on a statewide basis. However, one shingle camp located on a minor tributary to King's Creek, but known at the time as "Deer Creek," as it passed through Hugh McDonald's property, has potential historic important as a preserved time clock to April 1906. Two brothers, were killed, and the camp buried on the morning of the great "San Francisco earthquake."
Cabin sites, for those enjoying recreation in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains, should be marked. These sites include the Louis Seek - A.F. Craig cabin-cottage site. Both areas feature locations of barns or outbuildings. Other sites might be the cabin sites of the sons of Serena Charlotta Smead, the cabin site of David A. MacDonald and his son Jerome McDonald. David changed the spelling of his name circa 1902. The cabin site of early homesteader Rosetta Damon has yet to be found.
The location of the Gap toll station, i.e., Brewer's Station, and the last Castle Rock District school and precinct house cannot be positively located due to modern road and parking lot improvements.