A Glimpse at Scotts Valley's History

By Marion Pokriots (originally printed in 1988)

Scotts Valley, located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, has an important and historically significant past. Archaeologists have recently discovered artifacts in the valley used between eight and twelve thousand years ago by Paleo Indians. These early residents lived on the shores of an ancient Pleistocene lake, which covered an area near the site of the new Scotts Valley Civic Center complex.

Recorded history reveals that during Spanish-Mexican days the valley was known as the Rancho San Agustin. The 4,436-acre tract was granted to Jose Antonio Bolcoff, a Russian-born sailor who became a Mexican citizen and married into the prominent Castro family of Santa Cruz. In 1836 he was living on the San Agustin with his wife, Candida, their children and Candida's sisters, Jacinta and Maria de los Angeles Castro.

After Bolcoff was appointed administrator of the Missions Santa Cruz, he abandoned his rancho. In 1841 Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted the Rancho San Agustin to Bolcoff's American brother-in-law, Joseph Ladd Majors. Majors, a Tennessee trapper, was one of Isaac Graham's Rifleros Americanos who had aided Governor Alvarado and General Castro in their 1836 revolution. In 1838 he was living on the Rancho Zayante (Felton), where he and Job Dye were partners in a distillery. In 1839 Joseph was united in marriage to Maria de los Angeles Castro.

Soon after acquiring the San Agustin, Majors built a gristmill that ground wheat for residents of the Santa Clara Valley and for the establishment of Thomas O. Larkin in Monterey. His adobe on the rancho was used more than once as a fortress for American and British residents when local Mexican authorities threatened to rid the Santa Cruz region of its mounting "foreign" population.
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By 1843 Paul Sweet, a Rhode Island sailor, was operating California's first commercial tannery on major's rancho in an area between Lockewood Lane and Lockhart Gulch. The prevalence of tanbark oaks in the Santa Cruz Mountains played an important part in the emergence of the tanning industry in Santa Cruz County.

Hiram Scott The American occupation of Alta California brought changes to Scotts Valley. Majors was chosen alcalde (mayor) of Santa Cruz and was later elected county treasurer. By 1850 he was ready to sell his large valley holdings. Hiram Scott, a young Maine seaman turned gold miner, wished to purchase the ranch. Scott started making payments on the San Agustin in 1852 and soon sent for his relatives in Maine. During the 1850s the valley was inhabited solely by the Scotts and the region become known as Scotts Valley.

In those years, horses and cattle roamed the countryside. Arable land was sown to grain, which was hauled to Santa Cruz by ox teams and then shipped to San Francisco by schooner. Grizzly bears and dear populated the valley and the quail were numberless.

It wasn't long before Hiram and his family started to sell off portions of the rancho. Many of these buyers were British immigrants. Northumberland-born Joseph Errington had operated a dairy near Granite Creek Road, later known as the Live Oak Dairy. Errington's sister and her husband John Dagleas operated another dairy on the west side of Carbonera Creek, which was eventually purchased by the Thomsons, who were also from England. Samuel Lockhart, a Manchester man, was active in lumbering in the Lockhart in the early history of San Francisco, purchased extensive holdings in Glen Canyon. George Chappell, an English sailor who had been exiled to Mexico with Graham in 1840, owned four hundred acres between the Mount Hermon overpass and Rancho Carbonera.

Others from the United States and European countries also came to the valley. Samuel Dickens, a North Carolina lumberman, bought acreage along both sides of Mount Hermon Road. Dickens' eleven hundred acres were later sold to David Morrill Locke, a New Hampshire Forty-niner who had made his fortune selling water to San Franciscans during the gold rush and through various business enterprises in Knight's Ferry. Locke's Springvale Dairy was considered a tourist attraction and was the largest dairy operation in the valley. Locke donated two acres of his land to the Scotts Valley school district at Scotts Valley Drive and Bean Creek Road. The school became the center for both educational and social activities in the community.

Stagecoaches ran twice daily through Scotts Valley, where drivers stopped to change horses at the Scott house and later at the Hendricks' ranch (near the intersection of Whispering Pines Drive and Mount Hermon Road). A toll gate crossed Glenwood Drive near Canham Road. Glenwood Drive was the only "way to San Jose" without riding to Soquel in the early days.

The rancho remained predominately a farming and dairy region until the 1930s. Butter, milk, cheese, apples, grapes and poultry were the main products sold by local residents.

During the Great Depression , the land was put to more diversified uses. The J. Jackson Graham family sold the peat on their property along Mount Hermon Road to gardenia growers. The Young family moved their Santa Cruz mushroom business to the Lockewood Lane area. Eberhardt, Rose and Houghton planted tracts of blueberries between Whispering Pines Drive and Lockewood Lane and Marion Hollins built her polo stables near Santa's Village (present-day Borland).

The climate and beauty of the area attracted tourists and industries associated with tourism soon developed. A camp was established by the Evers family, which boasted a store, a gas pump, two cabins and spaces for tents. The Swedish Evangelical Missionary Association built a conference center in beautiful Lockhart Gulch. Agnes Archibald developed a mini-zoo and resort on Scotts Valley Drive called Beverly Gardens, which attracted people from the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Movie companies found the valley a delightful place for location sites. The old and established Summer Home Farm resort on Bean Creek was purchased by the Salvation Army and renamed Camp Redwood Glen. Eventually, the Tree Circus, Sorensen's Wax Museum and Santa's Village attracted vacationers on their way to local beaches and parks.

Shortly after the freeway was opened in the mid-1950's, Scotts Valley went into the doldrums. Businesses along Scotts Valley Drive (the old Los Gatos Highway) folded. When a group of investors pushed for a large cemetery just off the freeway and the City of Santa Cruz moved forward with plans to annex Scotts Valley, the community became alarmed.

Residents soon began discussing "home rule" and incorporation. Papers for incorporation were drawn up in 1963, and a measure to incorporate was passed in 1964. However it wasn't until August 2, 1966, that Scotts Valley officially became a city. Mayor Bill Graham presided over the first city council and Friend Stone served as the valley's first City Administrator.

Today the city throbs with activity. Six shopping centers serve the populace, as well as people from outlying areas. Beautiful mobile home parks, subdivisions and condominiums have brought new people to the area. With at least ten major electronic firms, the valley has leaped into the High-Tech Age. History is being made on a daily basis in the youthful city of Scotts Valley!