Zayante was named after a lost American Indian tribe, the Zayante Indians of the Ohlone Indians. The Zayantes lived off the berries and grain that grew naturally in the forested areas of Zayante/Lompico area, as well as fish from the local rivers and streams.
When Mission Santa Cruz opened its doors to the neighboring tribes, the peaceful Zayante Indians welcomed the invitation to be educated, clothed, fed, and housed by the Spanish. Their downfall was the western diseases that quickly reduced the Zayante population to a small remnant. Where those who survived Mission Santa Cruz went is not clearly known; however, it is believed that the last Zayante Indian died in 1934 and she rests in an unmarked grave within Henry Cowell State Park.
Joseph Majors acquired Rancho Zayante Lompico, the areas formerly belonging to the Zayante tribe and other Ohlone Indians. Isaac Graham, through Majors, built a sawmill by the Zayante Creek in 1841. At this mill, there was a single gold nugget found, six years before the gold rush, which Graham sold for $32,000.
Gold still sparkles in the area watersheds but is too costly to extract. The main commodity from the Zayante/Lompico area was not gold, but rather, the exclusively, Californian Redwood trees, felled and milled, for a developing Central California.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the area was basically clear cut, the timber industry waned and the Rancho was subdivided and sold to developers. Now, Zayante is home to a reservoir that supplies much of the county with water, a small fire station, a small ghost town, and many residents who enjoy the peace and solitude of area’s wooded hills and gleaming valleys.