Hwy 9

Guide to the San Lorenzo Valley & Santa Cruz Mountains


The first town on the journey away from the Pacific Ocean and the city of Santa Cruz is Felton. Highway 9 winds its way through the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains usually staying parallel to the San Lorenzo River.

[Felton Covered Bridge]

Felton was laid out by Edward Stanley in 1868. Stanley went on to be an influential politician. The logging industry was rapidly expanding, and Felton became an immediate transit hub. The longest wooden flume in California carried wood to waiting ships in Santa Cruz, covering more than 14 miles.

By the mid 1880s the lumber center had moved its way up the mountain to Boulder Creek. The running of the Southern Pacific Railway made the rich lumber more accessible. By the late 19th century and early 20th, Felton’s economic base had switched to limestone mining. Mural at the scene of the Farmer’s Market.

Most of these operations were owned by the Cowell family. In 1953, at the age of 92, Samuel H. Cowell donated the land to California that became Henry Cowell State Park (the original ranch buildings are on the portion of the gift which became the UCSC campus). The Cowells had amassed an enormous fortune in the construction materials industry and owned property in 15 counties.

Felton developed as a resort town, and lodges, hotels, summer camps and conference centers sprang up everywhere.

Courtesey Santa Cruz Mountains Guide

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