Lompico has a fascinating history that spans back hundreds
of years to when the Zayante
Indians were the only people in the area. The arrival
of the Spanish to the
area brought on the era of Ranchos
and a local gold rush.
As more settlers arrived to the area, the logging
generation took hold and the eventual creation of Lompico
in 1927 as we know it today. The 1950s brought the Loch
Lomond Lake and rising home prices. The 1960s brought
the hippy generation to Lompico as famous performers
such as Jerry Garcia,
of the Grateful Dead, and Janis
Joplin sought musical inspiration in the redwood
forests around Lompico Creek. These days, Lompico is
home to high-tech Silicon
Valley workers that enjoy the beautiful surroundings
and the relaxing commute.
Lompico's history spans back hundreds of years to when
the Zayante Indians, a local tribe of the Ohlone Indians,
originally inhabited the area. Early history of the
area recalls the Zayante people finding shelter and
game in the plentiful forests around Lompico. The area
provided them with enough acorns, fish from Lompico
and Newell Creek, and small game to live a peaceful,
easy life. Temascals (saunas), songs, and games were
the rule, while fighting and thievery the exception.
In 1769 the Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola
discovered the land area which is now known as the City
of Santa Cruz. When he came upon the beautiful flowing
river, he named it San Lorenzo in honor of Saint Lawrence.
He called the rolling hills above the river Santa Cruz,
which means holy cross. Twenty-two years later, in 1791,
Father Fermin de Lasuen established a mission at Santa
Cruz, the twelfth mission to be founded in California.
Over the next 20 years word spread throughout the Ohlone
Indian tribes, including the Zayante Indians, that the
Santa Cruz Mission would provide food, shelter and education
if they came to live at the mission. This was a lucrative
offer that was hard to turn down and over time most
of the Indians chose to live at the mission. Unfortunately,
Western diseases decimated the Indian populace and only
small groups remained after 1820.
They say that the
very last of the Zayante people was a woman who
lived for many years beside Zayante Creek. When she
died in 1934, she was buried somewhere among the giant
redwoods in Henry Cowell Park. Her grave, like her people,
is lost now, but we can always remember these wonderful
people when we look at the Missions that they helped
The Spaniards considered all of Santa Cruz County to
be their sovereign property and the few remaining Ohlone
and Zayante Indians were not enough to keep them from
subdividing the land into Ranchos. The Lompico area
became part of the Rancho
Zayante, which was granted by Mexico in 1834 to
Joaquin Buelna and consisted of 2,658 acres just north
of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
The next year he let his claim lapse and in 1836 Isaac
Graham, with his friend Henry Neale, acquired Rancho
Zayante and the adjoining San Augustine Rancho via Joseph
Majors, who had the required Mexican citizenship in
order to be granted a Rancho.
In 1841, Majors, Graham, a German named Frederick Hoeger,
and a Dane named Peter Lassen, agreed to erect a mill
on Zayante Creek near where it enters the San Lorenzo
River. This was reputed to be the first power sawmill
in California and was used to mill trees from Lompico.
While building the mill (six years before discovery
of gold at a saw mill being constructed in Coloma which
resulted in the California gold rush), Isaac Graham
single gold nugget worth $32,000. In comparison,
the flake that set off the California gold rush was
no larger than ones little finger nail. In 1855
again was discovered along Zayante Creek in what
is known today as Henry Cowell State Park. During the
summer of that year, miners realized three to ten dollars
a day for their efforts and the gold panning fever spread
throughout the San Lorenzo Valley and up into Zayante
Creek and its tributaries, including Lompico Creek.
Much gold still remains in these creeks but is too cost
prohibitive to extract.
By the 1850s, Felton became the hub of the logging
industry and the coastal redwood trees that blanketed
Lompico became the areas largest export. Early loggers
described the area around Lompico as dense, nearly impenetrable
redwood forests, howling canyons, and frequent encounters
with ferocious grizzly bears, the last of which, a silvertip
sow, is said to have been killed near Bonny Doon in
the late 1880s. They also struggled with a lack of access
and suitable transportation for the timber. Eventually
the original trusty oxen were replaced by wood burning
donkey engines, of which some tracks can still be found
today in Lompico. Between 1890 and 1900 the entire area
around Lompico was clear cut and the forest is now in
the process of reestablishing itself on the young, steep
slopes of marine sedimentary rock common to the California
Most of the San Lorenzo Valley's timber was cut by
the early 1900's however, and by 1915 all of the large
companies had stopped logging in the area.
While the logging era may have ended in 1915, it left
us with a great local attraction, the Roaring
Camp Railroad. The railroad now transports tourists
from Felton down through the Henry Cowell Redwood Forest
to the Santa
As with most of the San Lorenzo Valley, once the logging
era ended, the old Rancho Zayante was subdivided and
sold off to land developers who created the neighborhoods
of Olympia, Zayante and Lompico.
Lompico was officially founded on August 17, 1927 and
was well publicized in the San Jose and San Francisco
papers. To help get the word out about Lompico, the
land developers worked out a promotion with the San
Francisco Chronicle that for every new subscription
to the paper, one free plot of land would be granted.
There were only a dozen or so plots actually "given
away," but the promotion successfully drew large
amounts of buyers to Lompico.
Most of the purchasers of land tracts in Lompico were
wealthy San Franciscans that were looking for a place
close to the beaches of Santa Cruz, yet in the relaxing,
bucolic Santa Cruz Mountains, to build their summer
homes. The development of Lompico also enticed people
from other parts of the Bay area and from the many hot
inland valleys, who flocked to the shady, creek filled
haven of the Lompico. In the early days of Lompico (1920s
- 1940s), Lompico had its own brass band, and there
were numerous evening concerts in Lompico Park.
Up until the 1950s Lompico was a rustic vacation spot,
aided by a nearby rail link to San Francisco. Parents
enjoyed drinks at the Lompico Club House, while their children
played in a spacious freshwater pool.
Click to enlarge image
In the post-World War II era, the city of Santa Cruz
began to grow at an extremely fast pace. To address
the need for new sources of drinking water, in the late
1950s the city began searching for possible new water
sources. Lompico became the center of attention throughout
Santa Cruz County as a large piece of land on the West
side, which was owned by a succession of wealthy families,
among them was Addison Newell, the man after whom the
creek running through the property was named, was purchased
by the City of Santa Cruz for $1.5 million. On the property,
the City of Santa Cruz created a man made lake that
would supply Santa Cruz with all their water needs.
The man made lake, which became known as Loch
Lomond Lake, not only benefited Santa Cruz but also
Lompico by providing it with its largest park, full
of hiking, biking
and running trails, and an 87 acre lake stocked
with Bass, Trout
and Bluegill. As a result of all these improvements
to the area, Lompico property prices jumped up in 1963
when the Loch Lomond Lake Park opened.
While the Loch Lomond Lake was being built, a large
fire burned through parts of the park. If you look closely,
you can still see some scars on the fire-retardant coastal
In the 1960s, Lompico again gained notoriety as it
took center stage to the hippy generation as famous
people such as Jerry
Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin sought
musical inspiration in the redwood forests along Lompico
Jerry Garcia's family owned a house in Lompico and
it was in Lompico, at the age of four, where Jerry had
his right middle finger chopped off by his brother.
His brother Tiff was chopping wood, and Jerry may have
been fooling around when he failed to move his finger
fast enough from the descending ax blade. Jerry mostly
remembers the shock of a buzzing sound vibrating in
his ears during the drive to the local doctor's office.
Unfortunately, reattachment, common today, was apparently
not an option then for Jerry was surprised to discover
that he had lost two thirds of his middle finger when
the bandages came off in the bathtub sometime later.
Jerry Garcia's brother, Tiff, put the incident clearly,
"We'd been given a chore to do...he'd hold the
wood and I'd chop it...he was [messing] around and I
was just constantly chopping." Local legend has
it that Jerry Garcia's finger is still somewhere in
In the 1960s, it was very common to see Jerry, Daniel
and Tiff playing some Wilbur Harrison tunes up on the
Lompico Club House (a.k.a. The Dog House) dance floor on warm summer nights. Jerry
and Daniel would play guitar and Tiff would beat on
a cymbal and a box. This trio became locally known as
the "Garcia Brothers" and were well enjoyed
at the old Lompico Club House and down by the Lompico Creek
where they would jam from time to time.
At the far Northern end of Lompico is a large plot
of land known as Islandia. This serene section not only
is the headwaters for Lompico Creek, but once contained
a large, beautiful house that became extremely popular
in the 1960s. Most famous of its residents was Janis
Joplin who would jam with her group, "Big Brother
and the Holding Company." Janis often spoke of
the redwood forest around Lompico as being divine inspiration
for her music.
In the 1980s, Lompico went through another transformation
as the growth spurt in nearby Silicon
Valley and its accompanying housing requirements
started a trend which continues to the present. Many
of the summer homes of the wealthy were soon converted
to year-round homes by workers who were happy to find
homes at lower prices in such beautiful surroundings.
The beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains not only attracted
many full-time employees looking for affordable housing,
but also many of the high tech business of Silicon Valley.
There are too many to list them all, but here's the