Aptos History Museum
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Ca. 7000 BC Indians lived in Santa Cruz County

Ca. 1000 BC The Ohlone Indians occupied the Monterey Bay area.

400 AD Chinese Sailors are rumored to have discovered Monterey Bay

1542 Cabrillo sailed by our coast.

1578-79 Sir Francis Drake sailed by our coast.

1602 Sebastian Vizcaino discovers Monterey Bay as a port for the Manila galleons.

16-1700 Chinese sailing ships are reported.

1769 Gaspar De Portola, together with Father Crespi, leads the first overland expedition through the county October 8-22, and although they discovered signs of the native peoples, they never actually saw the "heathen".

1774 The second Governor General of California, Capitan Don Fernando Javier De Rivera Y Moncada, together with Father Palou, passed down the coast from San Francisco to Carmel and on December 11th, discovered the Aptos Indian village of eleven huts above the river.

1791 Mission “Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz” (Holy Cross) was started by Father Lasuen and completed in 1794. This was the twelfth mission founded in Alta California. The name "Aptos" is first recorded in baptismal records of the Santa Cruz Mission as a local Native American name for our area.

1797 Branciforte Pueblo founded

1821 Mexican Independence

1803 Rafael Castro was born at Villa de Branciforte.

1831 The mission was secularized and Rafael Castro was provisionally granted 5500 acres as Aptos Rancho from Mexican Governor Manuel Victoria.

1833 The Aptos Rancho was confirmed by Mexican Governor Jose Figueroa. Castro builds his house at the confluence of Aptos and Valencia Creeks.

1840 The Aptos Rancho was increased to 6,685.9 acres by Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. Flood waters filled Castro’s house. He moved to the top of the knoll overlooking the creeks.

1848 California annexed to United States as a territory.

pre 1850 Jose Arano builds first General Store.

1850 StateHood Chinese begin to immigrate Most local Native Americans have died from disease

1850's Castro builds Aptos wharf (Aptos Wharf Road)

1851 Saw mill built on Aptos Creek near town, by a group of Frenchmen, probably Francisco Allemari, A. Placio and Louis Christoff

1853 Tannery built on Porter Gulch, now the Apple Lane Inn

1854 Castro converts French sawmill into the Cascade Grist Mill.

1860 Judge Ben Nichols builds a lumber mill in Aptos. First bridge built over Aptos Creek

1862 Bridged washed out

1865 Santa Cruz Earthquake

1867 Wharf enlarged to 900 feet

1868 Aptos Bridge destroyed to stop Small Pox epidemic from Watsonville. Mount Carmel / Calvary Cemetery was laid out on land donated by Castro.

1869 Live Oak House built

1870 Arano's General Store becomes first Post Office. Frederick A. Hihn builds Sawmill on Valencia Creek. Output 70,000 - 143,000 board feet/day.

1871 First school built where Sushi on the Run is today, 7957 Soquel Dr. Aptos Mineral Spring becomes famous.

1872 Claus Spreckels buys 2,390 acres east of creek for summer home. (+200 more in 6 months @ $30/acre).

1874 Spreckels builds Deer Park with 12 foot fence to hold wild game. Also a sulky race track.

1875 Chinese fishing camp established at China Beach (New Brighton) 29 fishermen. Catholic Church built. Aptos Hotel built by Spreckels on site of former Indian Village. Spreckels Drive was the private entrance drive. June, 6th Three trains from Santa Cruz bring over 1,000 people, plus another 500 by private conveyance, to the dedication picnic for Spreckels' Aptos hotel.

1876 Cypress trees planted around cemetery and down Santa Cruz Watsonville Road (Soquel Dr.) May 7th Opening Day of the Santa Cruz Railroad. First train runs through Santa Cruz County. “Betsy Jane” and "Pacific" left opposite ends of the county and met in Aptos. Narrow gauge railroad promoted and partially financed by Hihn and Spreckels. "Jupiter" (first engine) is now in the Smithsonian.

1878 "Anchor House", (Bayview Hotel), built by Joseph (Jose) Arano. China Beach fishermen shipped 177,000 lbs. of fish on the train. Camp San Jose visitor campground opened on the bluff at New Brighton Beach forcing the Chinese fisherman to move down the coast toward Aptos.

1881 King David Kalakaua of Hawaii visits Spreckels (October 18th). Southern Pacific buys Santa Cruz Railroad and begins laying standard gauge track.

1882 Loma Prieta saw mill built in Aptos Canyon including post office, express office, stores, cabins and a hotel. The town grows to 185 residents and the mill is expanded to produce 140,000 board feet per day at full production.

1883 Southern Pacific completes laying standard gauge track and builds spur line into Aptos Canyon using 225 Chinese laborers. May, 23 Frederick A, Hihn’s Aptos Mill opened on Trout Gulch creek, just above its junction with Valencia Creek. It was capable of producing between 30-to-40-thousand board-feet of lumber per day. The mill was moved to Valencia in 1885. Bay View Hotel adds fourth floor?

1883-1923 Logging era produces 140 million board feet of lumber. Aptos expands to 3 hotels, 13 saloons, a deep sea pier, 2 railroad stations and 5 railroad spur lines. Aptos Creek was dammed to float lumber and Valencia Creek was the town’s water supply.

1885 Hihn builds a narrow gauge railroad spur line to his new Valencia saw mill using Chinese labor. Train cars were originally drawn by mule. The old Valencia meeting hall still stands at the corner of Valencia and Bear Valley Road. The house across the street used to be the stage coach stop, general store and post office. (Both have now been relocated together at that intersection.)

1886 Spreckels forced out of Hawaii

1888 Spreckels opens the largest beet sugar factory in North America in Watsonville

1888 Mangels House built by Claus Mangles, brother-in-law to Claus Spreckels. The house is virtually a copy of the Spreckels mansion.

1889 Aptos pier destroyed by storm

1890 Hihn Apple Packing Plant built behind Bayview Hotel. (Village Fair Antiques)

1893 Aptos Township formed

1896-97 Spreckels tore down the Aptos Hotel and used materials to build the town of Spreckels near Salinas. He also moved several whole buildings from Aptos to Spreckels. He also moved his sugar factory to that location.

1896-1904: John J. Montgomery visited the ranch of Thomas, John and James Leonard, between Aptos and Manresa Beach. He experimented with model gliders off the railroad trestle. He also developed a gold separator which the Leonards used to extract gold from the beach and later financed the construction of the building in Aptos Village in which Café Sparrow now resides.

1898 Sugar factory closed in Watsonville.

1899 James Leonard builds Aptos General Store with money from La Selva Beach gold mine. Post Office moved to new store with Tom Leonard postmaster. Second Aptos School built by Spreckels (World Savings location).

1900 Hundreds of Native Americans still camped on the beach and were employed cutting firewood and working in fields and orchards.

1904 Montgomery hired and trained aeronaut, Daniel John Maloney to handle the two full scale glider “aeroplanes” completed in the autumn of 1903.

1905 Montgomery directed Maloney in a balloon lift of the glider to heights of 800 to 3000 feet. The balloon was rented by Fred Swanton (the builder of the Santa Cruz Casino, later the Boardwalk). Maloney cut loose and maneuvered over an area of two miles in the air, banking, rising, turning at ease and landing safely on successful flights of March 16th, 17th, and 20th, at Leonard's ranch, Aptos, California, (now Seascape). These were the first high altitude Aircraft flights in history.

1905 Lam Pon/Ralph Mattison (L & M) apple dryer built in downtown Aptos.

1906 San Francisco earthquake.

1908 Spreckels died.

1911 The Porter Sesnon family built a grand summer home called "Pino Alta”. The home and landscape costs exceeded $60,000. The home is now called "Sesnon House" and is part of Cabrillo College. First telephone service 1919 January, Aptos Township consolidated into Watsonville Township. The movie "One Way Trail" was filmed at the Loma Prieta Lumber Mill.

1920 Castro House burns. 1920's Rio Del Mar Beach becomes notorious unloading point for bootleg liquor. July 5th The San Christina Investment Co., formed in 1909 to administer the trust of the 1922 Spreckels Estate, sold 2,390 acres to Fred Somers of Pomona for $87.45/acre who then pre-sold land at $216/acre to finance the purchase.

1924 Forest Glen development opens above Aptos Village.

1925 Monroe-Lyon-Miller of Los Altos took over the property at $400/acre. Seacliff Company begins development. Over $100,000 in lots are sold. Seacliff is unable to persuade Paul Woodside to sell his cliff-side property. Ultimately the Sheriff is called to the property. A shootout ensues. Woodside, Sheriff Trafton and Under Sheriff Roundtree all die.

1926 Golf Lodge and Course built. Designed by Willie Locke, inventor of the nine iron. Aptos Creek estuary (Rio Flats) is leveled and raised seven feet. Rio Del Mar name is coined.

1927 Aptos Chamber of Commerce founded. June 20 Seabreeze Building constructed by A. A. Liederbach.

1928 Redwood Village built by William Parker on the former site of Spreckels’ stables. The redwood grove was thinned and the timber milled to construct cottages for vacationers. (In 1974 it was converted to shops.) Third grammar school (Valencia) built on land donated by Monroe, Lyon and Miller. Concrete dam built on Aptos Creek to create world's largest fresh water swimming pool, with abathing pavilion.

1929 Spreckels Mansion burned. Aptos Creek Bridge opened May 17. Monte Toyon deeded to Methodists. Rio Del Mar Country Club Inn built. Opened May 1.

1930 The Cement Ship "Palo Alto" was towed to Seacliff and beached. It was developed as a nightclub. The ship was built in 1919 for use as a tanker in the war, but was not completed in time. The ship was stripped, then rebuilt to include a 54 by 154 foot ballroom that featured big bands like Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey, plus a 54 square foot swimming pool and an 84 by 54 foot dining area. After two seasons the owners went broke and the following winter a storm cracked the ship in the middle. Aptos Fire Protection District Established

1931 Seacliff was established as one of the first California State Beach units. Bathing pavilion torn down between 1931-35.

1933 Deer Park Tavern built by N.J. (Shorty) Butriza, a Yugoslavian. The Tyrolean style building was originally decorated with hunting trophies and music was supplied by a Hammond organ built for the place. The widening of Highway One in 1947 forced Shorty to move it up the hill to its current location.

1935 Catholic church closed.

1937 Beach Club built. Opened 2/22/37

1941 Rio Del Mar Improvement Association founded. Peter and Olaf Harken spent the war years with Mr. and Mrs. Martin Jonguneel. The Harkens went on to found a major boating supply company.

1945 About this time the last two remaining Aptos Native Americans had a heated argument and one slew the other. The remaining Native American, Jimmie, worked on the Hihn Ranch and died about 1951.

1946 Bayview Hotel moved to current location.

1947 Beach Club closed.

1948 Highway One built. Deer Park Tavern moved to present location.

1955 State of California adds Rio Del Mar Beach to Seacliff State Beach. Beach Club was demolished. All that remained was a comfort station.

1956 Aptos Golf Course rebuilt.

1959 Cabrillo Community College opens in temporary location at Watsonville High School. The permanent site was required to be equal distance between Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

1961 Aptos Ladies' Tuesday Evening Society formed to defeat a cement batching plant planned for Aptos Village. Southern Pacific tried to block off entrance to Bayview Hotel. Aptos Ladies' Tuesday Evening Society overcame SP. "World's Shortest Parade" inaugurated.

1962 Cabrillo College Aptos Campus opens. Nisene Marks State Park dedicated. Resurrection Church built. Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center built.

1963 Aptos Beach Inn burns 3/17/63. Aptos Seascape Corporation of San Diego, buys Krag Ranch 5/63. 500 acres. Was to add 9 holes to golf course.

1966 Beach Club comfort station removed.

1967 Rio Del Mar interchange added to freeway.

1969 Aptos High School built.

1976 Railroad Centennial Celebration held in Aptos, May 7.

1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake 7.1, October 17.

2001 Concrete ship permanently closed to public.

Major industries have been: Leather hides Cattle Vegetables Wheat and Flour till 1880 Redwood Lumber Hazelwood for barrel hoops Tan Oak for the tanneries Dairy Products Apples Tourism Education