Santa Cruz County History - People



A Walk Through Time: William Ely
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Few pioneers literally pave the way for others to follow, but William Ely did just that.

Photograph of William Ely's grave site
Grave site of William Ely

Born in New York in 1828, the call of gold sent him to California in 1850. After succumbing to the lonely life of a miner and later failing as a potato farmer, Ely returned to the east coast and married. Ely returned to the west coast and settled in Santa Cruz in 1869 and quickly acquired a considerable fortune, largely from real estate investments. At one time he owned a block of land on Pacific Avenue near Cooper Street that included the Court House lot. This section of properties became known as the "Ely Block."

Perhaps his best remembered commercial enterprise is the horse drawn trolley line that extended from the downtown region out to Twin Lakes and would later become part of the electrified Union Traction Line.

In 1898, Ely severely injured his spine when he was thrown from a cart. He died on June 25, 1909 at the age of 80 years.

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cemeteries, transportation

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