Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living



The Liberty Flag Pole
by Barry Brown

Photograph of the Liberty Flag Pole
The Liberty Flag Pole at the California Powder Works
Photograph from the William Wulf Collection

This photograph, taken sometime in the 1880s, looks north from the South Pacific Coast Railroad trestle across Route 9 and shows the main black powder plant north of the bridge (see Historical Marker #6), the San Lorenzo River, a flag pole, and chords of wood stacked in the area below. Looking closely, the raised flume can be seen just above the bridge where it makes a turn north and parallels the river. Just below the bridge at the left, narrow-gauge railroad tracks can be seen approaching the bridge. These tracks conveyed horse-drawn box-cars which ran across the bridge and throughout the plant connecting various processing operations on both sides of the river.

On July 7, 1866, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that, inspired by patriotic feelings commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of American Independence, Mr. J. W. Willard, the first Superintendent of the Powder Works, along with the men from the plant raised the flagpole seen in the photo. It was a festive occasion featuring patriotic speeches with stirring music and was attended by hundreds of people from surrounding communities.

Below the flag pole, where the PPMC tennis courts are now, cord-wood was stacked and ready for processing in the charcoal retorts nearby. Wood was delivered to the Powder Works from surrounding forests via Powder Mill Road which ran along the east side of the San Lorenzo River and is now known as the Ocean Street Extension.


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dynamite, powder works, San Lorenzo River

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