Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living



The First C.P.W. Office
by Barry Brown

Photograph of the First California Powder Works Office
The First California Powder Works Office
Photograph from the Peyton Family Collection

This photograph, taken in August 1890, shows three buildings of interest at the California Powder Works. The house at the center left was at first a home and then became the first California Powder Works Office. It was situated facing the main wagon road in back of the Firehouse, now Paradise Park's Exit Road. Notice the little boy sitting on the platform to the extreme left. The tree next to him still stands as well as remnants of the stairs that went to the Office.

The second building, the Peyton Mansion, barely discernible high on the bluff across the river, was built by Bernard Peyton, second Superintendent of the CPW, in 1875. Having outgrown his original residence in the Powder Mill Village, it was here that he moved his wife and five, soon to be six, children.

To the right in the picture is the third building of interest, a two-story boarding house. Here single males could eat and live close to where they worked. Boarding houses were common during that period and were usually run by widowed women. As an example, Sarah Ann Tufts became the CPW boarding house landlady in the 1882 when her husband Rufus Tufts was killed in a Powder Mill explosion. (Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 23,1882) Bernard Peyton is said to have given her the job and $500 to help her keep her family together. In an era when few could afford insurance and there was little or no financial support other than family in times of trouble, Peyton's actions showed a very personal concern for his employees and their families.


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dynamite, powder works, San Lorenzo River

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