Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living

The Powder Mill Creek
by Barry Brown

Topographic Map Showing Location of the CPW
Topographic Map Showing Location of the CPW
Map from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

In the center right of this map is Powder Mill Creek which flows southwest through Paradise Park and into the San Lorenzo River, is the result of natural drainage that begins about three miles to the north in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The stream once provided water to the California Powder Works’ operations on the east side of the San Lorenzo River, now Paradise Park’s Section 4. Creek water was diverted into large wooden tanks on the ridge to the northwest by means of a small concrete dam, wooden flume, and iron piping (the remains of which can be seen today not far from the Fish Tank for those who wish to hike upstream toward the ridge above).

Map Showing Location of Powder Mill Creek
Powder Mill Creek
Map from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

References to Powder Mill Trail, Powder Mill Fire Road, as well as Powder Mill Creek within the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park indicate an intimate relationship between the two areas. Unfortunately, Court records also show that at one point, relations were not all that friendly between Henry Cowell and the Powder Works. In 1887 Cowell, no stranger to litigation, sued the California Powder Works over a boundary line between the two entities. It appears the Powder Works purchased land in good faith from a person who, by antedating a Mexican Land Grant document, had deceived the Company about his legal ownership. Cowell eventually won the suit in 1890 despite an appeal by the Powder Works to the California Supreme Court. This ruling established part of the boundary of what is now Paradise Park.

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View similarly tagged articles:

dynamite, powder works, San Lorenzo River


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