Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living

CPW Railroad Entrance
by Barry Brown

Photograph of the Lower Railroad Entrance to the California Powder Works
The Lower Railroad Entrance to the California Powder Works
Photograph from the Watson Family Collection

This rare old photograph shows the lower entrance to the California Powder Works, presently the front entrance to Paradise Park Masonic Club. To get your bearings, the dirt road going left, is Route 9, formally a toll road, heading towards Felton.

The woman in period dress [above] is standing next to the tall wooden fence that ran the length of the Powder Works. It was primarily constructed to keep people out of this dangerous area; however, its 14ft. height was also designed to discourage travelers from stopping to look at the operations below. While it was generally safe to travel the toll road, the fence also provided moderate blast protection in case of an explosion. The railroad tracks, seen entering the Powder Works, connected the Santa Cruz & Felton narrow-gauge railroad to the CPW in 1877. The connection was accomplished via a series of switchbacks which allowed horse-drawn freight cars to reach the summit 300ft. above where the Powder Works siding was located. The old switchback road across Route 9 still survives and is now paved and runs through the small community of Big Trees Manor.

Photograph of a Horse-Drawn Freight Car
A Horse-Drawn Freight Car
Photograph from the Bruce MacGregor Collection

Photograph of a Railroad House at the California Powder Works
A Railroad House at the California Powder Works
Photograph from the Bruce MacGregor Collection


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View similarly tagged articles:

dynamite, powder works, San Lorenzo River


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