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This website is a constant work-in-progress, with articles updated regularly throughout the site. Much of the information comes from local railroad fans such as yourselves. If you have information regarding local railroads, photographs or railroad documents, or you feel a mistake has been made or information omitted from an article, leave a comment on the appropriate page or email me at This site would not be possible without your help and support. Thank you! – Derek R. Whaley

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dougherty Mill (#1) & Zayante (#1)

The Santa Clara Valley Mill and Lumber Company operated a number of mills in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the earliest of which was located along Newell Creek. Commonly known as Doughertys or Dougherty's Mill, the Newell Creek mill was only in existence for six years before being relocated to the upper San Lorenzo River Valley north of Boulder Creek.

W.P Dougherty was the primary owner of the Santa Clara Valley Mill and Lumber Company, though his brother James operated the facility. The mill was built in 1880, the same year that the Mountain Route was completed passing through the Zayante Creek Valley. The mill was built along the east branch of Newell Creek, but was accessible via the Zayante Creek basin. At its height, this mill produced 20 to 40 flat-car loads of lumber a day. A major fire, which was not unusual for fire mills, leveled the facility in Newell Creek and the Doughertys decided it would be better to relocate to the increasingly accessible redwood groves north of Boulder Creek.

The only known photograph of the Santa Clara Valley Mill & Lumber Company mill on Zayante Creek, c. 1885
(Care of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association)
Because of its convenient years of operation, the Dougherty mill appears on the earliest South Pacific Coast timetables but never appears on a Southern Pacific table, the only location other than Highland with that status. According to the 1880 timetable, the site was the only stop in the Zayante basin originally. It's adjacent stations were Glenwood to the north, and Felton to the south. The 1883 timetable adds that the station was 70.2 miles south of San Francisco via Alameda Point. By 1889, Doughertys had burned down and the site was replaced with an early location named Zayante, which does not correlate to the later location of the same name which was located nearly 3 miles to the north. Based on measurement comparisons, it is likely that this location developed into Meehan around 1900.

Rick Hamman, however, places Meehan slightly to the north of Doughertys, and notes a significant narrow gauge spur branching off from the mainline, which matches the suggestion in the image to the north. However, the Dougherty Mill on Hamman's map places the actual mill in the Zayante Basin, in fact located almost on top of East Zayante Road. The skid-rows shown behind the mill are what lead into Newell Creek basin, though Hamman's map does not show these leading into that valley, instead keeping the route alongside Zayante. The station, according to Hamman, was located just north of the Eccles Tunnel, branching away at Laurel Way or, possibly, Western States Drive. Cement workings in Zayante Creek in this region could possibly date to this time, though their survival over 130 years makes that seem unlikely.

  • Clark, Donald Thomas. Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical DictionaryScotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008.
  • Hamman, Rick. California Central Coast Railways. Otter B Books, 2002.


  1. Another genius post, Derek. Thank you.
    -Brian Liddicoat

  2. I hope you turn these posts into a book someday. This is pretty interesting stuff. Let me know when you are going to do some hiking to some of these locations. I'd like to tag along.