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Friday, July 11, 2014

Lagos

Lagos Station according to an Ocean Shore Railroad
survey map from 1912. (UC Santa Cruz)
The Ocean Shore Railroad maintained a few additional stops between Santa Cruz and Davenport compared to the Coast Line Railroad. One such stop was located on Laguna Creek at a place called "Lagos". Located 8 miles north of the Ocean Shore Depot off Bay Street in Santa Cruz and 2.8 miles south of Davenport, the little Lagos station appears to have had nothing noting denoting it as a stop other than a sign. Records do not mention any platform or shelter, and the importance of the stop was negligible.

The name itself means "lakes" in Spanish, probably referring to the large lagoon adjacent to the tracks. Laguna Creek formed the western border of the Rancho Arroyo de la Laguna, one of the smallest Mexican land grants in Santa Cruz County. The lagoon is the defining characteristic of the area, named in some Spanish sources as Laguna de Palu. During the time of the Ocean Shore Railroad, the lagoon was much larger than it is today.

Property information regarding Lagos is not well documented. The original grantee was Gil Sanchez, the tithe collector of the Santa Cruz mission who petitioned for the property in 1836 and was finally granted it in 1840. Sanchez did not live on the property, though he did build a house there. Like most other ranchos in Santa Cruz County, the property served as a cattle ranch. Sanchez visited the place often but when his horses were stolen in 1847, Sanchez decided to sell the rancho. It went first to  James G.F. Dunleavy and immediately after to James and Squire Williams.

Unlike Sanchez, the Williams brothers lived on the property and operated operated a lumber mill and lime kiln within the rancho. Two other brothers, John and Isaac, also worked there, though they were not owners initially. In 1852, after statehood, the Williamses filed their claim on the property with the California government, which was confirmed in 1855. Problems arose in the 1870s, though, when it was discovered that the "square league" of the property had overstretched to include much of the land between San Vicente Creek and Laguna Creek, and a bit beyond. A patent for the entirety of the land was only approved in 1881, after James had already died.

In 1853, the Williams brothers built a pier at the mouth of Liddell Creek named Williams Landing to help ship their products. This was the  Squire remained on the property until 1882 when it appears to have been abandoned as an industrial center. By 1905, when the Ocean Shore Railroad built its route across the creek, the property was owned by a man named Dennis Cook. Cook appears to have found a small stretch of land that was unclaimed between Rancho Refugio and Rancho Arroyo de la Laguna after the 1881 supreme court decision regarding the Williamses land. He claimed squatters rights on the land, which was designated as tidal overflow and unusable land by the state government. Though he lost his case in 1882, later evidence suggests that he remained on the land all the same and eventually found a legal avenue that allowed him to claim it. Much like its neighbors to the north and south, Lagos likely was a dairy farm in the 1900s and 1910s when the propriety was serviced by the OSRR. No siding or spur was recorded here. Immediately north of Lagos, the Coast Land & Dairy Company, successors to the Williams brothers, owned a large stretch of property reaching all the way to Yellowbank, the next stop on the line.

Today, the entire property is within the Coast Dairies State Park property, located at the end of Laguna Road (the former County Road) via a parking lot. There is a trail opposite the parking lot that crosses the tracks on the north side of Laguna Creek. The original stop, though, was on the south side of the creek just out of a low cut. Multiple trails head down to the large and relatively obscure Laguna Creek Beach. Beware, this is also one of the lesser discussed nude beaches in the county.

Citations:
  • Donald Clark, Santa Cruz County Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (Scotts Valley, CA: Kestrel Press, 2008).
  • Leon Rowland, Santa Cruz: The Early Years (Santa Cruz, CA: Paper Vision Press, 1980).
  • Paul Tutwiler, "Notes on the History of Williams Mill and Williams Landing in Bonny Doon, California", Santa Cruz Public Libraries. http://www.santacruzpl.org/history/articles/1284/#ranchoarroyo. Accessed 11 July 2014.

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