Out of the ashes of the great Neptune Casino fire of 1906 arose a new phenomenon at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Since the 1860s, the Santa Cruz main beach had been a popular tourist resort, sporting public bath houses, spas and restaurants, gift shops and beachfront campsites. Then in 1903, Fred Swanton formed the Santa Cruz Beach & Tent City Corporation to convert what was a random assortment of private attractions into one unifying vision for the beach. He purchased the large Miller-Leibbrandt Plunge and its accompanying Electric Pier and he moved the old Neptune Bath across the street to become the Tent City restaurant and corporate office for the company. In its place, he erected a massive Moorish-style casino inclusive of (non-gambling) games, gift shops, restaurants, dancing pavilion, and so much more. Outside, a beautiful band stand was erected while beyond the newly-upgraded plunge a large roller rink was built. No other entertainment attractions were built at this time and nothing else would be forthcoming. For two marvellous summers—1904 and 1905—this grand casino thrived attracting visitors from all over the country, and then tragically everything came to a fiery end one June night in 1906.
|Color postcard of the Bay Shore Limited, c. 1910, after the demolition of the curio shop. (Santa Cruz Public Libraries)|
|The west end of the Bay Shore Limited loop, with the Pleasure Pier in the background. (Harold von Gorder Collection).|
|The Bay Shore Limited beside the Plunge, 1907. At right is the skating rink|
and at left is the curio shop, both in the style of the 1904 Neptune Casino
suggesting they survived the fire of 1906. [SC Sentinel]
|The eastern end of the Bay Shore Limited, showing the long platform out to the turnaround. (Harold von Gorder)|
|The Sun Tan Jr. parked beside its runaround siding on the western end of the|
Boardwalk, c. 1930. Loff Carousel building visible at left. [SC Sentinel]
|Photograph of the Sun Tan Jr. running alongside the Boardwalk with the Laff-Land dark ride at left, c. 1930.|
|Sun Tan Jr. in front of Entrance 3 near the Carousel, c. 1930s. [Sandy Ragsdale]|
|The City of Santa Cruz Streamliner on its elevated track beside the main|
Boardwalk, c. 1940 [SC Sentinel]
|The Cave Train to the Lost World, April 2014. (Dexter Francis)|
|The Cave Train at its depot at the eastern end of the Boardwalk, 1964.|
Citations & Credits:
- Beal, Chandra Moira and Richard A. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: The Early Years—Never a Dull Moment (Pacific Group, 2003).
- "Little Puffer Steam Train". San Francisco Zoo.
- Rice, Walter and Emiliano Echeverria. Images of Rail: Rails of California's Central Coast (Arcadia, 2008).
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, 05/05/1938, 2:1-3.
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, 09/20/1964, 21.