This page concerns some of the historical rumors told in Santa Cruz County.

Disguised as a man Charlotte Parkhurst was the first woman to vote a United States presidential election.
Maybe. There is a plaque on the Fire Station in Soquel, that says, "The first ballot by a woman in an American presidential election was cast on this site November 3, 1868, by Charlotte (Charlie) Parkhurst who masqueraded as a man for much of her life..." Charles Darkey Parkurst is on the official poll list for the election of 1868. While Charley Parkhurst was registered to vote, there is no evidence if Parkhurst made it to the polls. The Territory of Montana already allowed woman to vote in 1868. Charley Parkhurst was born Mary Parkhurst. It says Charley Parkhurst on the tombstone.

Did ----- violate California law by advertising from a traffic bridge?
Depends on how it was done.  California Penal Code 556 says, "It is a misdemeanor for any person to place or maintain, or cause to be placed or maintained without lawful permission upon any property of the State, or of a city or of a county, any sign, etc." Also Section 594 makes it illegal to "Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material." any state property. This would include putting signs on bridges and road signs.


There is an exception. in the Business  and  Professions  Code 5200. You can advertise political information within 90 days of an election, as long as no sign is attached to state property. You can wave a political sign on a bridge as long as it doesn't interfere with visibility. But not advertise an event, sale, lost pets, etc.

So, in 1998, when District Attorney Art Danner waved a sign atop the 41st Avenue overcrossing, he (and his wife) were acting within the law supporting his re-election. When a local sports team put a banner on the La Fonda Avenue overcrossing, they were in violation of the law.

A rare view of legal advertising next to illegal posting on 41st Avenue overcrossing during the 2014 election.  Within 90 days of an election holding signs on a bridge is allowed.  It is never legal to post advertisements on a public bridge.



Is there a building in Santa Cruz with a door that leads to a 35 foot drop?
True. It was a carriage house, and the door was used to lower waste to a wagon below. It is not know if a bucket was involved or if they already wrapped it in a sack. They didn't just toss it out. It would land on a public street.


The main house is the Golden Gate Villa, built in 1891 and was nicknamed "The Crown Jewel of Santa Cruz". It was home to Major Frank McLaughlin, wife Margaret, daughter Agnes. It is located on Beach Hill, on Third St. The carriage house with the "deadly" door is just to the right behind the main house. The drop goes down to Pacific Ave. 


The Golden Gate Villa, Santa Cruz, CA

A door no longer used.

California Powder Works

There was a gunpowder factory in the Santa Cruz Mountains that made gunpowder for both sides of the Civil War.
No.  Gunpowder shipments were restricted during the Civil War. The California Powder Works formed to supply gunpowder in California for mining and construction. It was incorporated in 1861 and first started making gunpowder in 1864. The Civil war ended in April 1865.  The north had several gunpowder mills and the Confederate Powderworks in Georgia, was the 2nd largest gunpowder factory in the world at that time.

Brookdale Lodge

Did Sarah Logan, niece of the lodge owner, drown in the indoor creek?
No.  In 1913, the young niece of a visitor drowned in the San Lorenzo River near Brookdale.  There is no record of a drowning of anyone at the Brookdale Lodge. There is no record of a Sarah as daughter or niece of the owners of Brookdale Lodge. The first owner, James Logan, did have a daughter (Gladys C. Logan) and two nieces (Cora Lee and Josie Logan). None were named Sarah, none died at the lodge.

Did a 13 year old girl drown in the swimming pool at Brookdale Lodge in 1972?
No. In 2008, a  researcher collected several stories about the lodge from the internet, and made a timeline on a website.  Since then, that timeline has been copied to other parts of the internet. That timeline included, "1972 - 13 year old girl drowned in the swimming pool." A search of news articles and a check at the coroners office* has no such incident in Brookdale, nor any drownings of a girl in 1972 for Santa Cruz County. [*By local authors as well as the SLV Museum staff.]

James Logan was a botanist who developed the Loganberry in 1888.
More rumor than fact. James Logan was a lawyer who became the district attorney and later a judge. He also started the Brookdale Lodge. He discovered a berry in his garden and promoted it as the loganberry.  Later, he tried to market a larger berry he personally developed.  Those efforts made him listed as a botanist or a horticulturalist in some reference works.

There is a sealed train tunnel in Santa Cruz filled with dead Chinese workers.
No. As tunnels are abandoned, they are filled in for reasons of safety.  The rumor started due to an unfortunate set of happenings.  In the Santa Cruz Sentinel of May 10, 1879, R. E. Wood wrote a satire to discourage a vote to put an anti-immigration plan in the California constitution. Part of the argument was saying a railroad company was going to hire all the Chinese in the state to build a 26 mile tunnel through the Santa Cruz Mountains and then plug it, trapping all the Chinese to their death. (Thus an anti-immigration plan wasn't necessary.)

Six months later, in November 1879, construction of a 24 mile train tunnel through the Santa Cruz Mountains was halted due to an explosion. About two dozen Chinese workers died. The bodies were removed.  (The tunnel was later finished, but abandoned after 70 years of use and plugged in the 1940's.)

Today, most of the tunnels in the Santa Cruz Mountains are abandoned. Abandoned tunnels are plugged. There are also rumors of a train in a plugged tunnel. (Also untrue.)

.There is a structure in Santa Cruz County designed by Frank Loyd Wright.
No.  The most often suggested structure is the complex on 550 Water Street in Santa Cruz, built in 1962.  It was designed by Aaron Green.  Also in 1962, a convention center was proposed on Lighthouse Field. The design was by William Peters of the Frank Loyd Wright Foundation.  It was never built. Frank Loyd Wright died in 1958.

Streets named for prostitutes?
Santa Cruz: Not that anyone can prove. There was a madam named Cooper that worked near Front Street. Cooper Street was likely named for one of the Cooper Brothers who ran a store near the property or Frank Cooper who was an officer of County Bank. None were related to the madam. Santa Cruz has a few streets where the name origin is unknown. Monterey: No. There is a legend that Alice Street, Lily Street and Grace Street were named for prostitutes. They were actually named for members of the Wither family who owned and developed the land. Withers Avenue is also a street in that area.

Pleasure Point gets the name from a house of prostitution.
No. There was a spa call Pleasure Point at the location. Later there was a Pleasure Point ROADhouse for many years.  Patrons could buy fuel, drinks, and food.  The entertainment was limited to live bands. The Pleasure Pier is also associated with a similar name origin. According to Milio Stagnaro* who was born in Santa Cruz in 1900, Pleasure Pier gets the name because it was where the pleasure boats were moored. The Henry Cowell Pier and the Municipal Wharf were for cargo.  Pleasure Pier was located across from the Boardwalk.

*Santa Cruz: Never A Dull Moment" video, 1975. Interview of Milio Stagnaro.

Highway 17 was so hazardous it once had a sign that said "WRECK AHEAD."
TRUE. It was covered with a green board when not in use. It was replaced by a large electric sign near the same location. (see Wreck Ahead)

If you run out of fuel at the summit, you can coast until you get to a fueling station.
No. Discounting the problems of having no power to the power steering and power breaks, Highway 17 is not all down hill on either side. There are enough ups to counter the force generated by the down. A coasting vehicle would settle in one of the major dips on Highway 17. (This has happened a few times.) Once past all the up-hills, a vehicle could coast on Highway 17 to the level areas.  An effort in the 1980's created a skid mark seven-tenths of a mile long between Laural Road and Scotts Valley. It is not safe to coast in neutral. It is also against the law in at least 15 states (including California).

Claire Braz-Valentine wrote and read "An Open Letter to John Ashcrost" at Cabrillo College.
True. The letter was written by Claire Braz-Valentine and read at the Santa Cruz Celebration of The Muse at Cabrillo College in 2002.
It starts:
On January 28, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft, announced that he spent $8000 of taxpayer's money for drapes to cover up the exposed breast of The Spirit of Justice, an 18ft aluminum statue of a woman that stands in the Hall of Justice. "

The letter then complains about the problems in the country and suggests that Ashcroft is more concerned about the modesty of a statue.

The curtains were used for formal events. Instead of renting them for each event the Justice Department spent $8,600 to have permanent drapes. This was done for "aesthetic" reasons, according to Justice Department spokesman Shane Hix, who said the drapes provided a pleasant background for television cameras. Hix also said Ashcroft was not involved in the decision.

On June 24, 2005 the drapes were removed. That decision was made by Paul Cortes, assistant attorney general for administration.