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More Very Local History
Further little-known stories of Santa Cruz
On the morning of August 17, 1923, a man appeared in the shallow waters of the bay just off Cowell Beach. Attempts to provide aid or communicate with him were frustrated by the fact he could only be seen from behind. He remained there for two years but vanished during a storm.
The only known picture of the Mullins Gang, a notorious crew of former loggers who lived in the mountains near Santa Cruz and were responsible for robberies on travelers until their sudden disappearance in November, 1907. As a fact of curious note, it is said some people are unable to see the five men pictured in this photograph.
Santa Cruz originally had two rivers running through the downtown area. Sometime during the early hours of February 29th, 1920, the San Natana was stolen. It was speculated the watercourse had been returned to the sea by pioneering environmentalists, but an extensive investigation was never able to confirm the theory.
For three days in March 1917, language ceased to function in most of Santa Cruz county. The Santa Cruz Sentinel continued to print in hopes this would improve the situation. This is the only known surviving copy of an edition produced during that period. The text has never been deciphered, and the identities of the people in the photographs remain unknown.
The ballroom of the former Sacramento Hotel in Santa Cruz. It is forbidden to speak of what happened here.
Halloween has long been Santa Cruz’s preferred holiday, and for several years an annual competition was held for best costume. The joint winners in 1919 are shown in this photograph from the early evening. Nobody came forward to claim the well-advertised and valuable prize, however, and so the competition was afterward suspended indefinitely out of an abundance of caution.
Life in early Santa Cruz was challenging, and illness and premature death were common. Thomas Hudson lost both parents when still an infant, and was subsequently raised by trees. This photograph of 1919 shows him in middle age, walking with his brother. It is said the latter mourns Thomas to this day.