What About Los Gatos' Forbes Mill?

June 01, 2007

Forbes Mill Historical Marker, Los Gatos, CA

Forbes Mill. Truthfully, it just sounds boring. Doesn’t it?

But actually the place has got an interesting bit of history to it.  A little intrigue. A little scandal. And our town was once (briefly) named after it, first Forbes Mill, then Forbestown, then finally, Los Gatos. 

Thank goodness that changed!

Forbes Mill, front right view, Los Gatos, CABuilt along the Los Gatos Creek, Forbes Mill was started early in the town’s history (1854) and basically the town sprung up around it. Alexander Forbes thought that having a flour mill would be a great idea since the 49’ers gold rush was on.

The owner of the mill, however, never seems to have made a single mortgage payment  to Hernandez and Peralta on his debt for it, though.

Back side of Forebes Hill remains - this is the side that was connected to the original mill. Los Gatos, CASo it was off to a rocky start and was never profiltable with the original owner, Forbes.  Under other ownership, things fared better, By creating and using  a  reservoir up near the current Holy Names Convent (on Reservoir Road), later owners enabled the water to flow year-round, and not just in winter. So the mill did better – though by then there was no monopoly on flour mills for feeding the forty-niners.

The mill was last used to produce flour in 1887 and it was demolished in 1916 (it was damaged in the 1906 earthquake).

What remains now is an annex that had been added on. Today it is a museum, one of two in Los Gatos.. 
 
Los Gatos Ghost Tour by Mary Pope-HandyOh, and I almost forgot to add: it appears that this is yet another one of the town’s many haunted spots. I know, you won’t read that anywhere but here, but I had a conversation with a gal who works at Forbes Mill and she told me of a couple of stories that indicate the ongoing presence of an unseen resident.

Maybe Mr. Forbes is still trying to make his old mill profitable?

Location: 75 Church Street, which is off Main Street and close to Los Gatos High. Or if you are visiting Old Town Los Gatos, there’s a footbridge that traverses the creek and the freeway and you can walk across it to reach the mill.

Hours: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 12 noon to 4pm. Parking is free. 408 395-7375.

Final note: Forbes Mill is located very close to Los Gatos High. It can be a little difficult to get in and out of the area due to school traffic at 2 or 2:30pm, so I would suggest avoiding this one window of time for arriving to or leaving from Forbes Mill.