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Mountain Charley's Saloon sign - named after the colorful figure well known in Los Gatos“Mountain Charley” was one of the first non-native settlers to this area and he made his home in the summit area of  the Santa Cruz Mountains beginning in 1851. (In some places, he’s referred to as Mountain Charlie.)

Mountain Charley’s Wild West

Charles Henry McKiernan was an Irishman turned Californian ’49er whose main claim to fame is that he was attacked by a thousand pound, angry mama grizzly bear and managed to live despite losing a chunk of his skull to her.

Mountain Charley lived a full life for more than 40 years after the encounter. He married a nurse who cared for him after his 3rd operation, and together they raised a large family of 7 children. Charley had a variety of other wild encounters from stagecoach robbers to trained elephants, but he was a prosperous businessman in this rough and tumble era and accumulated thousands of acres of valuable land.

His colorful story lives on as part of the town of Los Gatos’ more interesting history – and folklore.

Related Reading

E Clampus Vitus has a page on Mountain Charlie if you’d like to learn more.

Another colorful person in Los Gatos, sometimes confused with Mountain Charley, was Charley Parkhurst, written about in Surprises of the Wild West of Los Gatos on this site.