Hooker Gulch in the Los Gatos Mountains

Hooker Gulch, Los Gatos - satellite viewMaps can be so intriguing, and they can be a dangerous rabbit hole into which my time somehow disappears if I’m not careful. Today I was viewing a topographical map of Los Gatos when I stumbled upon a place in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Los Gatos (aka the Los Gatos Mountains) with the curious name of Hooker Gulch.  That same site is an interactive map with many place names that I never heard of in the coastal range, all of them begging for research. (Click at your own risk.)

Here are a few of odd and fascinating place names in the hills:

  • Hooker Gulch (also Hooker Gulch Creek, which feeds into the Los Gatos Creek)
  • Nibbs Knob
  • Rattlesnake Gulch
  • Buzzard Lagoon
  • Beehive
  • Priest Rock
  • Bull Run
  • Badger Spring
  • And many other “gulch” names: Moody Gulch, Austrian Gulch, Jacques Gulch, etc.

Where is Hooker Gulch?

The steep valley is located near the end of Aldercroft Heights Road (public section of the road), close to Aldercroft Heights, Lexington Hills, and Holy City in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is just south of Old Gold Mine Road.

Read moreHooker Gulch in the Los Gatos Mountains

Los Gatos real estate: unreal prices!

Here’s a fun bit of Los Gatos real estate history – pricing from yesteryear!  The newspaper ad for Los Gatos homes for sale is enticing.  One of them reads:

Fillmer Ave.

Rustic type of 5 rms.,
2 Brs., tub and shower bath,
fireplace, H.W. floors, 2 car
garage, lot 60 x 140.
Immediate poss.
Asking $15,000

Or check out the house on Englewood:

Englewood Ave.

1 story, rambling type, 6
rms., 3 brs., H.W. floors,
fireplace, tiled baths, 2-car
attached garage, choice
location.  Terms.
Price  $13,500

Another one features a house on Almendra for $12 ,750 with “floor furn”, which appears to be “floor furnace” (from the “Must Sell” ad, which spelled it out). Makes me wonder what the alternative to floor furnace would be!  Or a house on Massol, also a rustic type for $15,000.  I love the description of the “Must Sell” home as “sturdily built” and, surprisingly, “complete, with all new furniture” – $12,700 and just $4,000 down.

Can you guess the year of this Los Gatos real estate advertisement?

Have a look at this and try to guess the year:

Los Gatos real estate ad date not shown
Los Gatos real estate ad date not shown

What year do you think this ad for Los Gatos homes for sale ran?  The newspaper was called the Mail News and Star, by the way.

Keep reading to see the year…

Read moreLos Gatos real estate: unreal prices!

Los Gatos historical walking tour app: LOST GATOS

Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie 2007 Historic Walking Tour in Los Gatos
Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie in the 2007 Historic Walking Tour in Los Gatos

Locals may remember that a few years back, there was a wonderful “Los Gatos History Walk” put on every year or so.  Town residents would don garments from a bygone era and take on the persona of legendary Los Gatos figures for a few hours. Both fun and educational, it provided a sense of the town’s past – both the buildings and the people’s.  It was absolutely wonderful while we had it.

Today, there’s an app for that!  It’s called Discover LOST Gatos and as of this writing, there are 3 different tours:

  1. The Heart of Los Gatos (approximately a 35 minute walking tour with 12 stops)
  2. Los Gatos: The Gem City (a 45 minute walk with 12 stops
  3. The Cradle of Los Gatos (50 minute stroll with 13 stops)

The Mercury News did a nice article on this and will fill in the details on who’s behind this wonderful idea.

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_30098778/los-gatos-discover-lost-gatos

As for me, I just downloaded it to my phone and look forward to getting to know our beautiful town a little more.  You can find it online wherever you get your phone’s apps – just search for LOST Gatos.

Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department

fire articleLos Gatos Fire Department History

Fire was a major danger in Los Gatos in the 1800s. Buildings were made of wood, including sidewalks (think boardwalk), and most appliances – light, heat, cooking – still used an open flame. Fire was a greater, more present danger than local wildlife (cougars and grizzlies). In its early years, the town relied on bucket brigades, finally graduating to two volunteer Hose Companies and a Hook and Ladder Company in around 1886. The Cold Spring Water Company of Los Gatos filed to incorporate in December 1890 with the stated purpose to “introduce water for domestic and fire purposes into the town of Los Gatos.”. In 1888 the town passed an ordinance to provide for the organization of a dedicated Fire Department, and perhaps just in time. A major cartridge fire in July of 1891 leveled many of the town’s businesses, and saw the shift of the business district from the east bank to the west bank of the Los Gatos Creek – and it has remained so to this day.

While many major fires destroyed homes, stores, hotels, and even an opera house, the worst is often said to be the 1901 fire.

Read moreLos Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department

Hooked on Los Gatos

April 01, 2010

If you love the rich history of Los Gatos, or just want to learn more about it, the town’s library and history museum have a joint project that you should know about: Hooked on Los Gatos – the Library and Museum History Project. Together, they have organized and digitized an incredible wealth of interesting artifacts and information, much of which is now available online and some of which is now in books which can be purchased online or in local bookstores.  Visit the Hooked on Los Gatos website to check out historic homes, businesses, photos, and loads more.  Enjoy!

The Colorful Los Gatos History Walk Returns This Sunday

July 21, 2008

Christine Currie as Mtn Charlie's wife in the May 2007 History Walk in Los GatosLast year, I had the pleasure of attending the Los Gatos History Walk (and blogged about it here on Live In Los Gatos – click the link to see photos from the tour on May 5th). The tour, “A Walk In and Out of the Past” will be presented this Sunday and I want to give it my heartiest endorsement as a great way to catch the flavor of our town’s past.