Aptos Creek Road is a roadway in Santa Cruz County, California which connects the community of Aptos north to The Forest of Nisene Marks State Parks. Aptos Creek Road north of Aptos is largely unpaved and is where the town site of Loma Prieta can be located. Loma Prieta was a sawmill community which operated from 1883-1923 and reached a peak population of approximately three hundred. Loma Prieta included a railroad which is now occupied by Aptos Creek Road along with a spur to Bridge Creek which now the Loma Prieta Grade Trail. The site of the Loma Prieta Mill and company town burned in 1942.
Part 1; the history of Aptos Creek Road and the Loma Prieta town site
Modern Aptos traces its origin to Mexican Rancho Aptos. Rancho Aptos was granted by the Mexican Government in 1833 Rafael Castro. Rancho Aptos took its name from Aptos Creek which coursed through from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey Bay. Castro initially used Rancho Aptos to raise cattle for their hides. Following California becoming an American State in 1850 the property ownership at Rancho Aptos was recognized and Castro began to lease his lands. Soon a small town emerged on Rancho Aptos which included a wharf, general store and lumber mill.
During 1872 sugar magnate Charles Spreckels began purchasing large tracts of Castro's land holdings to make way for a Southern Pacific Railroad line. Aptos came to further prominence when Loma Prieta Lumber Company opened operations and a company town of the same name directly north of Aptos in 1883. The town site of Loma Prieta along with the spur line north of Aptos via Aptos Creek can be seen on the 1896 George Blum Map.
The Loma Prieta Lumber Company would actively log the Santa Cruz Mountains north of Aptos until 1923. During 1924 much of the Loma Prieta Mill was dismantled. At the height of Loma Prieta, the town site included a railroad depot, post office, saloon, company store and hotel. The remains of Loma Prieta burned in 1942 in what is suspected to be an unsolved case of arson.
Part 2; visiting the site of Loma Prieta via Aptos Creek Road
Aptos Creek Road begins in Aptos at Soquel Drive (former California State Route 1).
Aptos Creek Road crosses north over the railroad tracks in Aptos and The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.