The first European to set foot in California was Juan RodrĂ­guez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spanish crown. He arrived in what is now San Diego Bay in 1542 and explored the coast for several months.
Santa Cruz County, located on the central coast of California, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The region was originally inhabited by the Ohlone people, who were skilled hunters, gatherers, and fishermen. They lived in harmony with the land, utilizing its resources while maintaining a sustainable balance.

In 1769, the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá led an expedition that explored the area, claiming it as part of Spain's territory. The Spanish introduced agriculture and Catholicism to the region, establishing several missions along the coast, including Mission Santa Cruz. However, the arrival of the Spanish also had devastating effects on the Ohlone population, as they were forced into labor and exposed to new diseases.

During the mid-19th century, Santa Cruz County experienced a gold rush similar to the one in the Sierra Nevada. The discovery of gold in the nearby mountains led to a population boom, with miners and settlers flooding into the region. However, Santa Cruz's gold rush was short-lived, and the population soon shifted to agriculture and logging, taking advantage of the fertile soil and abundant forests.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Santa Cruz County became a popular tourist destination. The availability of steamboat travel and the development of railways made the county more accessible, attracting visitors from all over California and beyond. With its stunning natural beauty, including the famous seashores and redwood forests, Santa Cruz County has since become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, surfers, and nature lovers.

Overall, Santa Cruz County's history is marked by a mix of indigenous culture, Spanish colonization, resource exploitation, and tourism. Today, it stands as a vibrant coastal community that embraces its past while continuing to evolve and adapt to the changing needs and desires of its residents and visitors.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Santa Cruz County, California.

  • 1579 - Sir Francis Drake lands on the coast
  • 1791 - Santa Cruz Mission is founded
  • 1822 - Mission Santa Cruz is secularized
  • 1848 - California becomes part of the United States
  • 1850 - Santa Cruz County is established
  • 1866 - Santa Cruz Boardwalk opens
  • 1901 - Construction of Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf begins
  • 1904 - Roaring Camp Railroad is established
  • 1906 - The Great San Francisco Earthquake severely damages Santa Cruz
  • 1940 - University of California, Santa Cruz is founded
  • 1970 - Loma Prieta earthquake causes significant damage to the county
  • 1990 - Santa Cruz Skateboards, a famous skateboarding company, is founded
  • 2018 - Santa Cruz County celebrates its 170th anniversary