Ghost Town Explorer
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Charles Henry McKiernan
Aka- Mountain Charlie

Born in Ireland in 1825, Charles Henry served in the British Army and was stationed in New Zealand. Charles immigrated to California in 1849 and like many other immigrants, took up mining. Charles also tried his luck and became quite talented in the freight business while living near the Weaverville Mines. He prospered well until local natives ran his livestock off, forcing him to relocate to the San Jose area. Sometime in 1850 Charles found his way in to uninhabited Santa Cruz Mountains and became the first white settler in those parts. He built a cabin near the summit constructed of whipsawed lumber from the surrounding redwoods.  Once settled, Charles reestablished a freight business and began hauling supplies over the mountains and in to the newly developing camps of Santa Cruz. It was not long before he was freighting people over the same mountain trails that he founded. To survive in his remote paradise, Charles, now known by locals as Mountain Charlie, would develop his skills as a hunter and woodsman.


Ghost Town Explorer


On May 8th, 1854 Mountain Charlie and his friend “Taylor” were attacked by a Grizzly Bear while heading to town for supplies. The bear was laying in wait near a thicket when it sprang towards them. Both men were able to fire a shot, but it was to late. The bear grabbed Charlie and bit him in the face and arms. A chunk of his skull from his nose to his eye was bitten off. Once free the two men continued in to town where a specialist was summoned from San Jose. Dr. Ingersoll constructed a silver plate to repair the hole in Charlie’ face. A year later Charlie underwent surgery to remove an abscess under his swollen brain to relieve his continued pain. In 1858 Charlie was awarded a $6,000.00 contract by the Santa Cruz Turnpike Co. for the construction of a road between Mountain Charlie’s toll road at the summit to Hiram Scott’s residence, later known as Scotts Valley. In August of 1878 the road was claimed by the Santa Cruz board of supervisors and named a county road. Mountain Charlie died 1892 and was put to rest in the Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose.

For more information http://www.mountaincharlie1850.org

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