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Rancho Cañada del Rincon en el Rio San Lorenzo

Rancho Cañada del Rincon en el Rio San Lorenzo de Santa Cruz was granted to Pedro Sansevain in 1843. Granted originally in the amount of about 8,800 acres by the Mexican Government, the claim later came before the U.S. Land Commission and the courts finally patented it to the extent of 5,827 acres. Originally a French immigrant named Pierre Sansevain, he adopted the Spanish name Pedro along with the necessary citizenship to qualify as a land grantee.

In 1855 gold was discovered in a small creek opposite the present picnic area. During the summer of that year, miners realized three to ten dollars a day for their efforts. This area is known to us today as Gold Gulch.

Sansevain went into the lumber business on his Rancho and his mill seems to have been located in the area of Gold Gulch and the San Lorenzo River. This area is directly across from the Henry Cowell picnic grounds. A large section of the Rincon Rancho was traded in 1859 to the Davis and Jordan Lime Company for their $150,000 coastal steamer, The Santa Cruz. The vessel had proven to be too large for use by the lime company. Sansevain tried the steamer on a coastal run but sold it to new owners who took it across the Pacific where it burned on the Yangtse River in 1861.

Then came Henry Cowell in 1865. Davis and Jordan had established their kilns in Santa Cruz and had previously deeded the Paradise tract to the California Powder Works, with right of way for dams, flumes, and a tunnel. After Cowell bought into the company lime quarries were developed at Rincon and the kilns were moved from Santa Cruz. The obvious reason for this move was the excellent grade of limestone and large quantities of available fuel.

With the exception of a small parcel or parcels of land at the northern boundary of the park and possibly a small area at the southern boundary, the greater part of the park and the site of the Rincon lime kilns lies within the Old Rancho Rincon. The lime and cement business had been an early factor in the development of the area in and around Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

In the mid-1860's, Judge Edward Stanley acquired part of the Rincon Rancho from his uncle who had earlier taken it from Isaac Graham on a mortgage. Stanley became the owner of the land where the town of Felton now stands and the acreage containing the virgin stand of redwoods known as the Cowell Redwood Grove.

In 1867 Joseph Warren Welch purchased 350 acres from Judge Stanley containing the forty acre stand of virgin redwood. The purchase was made at a time when Stanley is said to have contemplated logging the area. The following year Welch planned a resort building with dining room, kitchen, and sleeping rooms, and opened the grove to the public.