Friday, October 8, 2010

The Mountain Echo

Here is one of the famous "Mountain Echo" leaves of Luther Eames McQuesten, born 1866. 

Luther was a gold miner, a fisherman, a nature lover, and a dreamer in the California county of Santa Cruz. He was employed as a printer at the old Santa Cruz "Surf" newspaper when he set off on an adventure to edit his own newspaper - the Boulder Creek "Mountain Echo." This latter newspaper was founded in 1896 by C.C. Rodgers. When Rodgers passed away, his brother took over the business for a short while before leasing the newspaper to the idealist, McQuesten, in 1914 – just at a time when the economy of this lumber boom town found itself in a steep decline.

Perhaps more infamous than famous, old Boulder Creek once had 26 saloons, gambling houses, cat houses and hotels. Ravaged by fire in 1891, many of the "new" buildings are over 100 years old. Below is one of those many places of "ill-repute" - Sarmento's Saloon.

Despite his best efforts, within two years McQuesten found himself deep in debt, unable to collect money owed to him by subscribers and advertisers. Out of newsprint, and in an attempt to embarrass those who owed him money, Luther published two week's editions of his newspaper on larger leaves. The November 11, and November 18, 1916 issues of the "Mountain Echo" are probably the only newspaper editions ever published that could truly be called "leaflets."

In the November 18th issue, the still optimistic Luther writes - "Boulder Creek is a deserted lumber camp 14 miles up the San Lorenzo canyon, reached by a branch of the Southern Pacific and a good stage road. The last of seven lumber mills has shut down for lack of material. Quite a few of the inhabitants, who appreciate only stampage value, think that the town has seen its best days, but visitors passing through the State Redwood Park 12 miles beyond are delighted with the mountain scenery, babbling brooks, gigantic redwoods, the rare bracing atmosphere and pure water. A second growth has already hidden the scars of the woodsman and the hills are again clothed in perpetual verdure. The confluence of Bear Creak and Boulder Creek with the San Lorenzo river at this point furnishes excellent trout fishing streams. Deer and other game abound in the fastness of the mountains. Quite a few (vacationers) already are taking advantage of the low price on summer home sites and ere long this place will out-rival the neighboring resorts of Brookdale and Ben Lomond. Property owners will pay as liberally for finding purchases, so the Echo will cheerfully answer all inquiries."

Luther died November 25, 1936 leaving behind his wife and two daughters. His obituary and the story of his famous leaves was told in the San Francisco Examiner the following day. He was a dreamer but also a prophet, it seems, as Boulder Creek is now generally known as the gateway town to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's oldest State Park, founded in 1902. Luther's leaves are protected at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum in Boulder Creek.

No comments:

Post a Comment