Home Adventures Travel Secret History Hooey History Biography Gallery Contact


The two Loch Lomonds have a similar appearance, but one, the original in Scotland (left) is a gazillion years old, while the other in Santa Cruz County is just shy of fifty.

< Back to Secret History

Secret History


What's with all those Scottish names?

It's as if a Scottish giant stood over the Santa Cruz Mountains and sprinkled Scottish names up and down the valleys like some kind of Scottish confetti. There are Bens and Glens and Braes and Lomonds and Doons. You might think it represents some huge influence and contributions from Scottish immigrants, the likes of which occurred over in Monterey County. Monterey had lots of early influential Scottish immigrants, including David Spence, Jack Swan and the largest immigrant landowner, David Jacks. Even a short-time visiting Scotsman named Robert Louis Stevenson left his mark on the land. But there's no scattering of Scottish names like those in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Donald T. Clark, in his essential Santa Cruz County Place Names, (disclosure: I wrote the introduction to the book) believed that it all began with a Scottish immigrant named John Burns who, sometime in the 1850s, named the large hump of a mountain Ben Lomond after the Scottish mountain of the same name. In the 1880s, the residents of the small town at its base decided to name their town Ben Lomond and Scottish-sounding names burst out all over the place. There is a little-people-in-the-woods cutesy feel about the names that emerged below Ben Lomond, and they seem much more appropriate to the Santa Cruz County redwood forests with its painted troll statues than they do to Monterey County. Whimsical. Quaint.

The Coming and Going of the Dam Builders – The Legacy of Baldwin Hills, 1963
Postwar planning, and concerns about flood control after the December 1955 floods, resulted in a number of dam projects projected for Santa Cruz County. One 260 foot high dam proposed for Soquel Creek would have spanned the entire Soquel Valley and have impounded a 1,000 acre lake. But, the failure of a dam in Baldwin Hills (Southern California) on December 14, 1963, and the resulting damage caused by the downstream flooding, helped galvanize opposition to the Soquel dam (and all similarly-constructed dams). For the amazing aerial footage of the actual collapse of the dam go here. By March of 1964, the Soquel dam project was abandoned. The Baldwin Hills disaster halted the postwar Santa Cruz County dam-building flurry, and though there were many other dam sites and projects on the books (including one on Aptos Creek) no sizable dams have been built since.

Newell Creek Reservoir and the "Scottish Atmosphere Movement"
One Santa Cruz County project sneaked under the wire and was completed and dedicated before the 1963 Baldwin Hills dam failure. In the 1950s, as a response to a perceived marginal water supply, the city of Santa Cruz began acquiring property and planning for a dam to create a water-storage reservoir in a narrow canyon on Newell Creek, near Lompico. The dam was completed in the fall of 1960 and by March of 1963, water was spilling over the spillway.

During the dam's construction, Ben Lomond resident Jean Hopfer, lobbied the Santa Cruz City Council to name the reservoir Loch Lomond as it lay at the foot of the mountain of the same name, just as the namesake Loch Lomond did in Scotland. The city council agreed, and preparations were made for a grand Scottish celebration to mark the dedication of the lake. Recognizing that the Scottish names in that area were less than truly organic—that is had grown from some sizable and influential Scottish community – the local newspaper termed it the "Ben Lomond Scottish atmosphere movement."

The Dedication and Mingling of the Waters – Sunday, July 28, 1963


The dedication of Loch Lomond. From left to right, Margaret Browning, Anne Laurie, Sheriff's Captain Wesley Hopfer, Mrs. Jean Hopfer. Jean Hopfer was the driving force behind the naming of the reservoir
Thousands of kilts and bagpipes descended on Ben Lomond the weekend of July 27-28, 1963 for the wall-to-wall Scottish Festival. The event included piping and dance competitions, but there weren't any of what might be termed the "throwing of heavy objects," such as the caber toss. Then, at 11:30 AM on July 28, Mrs. Wes Hopfer poured a bottle of water from Scotland's Loch Lomond into the new Loch Lomond Reservoir. The water had been transported by the U.S. Navy to the Lockheed Missile site on the top of Ben Lomond and then down to Mr. Hopfer's eager hands, where she emptied the bottle into the new reservoir.

The Two Lakes – The Original Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond is about 14 miles north of Glasgow in the south of Scotland. It is a natural fresh-water lake, 24 miles long, and is the largest (surface area) lake in all of Great Britain. Loch Lomond is an extremely popular vacation spot for folks living in the Glasgow area. Scotland's most famous song The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond was written in 1841 about the lake:
The first stanza:

Oh, ye'll tak the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye:
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.


Santa Cruz County's Loch Lomond
Only 3 miles long, Santa Cruz County's Loch Lomond is not only much younger, but it has many more restrictions on the recreational possibilities for the lake. It provides approximately 25% of Santa Cruz City's water supply.

< Back to Secret History