Page Mill Road

I’ve been studying this old San Mateo County map that Casey Dunn shared with me. (Thanks Casey!!)

The map is from 1894, about 25 years before our neighborhood was carved out of a larger tract of land owned by a guy named Timothy Hopkins (son of the Central Pacific Railroad co-owner, Mark Hopkins.) You can see Timothy Hopkins, along with the Pescadero Lumber Company, labeled on the map as the prominent landowners in the area that is now Portola Redwoods State Park and Pescadero Creek (County) Park.

One curious feature of this map is that it shows the precise location of William Page’s sawmill, and it was about 900 feet from our house!

William Page was a lumberman from Mayfield (incorporated into Palo Alto in 1925) who, with Hopkins and others, clear cut and milled much of the local redwood forest.

One of Page’s (then) dirt roads, which was used to transport the output of his mill to the San Francisco Bay for shipping, went from what is now Portola Redwoods State Park (which surrounds our little neighborhood) up and over the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountain range and down into Palo Alto.

That road, called Page Mill Road, is much of my commute to work (in non-pandemic times).

As an unapologetic tree hugger, living under the canopy of the second growth redwood forest, I find it pretty interesting that we are right next to Page’s mill site, an operation that decimated so much of the ancient redwoods, turning them into the shingles and lumber used to build and re-build San Francisco.

section of an old San Mateo County map from the 1860s showing the location of the Page Saw Mill