Scotts Valley: Beautiful quirks and local lore

The gingerbread house at Santa's Village in Scotts Valley in a photo from the 1960s.

Santa’s Village: Santa’s Village was a year-round, holiday-themed winter wonderland amusement park. The popular Christmas destination opened in 1957 and was one of several Santa’s Village theme parks that brought in thousands of visitors annually. Complete with candy cane lanes, gingerbread houses and a reindeer petting zoo, the locale is memorialized by Santas Village Road off of Highway 17.

The Tree Circus: In 1947, Axel Erlandson opened the Tree Circus featuring trees grafted and trained to take strange and unusual shapes. The Tree Circus added large, painted dinosaurs overlooking Highway 17 in 1964 and changed its name to The Lost World. The surviving trees have since been moved to Gilroy Gardens family theme park.

The Barn: Scotts Valley was once home to The Barn — an old polo-barn-turned-coffee house with a large area for concerts that hosted Janis Joplin and Grateful Dead, among other big acts, in the 1960s.

Silicon City: Scotts Valley is the original home of Borland Software Corporation — a defunct software company that was the trailblazer for today’s large-scale consumer software programs like Microsoft Office. Though the company has since moved on, its founder and CEO, Philippe Kahn, is still in Santa Cruz.

Seagate Technology also started in Scotts Valley. The multibillion-dollar data storage company was headquartered in Scotts Valley for nearly four decades until it moved over the hill in 2011. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon to see the company’s president, Al Shugart, and his Hawaiian shirts around town.

Though these businesses have since moved on, Scotts Valley’s silicon roots run deep — it reigns supreme in the number of patents owned per capita, besting the likes of even Palo Alto, according to council member Derek Timm.

Cops Valley: Kids and locals alike commonly refer to the area as “Cops Valley.” It isn’t surprising, then, that Scotts Valley has the lowest crime rate in Santa Cruz County. My experience has been that officers will pull you over for a taillight out and then talk sports with you for 20 minutes.

Advice for drivers: Obey the 35-mph speed limit along Scotts Valley Drive.
Advice to cyclists: Stop at stop signs, even if you have a lot of speed.
Advice to skateboarders: I don’t give advice to skateboarders.

A tree trimmer rests in one of Axel Erlandson's Tree Circus creations in a photo from the 1960s.

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