Albert W.J. Gibbs saw the potential of the hilltop paradise when he opened Gibbs Ranch Resort among the pine trees and sand hills of the remote area. The resort consisted of a seasonal campground supported by a general store/community kitchen, a structure which survives to this day in modified form.
Regular Southern Pacific Railroad service to the resort began in 1891 at Zayante Station, a flag-stop situated high above Zayante Creek near its junction with Mountain Charlie Gulch.
Although the station was located above the creek, it barely serviced Zayante residents — most residents lived further south near the Meehan Siding or at Olympia.
Gibbs ran a stagecoach line between the station and his resort via a steep and decidedly over-glorified grade he named Alameda Boulevard.
The remains of this wagon trail still exist today and its core part saw upgrades in the late 1990s to provide a fire escape road for residents of Weston Road.
Increased interest in the otherwise little-known resort peaked in 1900, causing the United States Postal Service to open a post office at the ranch resort with Gibbs becoming the first postmaster.
The post office became a component part of the general store, though it was demoted to seasonal service in 1906. J.A. Gille took over as postmaster in that year and remained there until the end.
The mountain campground shut its doors in the early 1910s, but the post office did not close immediately. Gille moved the office down the hill to Zayante Station along the S.P. right-of-way in April 1916.
By 1936, the station serviced exactly 10 locals and as many as 400 seasonal vacationers, mostly campers from Camp Wasibo — a retreat for Camp Fire Girls — and passing travelers.
A general dearth of customers forced the post office to close in April 1938. The station survived until the abandonment of the railroad route over the Santa Cruz Mountains in March 1940.
- Derek Whaley is a local historian specializing in the railroading past of Santa Cruz County. For more information, visit his website at http://www.SantaCruzTrains.com/.