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Zayante Publishing is a Santa Cruz local history publisher intent on making history accessible and affordable by using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to print books and local retailers to get books to market.

Santa Cruz Trains

For nearly a century, Santa Cruz County was a vibrant railroading scene, with mainlines climbing over the Santa Cruz Mountains and up the Pajaro Valley, and branch lines snaking up the coast and along the rivers and creeks of the county. Briefly, the county was one of the biggest industrial centers on the West Coast. And then most of the trees were gone, many of the other industries closed, and automobiles replaced trains. This series documents the rise and fall of the railroading industry in Santa Cruz County through history books, pictorials, children’s books, and other media.

Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Coast

Railroads of the
Santa Cruz Coast

Future release
The Road to San Francisco cover

The Road to
San Francisco

Future release

The Secret History of Santa Cruz County

Much has been written about Santa Cruz County, but more remains forgotten or secreted away. This series brings to light long out-of-print books, dusty manuscripts, and other lost material documenting the history of the county from pre-colonial times to the present. If you know of any out-of-copyright or unpublished material that you feel would benefit from publication, please fill out the contact form below with your ideas.

Authors Blog

Check out the authors blog for recent updates on new releases and details on upcoming books.


Written with the enthusiasm and discipline of a true student, the book’s organization almost imperceptibly builds a kind of dramatic tension as it goes on, under the guise of organizing the details by character and year, so simple, as if drawn from the scary stack of source papers one by one, yet so thoughtful and suspenseful. The book not only paints the characters, places and events, but gives the reader a tool for future study by including the very maps, court documents, legal processes and cultural mores that make the case of Soquel come to life after 150 years.

– Eugenio Negro, GoodReads review for The Tragedy of Martina Castro

Santa Cruz Trains…is the wave of the future. The story of American railroad engineering and construction and land use is now some 18 decades along, and much of what was done with the best of in- tentions – even in the “young” West – has been plowed under in the interest of progress. If you are interested in the trains and locomotives themselves, Santa Cruz Trains might not serve your purposes. On the other hand, if you desire direct contact with the past, here is a formula that just might work.

– Joseph A. Strapac, Railroad History review for Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Derek Whaley lays out the fascinating history of the railroads of Santa Cruz County, including the South Pacific Coast’s epic campaign to conquer the mountain route from San Jose to the coast. The photographs and maps alone are worth the price but Whaley’s brilliant telling of the story likely makes this the definitive work on the great timber railroads of the central coast.

– Brian Liddicoat, Amazon review for Santa Cruz Trains: Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains

For those who enjoyed the text and photos in Derek Whaley’s outstanding book Railroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this book provides further insight into the beautiful scenery along the track and surrounding countryside…. To leaf through this book allows us to escape into another world in time and space we would all love to visit in person.

– Duncan Nanney, Amazon review for Santa Cruz Trains: Reflections on the Mountain Route


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About the name Zayante and the quail logo

Thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived in California, the Awaswas-speaking peoples of the Ohlone Native Americans settled in Santa Cruz County. Every year they ventured into the mountains to hunt, gather fruits and nuts, and collect supplies for their homes and tools. The Sayante were one such band and visited the San Lorenzo Valley each summer.

The Mexican government later recognized the importance of the name to the area and applied it to Rancho Zayante, which was controlled for two decades by Isaac Graham, who founded one of the county’s first commercial lumber mills. The long creek that flowed through much of his land also came to be known as Zayante and the name stuck when the South Pacific Coast Railroad established a station by that name high above the creek in 1880. Property subdivisions, hotels, and a post office took up the name as well. Today, it survives as one of only three Awaswas place names in use in the county.

The quail reflects the abundance of California quail in the Zayante Creek basin. At one point, the Lane family of Sunset magazine fame applied the name Quail Hollow to their ranch above the creek, cementing the association between the quail and Zayante.

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