With a population over 10,000 in 2010, Soquel has an old-world feel with abundant history, and current beauty of valleys, hills, farmland, and urban growth.There are a variety of neighborhoods, shopping, parks, and great places to eat. Located a short distance inland from the beach community of Capitola, Soquel (pronounced So-kell) has a lot to offer. Median home prices were over $800,000 in 2016, so it is definitely more home to the wealthier population, though prices have changed a bit. However, with a old town feel of the downtown area of Soquel Village, the Soquel Hills, and numerous Santa Cruz Mountain wineries, it is easy to see being attracted to the town,which is why this city has become such a popular destination.
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Soquel Village is an antique lover's heaven.With numerous antique shops, fine restaurants, and craft galleries there is something for everyone. Located above Soquel Village in the picturesque hills is Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery. Also located within Soquel is the Bargetto Winery. The Bargetto family has been making wines within the Santa Cruz Mountains for many generations. They have a beautiful courtyard, tasting room, and art gallery which overlook the calming Soquel Creek. Although only open on Saturdays, the Soquel Vineyards which have ocean views is another do-not-miss winery.
There is quite a bit for people to partake of within Soquel. Besides the fine shopping, and eating there is also a great park named Anna Jean Cummings Park. This park was completed and opened in the summer of 2001 (although the upper portion was finished in 2002). Encompassing 95 acres it is located next to Soquel High School. There remains room for permanent open spaces as well as future recreational uses. There is a lower level that includes two children's play locales as well as a large pavilion-style picnic area with a gazebo and separate restroom. There are covered seating areas to read a book or enjoy the surroundings, as well as paths for a peaceful walk.
On the upper level of the park are two multi-purpose fields designed for Little League, softball, or soccer, as well as two separate soccer fields. Picnic sections also surround the fields and are served by a restroom/concession facility that is attached to an outdoor equipment storage spot as well as maintenance. Another cool feature of Santa Cruz County is that the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors established a "Percent for Art Program" applicable to County construction endeavors. Up to 2% of construction costs for new parks or buildings can be parceled out to place public artwork at the site. Skyballs created by Katherine Keefer, and Steve Gillman in 2001 is the art located at Anna Jean Cummings Park. A very cool sight to see, the four sky-blue balls appear to be rolling down the pitched hill. A team of artists erected the 8-9 foot diameter concrete spheres.
East of Soquel Village is the Soquel Hills which extends the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. You will find farms, expansive pastures, houses on acreages, and astonishing valley views. Some of the neighborhoods within Soquel are: Corte Cabrillo; Seacrest; Evergreen Estates, which has a lovely shared green-space area for all the homeowners to enjoy and is close to parks; Tiffany Gardens; Soquel Rancho; and Santa Cruz Gardens.
Named after an Indian village, Soquel began as a cattle community. The land that Soquel lies upon was originally part of the Castro land granted by the Mexican government. Soquel became a township in 1852 and was the third largest community in the county by 1860. Soquel Creek was an essential part of the growth of Soquel due to the water power for milling and manufacturing. In what is present day Capitola, was then the mouth of Soquel Creek, and had a major wharf known as Soquel Landing. Many of the lumber products were shipped out from Soquel Landing. The creek also gave life to a flour mill, woolen mill, sawmills, and paper mill.
Rancho Soquel equaled 1668 acres bounded by Rancho Aptos on the east; Monterey Bay on the south end; Rancho Rodeo on the west; and by public lands of Soquel Augmentation on the north. Today that land not only includes Soquel, but also a major portion of the city of Capitola, parts of Cabrillo College, and east of Soquel Creek. Also to come out of the land is the current subdivision of New Brighton Beach, and Monterey Bay Heights.
The Rancho Soquel was deeded to the granddaughter of Joaquin Castro. Martina Castro was born in the villa Branciforte in 1807. Once grown, Martina married a corporal, who sadly, died 6 years later. As Martina was a single woman with major land holdings there were many who wanted to gain her favor. Irish entrepreneur Michael Lodge won her heart. Lodge had landed in the region after jumping ship from a whaling vessel. With Michael's encouragement, the Rancho was enlarged to encompass an additional 32,000 acres. Much this additional land, though, was heavily forested with redwoods. Michael recognized the potential to make huge profit and therefore contacted John Hames and John Daubenbiss who built a sawmill to cut the tees into lumber. John Daubenbiss was an early businessman who founded the mill that was built in 1846.
Unfortunately, with heavy rains came floods due to the large trees becoming lodged on the bridges which in turn would create a dam which would flood all the low land businesses and homes.Records indicate that Soquel has suffered through at least a dozen severe floods. Now, bridges are built with higher arches to accommodate the many large trees that come sailing down the creek. However, in 1847 a deluge washed away the sawmill on the banks of the Soquel Creek. At that time there are four other mills in the area cutting the vast redwoods in the surrounding the hills. The gorgeous Daubenbiss home sits on the hill overlooking Soquel, and a road is also named for Daubenbiss. To learn about more of the fascinating history of Soquel read more on the Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association.
Today, the landmark of the white-steeple Congregational church remains, within the quaint existence that is Soquel. Fine restaurants, wonderful shopping, and great schools; including: Soquel Union Elementary School District as well as Mountain Elementary School, makes up this fine city. The homes vary from condominiums to ocean view homes, and the land stretches from ranches to the Santa Cruz Mountains. No wonder Soquel is a great place to live as well as spend the day visiting all the fabulous sites that constitute this sweet town.
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