The Ben Lomond Fault runs along the base of the mountain, exposing huge amounts of limestone. This limestone was formed by heat and pressure crystallizing layers of tiny sea creature fossil remains. Heating raw limestone in kilns for several days yielded lime used in mortar and plaster staples of the building industry. Massachusetts native Henry Cowell bought an interest in the thriving Davis and Jordan Lime Company in 1865. Cowell renamed his venture the IXL Lime Company in 1888. At its highest demand, 80% of lime came from Santa Cruz County. Kilns were built on the North Fork of Fall Creek to convert the quarried rock into usable material. Hundreds of thousands of cords of wood were burned over the years to keep the kiln fires burning leaving the hills bare. Eventually, raw limestone and log supplies dwindled as concerns about deforestation arose and lime processing became obsolete. The Fall Creek kilns closed in 1919 after nearly 70 years of fullscale operation. Today, the old IXL lime kilns can be seen along the South Fork Trail; the second growth redwoods nearby testify to natures resilience as the hillsides become forested once again.
Take the Fall Creek trail to the Powder Magazine Lime Kiln, a historic part of why the Sate Park exists. Enjoy beautiful creeks and forested trails.
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