Rancho Carbonera, a large tract of land bordering
the San Lorenzo River north of Santa Cruz and
at the entrance to the San Lorenzo Valley, was
granted by Governor Alvarado to Jose Guillermo
Bocle in 1838. Bocle was a man of many aliases.
Boc, Bocle, Bucle, Thompson, and Mead were a few
names he used. He and his brother Samuel came
to California in 1823 and were naturalized in
1841. Bocle took the name of Thompson after the
American occupation of California. Guillermo,
or William, was an English sailor who came to
California and married Marin Antonia Castro, a
member of one of California's first families.
Rancho Carbonera consisted on 15,000 acres, including Thompson's Flat on which the present Paradise Masonic Park is now located. The southern section of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was within this Rancho.
In 1860, what is claimed to be the first paper mill in California was established on the San Lorenzo River at what was later to be known as Powder Flat. The mill had a daily output of a ton of coarse brown paper. The mill was established here because of an abundant pup and water supply, and the nearby ocean shipping. The plant survived for only two years because of two calamities. Flood played havoc with the mill, and its superintendent, Henry Van Valkenburg, died. This mill was located within one half mile of the present southern boundary of the park.
In 1864, the California Powder Works started production of black powder on the paper mill site. The 1,300 foot water diversion tunnel has since collapsed, but remnants of the flume and the diversion dam can still be found within the park. Originally the plant was established because of the seemingly unlimited supply of wood for charcoal, a plentiful water supply, and close proximity to ocean transportation. The passing of commerce from ocean traffic to the railroad made it more economical to manufacture powder elsewhere, so the plant and many of the workers moved to the DuPont plant at Hercules, California, in 1916.