Friday, April 15, 2011

Museum at Forbes Mill, Los Gatos, Ca

James Alexander Forbes, hoping to strike gold by piggybacking on the California Gold Rush, began building Forbes Mill along the banks of the Los Gatos Creek in 1853. His plan was to capitalize on the gold miners'' demand for bread by operating a flour mill. The mill was the first building and the first business in what eventually became Los Gatos.
He was plagued by financial problems, however, and by the time the mill was producing Santa Rosa Brand flour, eight other mills had sprung up. The competition proved too much for Forbes, and in
1857, the mill and the surrounding 2,000-acre Santa Rosa Ranch--comprising much of the area east of Los Gatos Creek-- were sold off in a bankruptcy auction.
The mill did have a profitable run following its purchase in 1869 when it became the Los Gatos Manufacturing Co. In 1881, an annex was built onto the mill.
Today, the the mill is gone, but the annex is the site of the Forbes Mill Museum, a small, regional history museum operated by the nonprofit Los Gatos Museum Association, which also operates an art and natural history museum in town.
For years, the Museum Association struggled with financial problems. Then, in the summer of 1996, the association board learned that a woman who had lived in Los Gatos as a child had died and left $600,000 to the two small museums.
James Alexander Forbes never did "strike gold" with his mill, but to the longtime volunteers who learned of the windfall during a meeting at the Forbes Mill Museum, it felt quite a bit like striking gold.
The museum promotes the understanding of the regions rich local history including stories from the gold rush, showcase of clothes worn, the legacy of the South Pacific Coast and Southern Pacific Railroads and the interurban trolleys, and the historic James Alexander Forbes Santa Rosa flour mill. Tours are available. There is convenient parking.
  Operating Hours
Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 to 4:00 PM.


Disabled access



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75 Church Street Visit MapQuest for this Address

Contact Info

Phone: 408-395-7375

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