A hundred years ago, the intense heat from the kiln fires would have kept you at a distance. Shouts and curses in Portuguese and Italian would fill the air as men labored to quarry stone, work the kilns, and haul in hundreds of loads of firewood. Occasionally, the ground shook as workers blasted rock from the cliff face up the canyon.
During much of the late 1800s Santa Cruz County led the State in the manufacture of lime. It was mainly shipped to San Francisco where it was used to make mortar for brick buildings.
To make lime, chunks of limestone were "cooked" in kilns at about 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. This removed carbon dioxide from the rock, leaving behind calcium oxide or lime. The pieces of lime were then packed in barrels for shipping.
These kilns were built in the mid 1870s by I.X.L. Lime Company and operated on and off until 1919. By then, most of the surrounding redwoods has been cut to fuel the kilns or make barrels.