The third hydroelectric power plant in California, built by Fred Swanton, local promoter and founder of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, began operations on this site March of 1896.
In the plant's final configuration, water from Big Creek, Boyer Creek and Mill Creek flowed through more than five miles of redwood flumes to a reservoir and penstock 925 feet above the power house, down through a 22 inch pressure pipe turning three Pelton water wheels. Depending on the season and water available, up to 1100 kilowatts of electricity was sent 18 miles to Santa Cruz.
Big Creek Water Company became Big Creek Light And Power Company and in 1912 merged with other power companies to form Coast Counties Gas And Electric Company.
Profitable until the flumes were destroyed by a large forest fire in September of 1948, the plant was scrapped in the early 1950s.