Holy City USA: Where Trucks go to Die
Holy City is marked by a tiny sign near of summit of California's Highway 17, aptly named by my late family member "The Highway from Hell."
Holy City existed briefly on Old Santa Cruz Highway, the only route from Santa Cruz to San Jose prior to Highway 17. Built in the early 1900's on 30 acres of land, like any good ghost town, it began with a single man, a "born again" philosophy, and about 30 residents. The perfect pit stop for early American tourists on their way south to Santa Cruz or north to San Jose, the small town boasted large carnivalesque religious signs, and by the mid 1930's had three hundred residents, a restaurant, and an observation tower.
I've wound my way through the Santa Cruz Mountains hundreds of time in my short life, always curious about the small sign on the side of the road, and never took the time to explore Holy City.
The Holy City in my mind was a ghost town transported here from some Hollywood back lot, complete with saloon double doors and rattle snake carcasses.
As it turns out, my imagined Holy City couldn't have been farther from the lost town's reality. Holy City began it's decline in the late 1930's as the rose colored cult glasses began to fade. A series of mysterious fires brought down the last of the once bustling oasis.
Today, Holy City is a couple empty buildings on a small stretch of road where trucks go to die.
My hope for Holy City was to discover the mecca of local relics. Unfortunately, my hopes were crushed, just like Holy City was, decades ago.
It was a reminder--imagination far exceeds reality, and that is okay.
So, for now, I'll continue to imagine my glorified version of this ghost town, knowing sometimes it's better to spend your life wondering.