Latitude / Longitude:
37°10′48″N 121°58′48″W / 37.18000°N 121.98000°W / 37.18000 -121.98000
551 ft (168 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Alma is a ghost town in Santa Clara County in California, United States. It lies beneath the waters of the Lexington Reservoir above Los Gatos. The location is latitude 37.18N and longitude 121.98W. It was 551 ft (168 meters) above sea level.
There are two different possible origins for the name of the town. The first is that the town was the location of a branch road that led to the New Almaden mine. The second, and more fanciful, origin is that the town was named after a local prostitute. The original town name registered with the Postal Service in 1861 was Lexington. It was re-registered as Alma in 1873.
Some foundational structures are only visible when the water levels drop in the reservoir, and some old roads and a bridge dating from 1926. The bridge can only be viewed when the water level is unusually low, such as the summer of 2008 when construction on the dam lowered the water level to 7% capacity. Modern day State Route 17 passes by the reservoir—beneath which lie the former towns of Lexington and Alma. A U.S. Weather Bureau cooperative weather station in Alma reported average annual rainfall of 22.60 inches (573.5 millimeters).
The town was mostly demolished when the James J. Lenihan Dam was constructed there in 1952. Alma, at the time, had a population of fewer than 100 people. The town was an important rail stop for the logging industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as a stop for vacationers heading to the coast from the Santa Clara Valley. Just north of Alma was the town of Lexington, which had greatly declined by the time that dam and reservoir were constructed. Alma had a stage stop, hotel, saloons, small agricultural operations, general merchandise store, and lumber mills, as well as other establishments. The South Pacific Coast Railroad served Alma between 1880 and 1940, providing service between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz via Wrights, also known as Wrights Station or Wright’s Station.