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He built corrals and houses for himself and his employees and expanded the road system.
Shaw was the first rancher to ship sheep to San Francisco by steamer, some selling at per animal.
The highest peak is Devils Peak, at 2450 feet (747 m).
It was the largest privately owned island off the continental United States but is currently jointly owned by the National Park Service (24%), and the Nature Conservancy (76%).
One of the investors, Justinian Caire, was a French immigrant and founder of a successful San Francisco hardware business that sold equipment to miners.
By the late 1880s Caire had acquired all of the shares of the Santa Cruz Island Company which he and his colleagues had founded in 1869.
His map named Santa Cruz Island the Isla de Gente Barbuda (island of the bearded people).
He imported cattle, horses, and sheep to the island and erected one of the earliest wharves along the California coast at Prisoners Harbor by 1869.
Shaw continued to manage it as superintendent and was charged by Barron to expand the sheep ranching operation begun during the Castillero era.
The Civil War significantly increased the demand for wool and by 1864 some 24,000 sheep grazed the hills and valleys of Santa Cruz Island.
Native villagers had no known contact with Europeans until the 16th and early 17th centuries.
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who is credited with the first European exploration of the California coast, observed at least six villages, though he and his crew did not come ashore. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno led the last Spanish expedition to California.
In an effort to increase the Mexican presence, the government began sending convicted criminals to populate many areas.