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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Jose in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails

 
 
The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 14, 2013
1. The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails Marker
Inscription. Heavy rains fell during March of 1911 causing rail service from the Penitencia Creek Entrance to the Picnic Grounds to close. The rains continued swelling Penitencia Creek until it overflowed its banks. On March 7 an 8-foot wall of water from the overflowing creek ran through the railroad tunnel. The flood collapsed the tunnel and wiped out most of the narrow gauge tracks.

The flood damage led to a new broad gauge rail line into the park. The Alum Rock Railway had been sold in 1905 and, over time, joined with the Peninsular Railway (part of the Southern Pacific). The new owners were quick to see the benefit of rebuilding the line in broad gauge – now the standard for railroads. The new broad gauge railway into the park was also built on raised trestles to reduce the danger of another flood.

The broad gauge railroad continued to bring thousands of visitors to the park from all over the San Francisco Bay Area until the automobile became the favorite way to travel. The last train left Alum Rock Park on June 12, 1932 and the old rails were removed in 1934.

Today, visitors to Alum Rock Park can still see the old bridge supports and bits of rail along the road from the entrance to the Mineral Springs Area.

Alum Rock Park Interpretive Series
San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 14, 2013
2. The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails Marker

 
Erected by San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
 
Location. 37° 23.657′ N, 121° 48.842′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker can be reached from Penitencia Creek Road, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. This marker is on the Creek Trail, accessed from the Eagle Rock Picnic Area parking lot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 15188 Penitencia Creek Road, San Jose CA 95132, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Alum Rock Log Cabin (approx. half a mile away); Steam Dummies & 25 Cents! (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Natatorium (approx. 0.6 miles away); Electrification (approx. 0.7 miles away); Historic Alum Rock Park (approx. 0.7 miles away); Welcome to Alum Rock Park (approx. 0.7 miles away); Mineral Springs Grotto (approx. one mile away); San Jose High School (approx. 4.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in San Jose.
 
Also see . . .  Cars Trump Trains and That Damned Creek is Dammed. Select article #7.
Steam shovels gouged their way through the narrow canyon creating an entirely new heavy-duty roadbed. The new line was built along a higher elevation out of reach of future floods. In one part of the canyon, construction of a two-mile stretch of track cost the enormous sum of $150,000. Five bridges with spans ranging from 170 to 260 feet were built over Penitencia Creek. (Submitted on March 17, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 373 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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