San Jose in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
By 1896, Hugh Center had the line running well and was giving special attention to power. For the first few years, the trains were steam powered and had frequent breakdowns. Center believed the trains could be made to run better. Many train riders also complained about the soot and ash that fell on them as the rode the train. Many riders had holes burned through their clothes from the falling hot embers.
In September of 1901, Center told the local newspaper that he was going to change the railroad from steam power to electricity. The largest gasoline-fueled electric powerhouse on the entire west coast was built near the Penitencia Creek Road entrance to Alum Rock Park.
The change to electricity was completed in April of 1902. Now visitors could ride the narrow-gauge electric (as it was known by locals) from downtown San Jose all the way to the park’s main picnic area. The large, comfortable rail cars had 20 big windows for clear views of local points of interest. Some riders even reached out the windows to pick fruit from branches that brushed the sides of the cars as they passed through the Pala Olive Groves.
San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
Erected by San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
Location. 37° 23.735′ N, 121° 49.55′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is on Penitencia Creek Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. This marker is located in the parking lot at the entrance to Alum Rock Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 15155 Penitencia Creek Road, San Jose CA 95132, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Steam Dummies & 25 Cents! (within shouting distance of this marker); The Flood of 1911 and Broad Gauge Rails (approx. 0.7 miles away); Alum Rock Log Cabin (approx. 1.2 miles away); The Natatorium (approx. 1.3 miles away); Historic Alum Rock Park (approx. 1.3 miles away); Welcome to Alum Rock Park (approx. 1.3 miles away); Mineral Springs Grotto (approx. 1.6 miles away); San Jose High School (approx. 4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
Also see . . . The Alum Rock Railway Goes Electric…….With Fatalities. Select article # 7. The Alum Rock Railway line into the park switched from steam engines to electric during the great push for electrification and expansion of the Bay Area railroad system in 1901. The largest gasoline-fueled electric powerhouse on the entire West Coast was constructed at the mouth of Alum Rock Canyon close to the park’s lower entrance. (Submitted on March 17, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 260 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 17, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.