Recently my husband and I were looking for something to do that would divert us from our everyday life. We couldn’t go great distances for our getaway but we could go back in time. How’s that done? You may ask.
I was pretty sure that San Jose has a collection of old buildings open for touring. We looked into it and confirmed that a section of Kelley Park houses San Jose’s History Park . After a big pancake Saturday breakfast we were ready to visit history.
History Park’s main entrance at the end of Phelan Avenue opens up to a wide pedestrian-only tree lined street – huge wood barn on the right and historical homes on the left. We veered right toward the crusty Associated Gasoline station and the blacksmith shed with early farm tractor out front. Taking in the scene by snapping pictures, we spun back to the Trolley Barn.
Caught Up in the Trolley Barn
Trolley Barn volunteers – train and trolley enthusiasts – greeted us and shared their wisdom about some of the vehicles found inside.
The 1914 electric-horseless-carriage caught my attention. I was amazed that a car from so long ago runs on 14 car batteries (no gas) and has the capability to be re-charged. I did “know” that different car manufacturers tried out different fuel sources – electricity being one of them. But I’d never seen a car with a carriage inspired frame filled with 14 car batteries before. And it works!
The barn houses several vintage trolleys that volunteers preserve, display and give rides around the park on. We got to check out a 1930s era streetcar, with a guided demo on how to start it and clang the bell to get pedestrians off the tracks.
Later in the day we rode the outdoor track around the perimeter of History Park. The car we were in was open air at the ends – nice for warm San Jose days – while the middle of the car is covered.
I highly recommend the Trolley Barn to car, train or trolley buffs. Don’t miss their special Transportation Day celebration held on Father’s Day every year. All the cars and trolleys – that are able – are taken out for a spin.
Catch up on our adventure at History Park next week: Ice Cream for Lunch at O’Brien’s, Wild West to Orchards and Housing Cultural History – all covered in Part 2.