April 2017:

Our application for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources
has been agendized to be heard at the quarterly meeting
of the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) in Pasadena on May 10th.


If you haven’t already done so, we hope you will write to the Commission:
>> Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer, California State Parks, at julianne.polanco@parks.ca.gov 
Please copy William Burg, State Historian, at william.burg@parks.ca.gov 
(And I’d appreciate a copy as well: Larry@WGTrestle.org )

Subject: “In Support of Willow Glen Trestle for State Historic Nomination”


Please email by April 25th,
and write about how and why you feel the trestle is important to you personally and/or to our local history in Willow Glen.  

Possible ideas:
* Have you or your family members been affected by the trestle -- did anyone in your family work at a cannery?
* Do you appreciate that Willow Glen has remained a residential community, as promised back in the 1920s by local rail-magnate T.S.Montgomery, even though the railroad could easily have enabled industrial development in Willow Glen?
* Do you appreciate that San Jose doesn’t have railroad tracks running right down the middle of town on 4th Street, thanks to the way city officials in the 1920s played competing railroads against one-another to get the tracks moved?
* Or you could just write about how you appreciate the historic character of our community and hope we can preserve some ties to our past!

Many thanks!


>> Here’s a letter of support from County Supervisor Dave Cortese.


Other updates:

·       City approved construction of the Three Creeks Trail up to the trestle, 3/7/17
(Council agenda & memo; LLA letter & talk)

·       We had our “remand hearing” in Santa Clara Co. Superior Court
Friday, February 3rd, at the Downtown Superior Court, 191 N. First St.
Department 10: Honorable Helen E. Williams.  (Here’s our filed brief.)
Next step: various briefs and responses are now being filed,
Judge Williams will review all the information, and then a decision is made.
(She has 90 days to decide, but may rule earlier.  We are optimistic!)
(Here’s a chart showing the Trestle’s timeline.)

·         After days of heavy January rains (the “Pineapple Express”),
Lexington Reservoir filled to overflowing,
and the Los Gatos Creek rose to about the “once in 10 years” flood level.
Debris collected on the trestle, but the water flowed thru and on past the trestle just fine!
The following week, Steve Holmes organized a clean-up,
and bags of trash (and a dozen basketballs!) were removed.

(The February floods of the Coyote didn’t affect the Trestle of the Los Gatos Creek – different watersheds.)

·         When asked by Assemblymember Evan Low that we “Suggest a Law”
we suggested one to clarify and reaffirm CEQA rules for historic preservation.



older news …


Two (temporary) setbacks…

  The Keeper of the National Historic Register returned the trestle’s nomination,
as described in an SJMN article (9/26/16).

[Note: the nomination was not “rejected”, and we are working to address the Keeper’s concerns.]

Official draft minutes of State Historical Resources Commission meeting,

Link to audio recording (the WG Trestle discussion begins at about time = 1:18:40]),

Transcription of SHRC meeting, and link to chart-set
[opposing letter sent by City.]


  The Appellate Court ruled (8/12/16) in favor of the City on a ’standard of review’ legal issue,
as described in an
SJMN article (8/23/16),
even as the Court found that “[t]he City’s actions in approving the project before preparing and adopting
the MND [the required environmental study] violated CEQA [Calif. environmental law].”

As mentioned in another SJMN article (9/7/16),
we sought review of the appeal by the Calif. Supreme Court (9/21/16):

  Reply in Support of Petition for Review (Supreme Court Case No. S237378), by Friends of the WG Trestle (10/21/16)

  “Friend of the Court” brief by California Preservation Foundation, West Adams Heritage Association, Glendale Historical Society and Citizens to Save College Avenue (10/21/16)

  “Friend of the Court” brief by Save Our Heritage Organisation (San Diego) (10/21/16)

  “Friend of the Court” brief by United Auburn Indian Community and Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians (10/21/16)


The State Supreme Court on 10/26/16 declined to review the case.

This was not unexpected: the Supreme Court grants less than 1% of cases that seek review.


The issue now goes back to the Santa Clara County Superior Court,
where the original argument is to be reconsidered under slightly adjusted criteria
(basically whether the City had sufficient evidence that the trestle was NOT historic

rather than whether there was sufficient evidence that the trestle MIGHT BE historic).

We are very optimistic!




On June 2nd, 2016, a three-judge panel
for the 6th District Appellate Court heard oral arguments

on the City’s appeal of the Superior Court’s July 2014 decision

that the City had to do a proper environmental review
regarding the historic aspects of the Willow Glen Trestle.


the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC)
 has been ruled that the WG Trestle is eligible for listing

on the National Historic Register!

>> See Press Release <<

  SJ Merc. News Editorial 4/20/16

  SJ Merc. News Sal Pizarro “Zombie bridge” 4/21/16

  SJ Merc. News Julia Baum: next steps 4/23/16


The State Office of Historic Preservation (SOHP)

has evaluated our nomination of the trestle at their April 18, 2016 meeting!
It was one of only 11 statewide this quarter to make the cut!

You’re invited to read the trestle’s fascinating history

and see photos of it from various viewpoints.

Staff recommendation,

and letter of support from Wayne Donaldson
(Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, appointed by President Barack Obama)


We hope to save the trestle so that it can serve as a connection of Downtown to Willow Glen,
and a connection of future generations to our “Valley of Heart’s Delight” agricultural past!


The demolition plans are on hold -- see summary of process to date w/ updates (8/4/15)


In the meantime, we are seeking a listing of the trestle
as being “of Local Significance" on the National Historic Register. 

Such a listing would help save the trestle. 

The nomination is now pending before the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).


>> You can help! <<

Please write a note or letter to William Burg, Office of Historic Preservation.

>> Send an email to William.Burg@parks.ca.gov


If you’ve written in the past, many thanks! -- but it doesn’t count for this:

Rewrite your letter, addressed directly to William Burg at OHP,
and say why you feel that the WG Trestle is historic. 


You can talk about the structure itself;

you can talk about the impact of the Western Pacific railroad on the shaping of Willow Glen and San José,

the canneries,

the industrial developments north of the Los Gatos and the residential nature of Willow Glen,

the people involved in building or operating the trains – anything historical. 

If you have childhood memories to relate of the train going off to the canneries, that’d be great. 

It’s also fair to talk about the character of Willow Glen and how the trestle could be an iconic gateway to the community:

a connection not only to the Los Gatos Creek Trail from downtown, but also a connection between future generations and our agricultural past – a connection between “Silicon Valley” and “the Valley of Hearts Delight”.

(Note: only emphasize historic matters: comments on flood control, contamination impacts of disturbing the trestle, cost and schedules, riparian habitat preservation, etc., have no impact on the historic designation and would only add to the workload of the reviewers.)

>> Comments should be sent by March 15, 2016 <<


Here are links to:
*  System Map of Western Pacific Railroad

*  a map of the rail spurs in SJ serving the numerous canneries, etc., and

*  the spur map superimposed on a present-day street map.

[And here’s my personal letter.]


Want to see what a trestle trail looks like?  See photos of one in Houston Texas


Council approves the demolition plans:

On May 19th 2015, the SJ Council voted 7-2 to ignore the Historic Landmarks Commission recommendation,
to approve Staff's plans for the prefab replacement bridge, and to sign the contract for the trestle demolition. 

Kudos to CM Rocha and Peralez for standing up for reason. 
(CMs Kalra and Herrera were absent, although Herrera had previous expressed support for demotion.). 
The plan is for destruction to begin sometime in June,
assuming the Judge agrees that the City has satisfactorily completed the EIR process

and signs off on the “discharge of the writ”.


Many thanks to the dozens (hundred or more?) friends, community activists, trail supporters,
environmentalists, historians, and neighbors who came out to support the preservation of our piece of local history.
While the results were disappointing, it was still a moving sight to see the see of orange signs in support of the trestle!
(I'm just sorry I didn't print more of them -- I think we ran out!)  It was a truly amazing evening!


To quote Jessica Mitford, "You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty."

(On the other hand, another "famous philosopher", Yogi Berra, said: "It ain't over till it's over." …)


Many thanks for all your support! 


~Larry Ames





Guest editorial: “Larry Ames and Joe Horwedel: Trestle decision will speak to San Jose's character” (5/13/15)

Mercury News editorial: “Willow Glen Trestle should be saved” (5/19/15)

Report of outcome: “Willow Glen trestle: San Jose City Council votes for razing despite residents' pleas” (5/21/15)

Follow-up article: “Pizarro: Willow Glen Trestle advocates lose two-year battle to save bridge over Los Gatos Creek” (5/22/15)


On Tuesday, May 19th, at 1:30 in the afternoon,

The Mayor and Councilmembers considered 3 items and decided the fate of the Trestle:

  they didn’t agree with the Landmarks Commission that it is historic;

  they agreed with Staff that a prefab bridge is preferred; and

  they signed the contract to demolish the Trestle.


video of May 19th SJ Council meeting w/ final vote on WG Trestle


with 37 speakers, 30 of them for the trestle.  (LLA’s talk is at time=3:25:40)



Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) discussion May 6 regarding WG Trestle nomination for recognition:



A bittersweet & confusing epilog:
at the San José Parks Foundation Summer Soiree, 6/25/15,

Honors and awards from SJPF, Council, Mayor, and County.



Thursday, May 14, 7 PM, Jean Dresden gave a free talk at the WG Library:
Willow Glen's Railroad Wars


Ever wondered about the history of the train routes through Willow Glen? Curious about their role in the founding the city of Willow Glen? Here's a talk just for you.


The Willow Glen railroad story is full of intrigue and conniving, lives disrupted, and grassroot organizing. Hear about the big players and the local residents. Learn about the Western Pacific Beltline and the two different Southern Pacific mainline alignments. Gain a sense of Willow Glen when the Prune was King and railroads made or broke a community's economy.  The railroad conflict ultimately ran all the way to the Supreme Court and helped create the aura that makes Willow Glen. Whether you're a long-time resident or a newcomer, you'll enjoy this visit to the past.


Your presenter will be Jean Dresden, a San Jose native and history researcher well-known for her dynamic presentation style.




  link to article on SJ Historic Landmark Commission

  link to “Amendment to the Draft Environmental Impact Report”

>> Sign the Petition to Save the Trestle! <<



Q: To connect the Los Gatos Creek and
the Three Creeks Trails in Willow Glen,
would you prefer a new prefab steel bridge…


…or would a preserved and restored historic wooden train trestle be more interesting?



Official documentation:

·       Initial Draft EIR, Jan 2015

·       Appendices, Jan 2015

·       Amendment (Public Comment & Revised Historic Report), 4/25/15


Comments to Initial Draft EIR were due by March 13th, 2015. 

Here are some of those that were submitted:

·         Calif. Office of Historic Preservation

·         County Supervisor David Cortese

·         Preservation Action Council (PAC*SJ)

·         Calif. Trolley & Railroad Corp.

·         Jim Carter (SJ Deputy Fire Chief, retired)

·         Larry Ames

·         Jean Dresden: structures, persons, and more history

·         Susan Landry

·         Tom Layton

·         Heather Lerner


>> Sign the Petition to Save the Trestle! <<

Write a letter!
(>here< is a “sample letter” w/ details and contact info to help you get started…)


YouTube videos:

Valley of Heart's Delight (2-min)

Guided tour of the trestle (12 min)


Learn more:

>Here< are the charts from the March 2, 2015 talk at the WG Library:
an overview of the regional trail network, local history, the stream habitat,
and how it all ties together at the Trestle.



This summer, the Friends of the Willow Glen Trestle won their public-interest lawsuit

challenging the San José’s refusal to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR)

to consider alternatives to demolition of the evocative 1922 Willow Glen Trestle

as part of the Three Creeks Trail.

(Here is our 7/29/14 Press Release, and

here is the official court ruling.)

The City is appealing that decision.
(more information as it develops…)


·         Guest Editorial by L.Ames and B.Grayson in SJ Mercury News 10/17/14

·         Opposing Editorial by T.McMahon and P.Oliverio, 11/5/14

·         Follow-on discussions in the “Letters to the Editor”

·         rebuttal to Councilmember’s statements.


[earlier news: the Preliminary Injunction Press Release, May 28, 2014
and also the Feb. 12, 2014 Press Release initially announcing the suit.]




The City is proceeding with their plans for the replacement bridge,

and have issued a “Notice of Preparation” of the Draft EIR for Three Creeks Trail Pedestrian Bridge Project (file no. PP13-085).

Here are the comments by LLA for the Scoping of the DEIR (Nov. 2014).


In the San Jose Mercury News:

·  guest editorial by L.Ames and B.Grayson, 10/17/14

·  guest editorial in opposition by T.McMahon and P.Oliverio, 11/5/14

·  various Letters to the Editor

·  response to some of the points in the McMahon/Oliverio op-ed


Help save the Willow Glen Trestle!

See it for yourself:

·  take a YouTube tour!

·  look at the Overview chart-set

·  contact us.




Thank you, Richard and Deborah, for the fund-raiser of Feb. 22, 2014, to help save the trestle!
If you missed the event but still would like to help, you can! <link>


the “Initial Study and draft Mitigated Negative Declaration” (IS/MND)

officially explains how the Trestle it to be demolished, and what will replace it.

Notice of Intent and Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration

Initial Study


the City is basing the “non historic” statement on this "short-form" 2004 report by Ward Hill;
and this State report based on it, and this Federal report based on that,
while ignoring all of the more recently uncovered and more interesting facts:


·        LLA comments to the IS/MND (12/19/13)

·        SJ Staff report & recommendations on IS/MND, based solely on comments received thru 12/16/13

·        LLA letter to Council re: IS/MND, w/ history updates (1/7/14)

·        Collection of letters to SJ re: IS/MND

·        SBH letter to Council re: IS/MND (1/14/14)

·        LLA comments to Council 1/14/14

·        video of Council Meeting 1/14/14, agenda item 4.6

·        LLA status update 1/22/14




please follow us on our Facebook page for latest updates:
“Friends of WG Trestle”




Here’s the latest chart-set (9/9/13) showing the City’s plans for a replacement bridge.


And here’s an illustration of how the trestle could be restored
and made into an iconic gateway to Willow Glen:


(click here for full view)

(Thnx, Jim Ammon!)


And a heartfelt thanks to all of you who wrote to support the trestle!

Over 120 emails were sent to the Council and others!

Many included poetic and profound comments

on the sense of history, the sense of place, and the joy of living in Willow Glen
(click >here< for collection of comments, >here< for an essay by Richard Nieset,

>here< for letter of support from Rod Diridon Sr. et al at CTRC – train advocates).


You have inspired us to continue the effort to save the trestle!


>> Next steps <<


If you’d like to help financially, the San José Parks Foundation
has set up a fund to help with trestle preservation and restoration.


click >here< for photo album of trestle thru the years

 trestle-tn  WGTrestle_4-18-13-tn


Here is a map and aerial view showing its location,
“hidden in plain sight” just blocks from the heart of Willow Glen!

  trestle_map    trestle location-tn   


The City’s own Engineering Study says
the trestle is sturdy and readily adaptable to trail use.


See for yourself: take a YouTube tour!

Follow us on Facebook


Read the Editorials in the SJ Mercury News

by L. Ames & H. Chapman (5/8/13), and

by SJMN Editor Barbara Marshman (5/10/13)



Contact us if you would like additional information

Thank you!




Supporting material:

*  city agenda item 5.1, resolution, and staff report to remove the trestle, 3/26/13  [Resolution doesn’t mention the trestle; Agenda only says “Increase …Trestle Bridge appropriation…”]

*  my letter to Council in support of the trestle (sent via email 3/24/13), and Mayor’s acknowledgment of receipt 3/25/13, 8:30 AM.

*  city agenda item 2.17 to fund the trestle removal, 4/9/13

*  my 2-minute talk opposing the removal funding (written transcript and video)

*  the Engineering Study commissioned by the City.  The study describes the trestle repair in detail, but recommends the steel bridge based solely on a (somewhat faulty) trade matrix and without any consideration of public sentiment or historic value

*  an evaluation of the Engineering Study and point-by-point rebuttal by L. Ames, a professional aerospace engineer

*  and a YouTube video tour of the trestle from all sides by Dan and Helen Chapman


*  representative diagram of trestle repairs (“bent 7”)

*  diagram showing height of 100-year flood (“waist-deep”)

*  diagram of 100-year flood zones in Willow Glen


*  cover letter and 2004 IS/MND (Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration) for LG Crk Trail Reach 4 (Auzerais to Coe, including trail atop an undisturbed trestle)


*  notes by J. Dresden on creosote timbers in creeks, and hazards involved in removing them (5/4/13)

*  city memo on shift of BART alignment due to creosote bridge pilings (11/13/07)

*  memo by Councilmember Liccardo on hazards of disturbing creosote pilings (11/30/07)

*  properties of creosote


*  memo from Councilmember Oliverio asking for a Council study session (5/9/13)

*  Editorial in San José Mercury News by L. Ames & H. Chapman (5/8/13)

*  Editorial in San José Mercury News by SJMN Editor Barbara Marshman (5/10/13)


*  memo from City (Parks PRNS and Dept of Public Works) 5/17/13

*  comments by L. Ames in response to City memo 5/30/13

*  link to video of NBC-11 segment on trestle, featuring Councilmember Oliverio and WGNA’s Zappelli


*  notes to the eList, 4/17/13

*  notes to the eList, 4/20/13

*  notes to the eList, 5/12/13

*  notes to the eList, 5/15/13



*  link to City’s presentation on trestle replacement 7/9/13 & 7/17/13

*  notes and observations on City’s presentation to Save Our Trails, 7/9/13

*  notes and observations on City’s presentation to WGNA, 7/17/13


*  letter of support from Rod Diridon Sr., David Ginsborg, and the Calif. Trolley & Rail. Corp, 7/16/13

*  editorial in the SJ Merc. News 7/16/13


*  Council agenda item 2/22/11 to apply for SCVWD grant for restoration of trestle


*  other sites along the Los Gatos Creek that need a bridge (LLA, 7/24/13)

*  supporting material: Los Gatos Crk Trail Master Plan 1985 p.24, p.24/25, and p.25 -- see text on p. 25

*  supporting material: Guadalupe River Park Master Plan, Dec 2001, sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. 
            At Confluence Point (chart2), bridge #29 is built, but #31 is needed.

*  diagram of Confluence Point


*  LLA letter to SJ Council 8/8/13

*  LLA talk to SJ Council 8/13/13

*  video and transcript of "approval of Rule Cmte Minutes" 8/13/13

[Councilmember Oliverio made a 19-minute video of his comments from the dais wherein he repeatedly complains out “those individuals” 8 times and singles out “Mr. Ames” by name six times.  This video was prominently featured on the official Dist. 6 city webpage for the following several years, up until he was termed out from office at the end of 2016.]


*  letter of support from VPA

*  letter of support from CGF

*  letter of support from NWGNA


*  possible concept for completing the Los Gatos Creek Trail from Meridian to Lincoln.


*  Sept. 9th presentation on replacement bridge


*  letter from Campbell Historic Preservation Boardmember S. Blake 6/9/13

*  letter from the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Cmsn, 9/19/13


*  Presentation to the San José Historic Landmarks Cmsn 11/6/13

*  Official Synopsis of HLC mtg 11/6/13


The Three Creeks Trail, Lonus to Minnesota (including the Trestle?):

*  City of SJ's Initial Study & Mitigated Neg. Declaration, 3/11/14

*  LLA's first set of comments, 3/12/14

*  Comment period extended and publicly announced, 3/28/14

*  LLA's second set of comments, 4/8/14


Official memos for May 19, 2015 Council action:

·         Agenda item 4.7: staff recommendation against recognizing historic landmark status: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43714

·         Info from HLC in support of granting status: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43713

·         resolution to rescind prior contract: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43479

·         certifying CEQA for demolition of WG Trestle and new prefab bridge: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43480

·         recommendations for Agenda 4.5: Memo by Matt Cano on why trestle should be demolished: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43676

·         Don Rocha's compromise WG Trestle blue memo: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43872


*  “Item not on the Agenda” talk before SC Co. HLUET Cmte, 5/21/15

*  Los Gatos Creek: “River Walk -- San José Style”: River Walk paper (4/21/15) and tour map (6/6/15)

*  Superior Court order 6/22/15 denying the City's request to demolish the trestle

*  City Petition & Appendices to Appellate Court, and Court Order 7/9/15

*  Friends request for a Stay, 7/30/15

*  City notice to Appellate Court 8/4/15

*  update to-date, 8/4/15

*  LLA on KLIV, 8/5/14


*  Recognition & Awards at the SJ Parks Foundation Summer Soiree, 6/25/15


Councilmember Oliverio’s Aug. 20, 2015, post on NextDoor:

“continued litigation regarding a dilapidated chemical soaked trestle bridge … puts $3 million in the District 6 parks budget at risk which means … the trail connection remains closed and future park projects are in jeopardy.”

Please see response (8/26/15)


*  LLA invited to give presentation at WG Kiwanis luncheon, 7/11/16


*  Remand Court Case Feb 3, 2017:  our initial brief; City’s “Memorandum of Points and Authorities”; our Reply Brief; our response to the City’s objection to our list of relevant documents; and our “request to notice



last update 4/20/17