Electric trolleys were the main source of public transportation in San Jose between 1880 and 1938. These streetcars operated on nearly 130 miles of track throughout Santa Clara Valley. Automobiles were too expensive to be widely owned, so many San Jose residents used trolleys to travel around town and into the countryside, with tracks extending as far as Los Gatos, Saratoga, Alum Rock Park and Palo Alto.
The California Trolley and Railroad Corporation began its Historical Restoration Project in 1982 to restore six vintage streetcars. The Trolley Barn was built in 1984 in the style of trolley buildings of the early 1900s as a place to restore and display these streetcars. By 1988 the first restored trolleys were being used for public transportation in downtown San Jose, where they continue to operate today.
Tracks from the barn extend the length of Kelley Park to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, and free streetcar rides are available to the public on weekends.
The Trolley Barn and trolleys are featured in the Historic Transportation Experience School Program.
The Trolley Barn is a joint project with the California Trolley & Railroad Corporation.
View archival images of trolleys operating in Santa Clara Valley from History San José’s Collection.