Early public transportation in San José was primarily done by electric trolleys. Between 1880 and 1940, these streetcars opearated on close to 130 miles of track in the Santa Clara Valley. When automobiles were still too expensive to be widely owned, many San José residents used the trolleys to travel around town.
The Trolley Barn was built in 1984 as a place to house and restore historic trolleys. The Valley Transportation Authority created the San José Trolley Historical Restoration Project in 1982 to restore six vintage streetcars. The restored trolleys are used for public transportation in downtown San José, and the barn, which is built in the style of similar trolley-buildings from the early 1900s, is used to display other historic vehicles.
The tracks that extend from the Trolley Barn run across Kelley Park, and on weekends, park visitors can ride the historic streetcars.
The Trolley Barn and trollies are featured in the Historic Transportation ExperienceSchool Program.