Early San Jose Stations:
San Pedro St. (ex-SF&SJ RR)
Market Street ("Broad Gauge Depot")

SP San Jose

SP Index

San Jose's first passenger station was an enigmatic one: When the San Francisco & San Jose Railroad completed its line between the two cities, the railroad held ceremonies at what the SP Bulletin (#73) described as the new brick station on San Pedro Street in San Jose, but Wx4 staff has never seen photographic record of this structure.

The next San Pedro Street station, construction date unknown to Wx4, was a board-and-batton affair constructed by either SF&SJ or SP. This structure, with subsequent amendments, surved until about 1889, when SP built a new depot, complete with a two track covered train shed. Since by then the South Pacific Coast narrow gauge was already an established presence in town, the new Market Street depot was known locally as the "Broad Gauge Depot".

After SPC completed the broad gauging of its line in January, 1908 the former narrow gauge San Jose stop became West San Jose, serving the Santa Cruz and Los Altos lines, while the Market Street depot continued on as before, minus the Broad Gauge pseudonym. In a bit of historic irony, SPC planned to make the narrow-to-standard-gauge change on its entire Alameda to Santa Cruz line on one day, April 18, 1906. Crews (including a local icon, Engineer Billy Jones) were just beginning their tasks when the Great Earthquake struck, laying waste to the SPC's line through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Market Street depot continued to host trains until the last day of 1935, when SP's substantial new Cahill Street depot opened at the location of the old narrow gauge station. The occasion marked the completion of a project that removed SP trains from Fourth Street in favor of a 13.4 mile end run around San Jose through a corner of Willow Glen. Festivities on December 30 included a cermonial run from old to new pulled by SP 4-6-2 #2467, which currently (2006) resides in operating condition on the Niles Canyon Railway. The story of the line change is an amusing one and can be found on a separate page, The Octopus Relocates to West San Jose.

Today, the Cahill Street is known as Diridon Station, in honor of the ex-Santa Clara County supervisor who was the leading force in both the formation of Caltrain and the VTA light rail system. Wx4 has extensive coverage of Cahill Street in its SP years.

Southern Pacific demolished the Market Street depot and shed shortly after its closure, but in another bit of historical irony, its board-and-batton San Pedro Street predecessor remained in service for another three-plus decades as the San Pedro & Basset Streets freight station. If we recall correctly, the station closed in about 1969, and burned to the ground a few years later. Several other similar-in-vintage-and-construction warehouse (presumably still owned by SP) likewise continued in use by non-railroad companies until about the same time.

The San Pedro structure was gone in December 1975, when the American Freedom Train set up temporary shop on the former depot tracks. The next year a touring Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson steam locomotive and train also sat on display there. Much of the Market Street trackage remained, largely unused, until nearby College Park Yard closed in the mid-1980's. After that, the rails disappeared in bits and pieces.

(above) east side of the Market Street "Broad Gauge Depot" The steamer appears to be an SP class A-3 4-4-2, which were constructed between 1904 and 1908, so if this postcard is labeled truthfully, it dates from one of those years, since the SPC's "Narrow Gauge Depot" lost that status in January, 1908. The train may be headed for Oakland via Milpitas, but the fancy new power and all of those headend cars indicate that the consist is headed for Los Angeles on SP's newly (1901) completed Coast Route. (below) the entire San Pedro Street / Market Street complex, looking northeast, as seen from a baloon in 1906 The giant San Pedro Street structure, with its peculiar double-peak upper story, sits in the middle, with the newer Market Street station / shed at right. San Jose's original freight yard appears at left center - notice what appears to be a yardmaster's tower at extreme left. When the yard migrated westward over Guadalupe Creek , we are unsure. While switching College Park Yard in the 1970's Wx4 staff discovered date nails from the 'teens, so certainly by then.

(below) Looking in the exact opposite direction from the above, we see an artist's redition of the area in this portion of a 1901 N.J. Stone and Co. map promoting San Jose. While simplified, it gives a clear understanding of the reletionship between the various San Jose depots. Market Street is easily identifiable at bottom center by its bright red shed roof, while its (green) predecessor sits - missing one of its signature gables) across San Pedro Street to the right. Way up in the right hand corner, just below the large red brick cannery, you'll find the Narrow Gauge Depot, with a train headed for Los Gatos. College Park Yard and the joint SP/SPC Lenzen Avenue roundhouse sadly are not included in the original map. You can find full Mr.Sid foremat images of this map and the aerial photo at the Library of Congress American Memory map collection.

(below) If only we had known...Blissfully unaware of the historical significance of the background structure, Wx4 staff instead concentrated on the train, powered by SD-45 8868 and GP-9 3475, with Fairbanks-Morse Train Master 3029 along for the ride, dead in multiple. By this Spring 1970 date, locomotives in Black Widow paint, as the 3475, were becoming a rarety, and the FM's (here probably headed for shop work in Sacramento) gnerally had not powered freights for several years. This is one of only two Wx4 photos that show a portion of the San Pedro Street station. Note the concrete firewall between sections. The spring switch in the foreground joined the east (photo left) and west legs of the College Park Wye.