Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park, in the Alum Rock district of San Jose, California, is California's oldest municipal park, founded in 1872. Located in a valley in the Diablo Range foothills on the east side of San Jose, the 720 acre (2.9 km2) park offers 13 miles (21 km) of trails, varying from fairly level along Penitencia Creek to sharp switchbacks climbing to the ridges to the South Rim Trail and the North Rim Trail. The narrow floor of the valley includes a visitor center, a small museum/animal rehab facility, picnic areas, playgrounds, lawns, sand volleyball pits, mineral springs, lush plant life, woodlands, creek play opportunities, and occasional group camping.

The ridge trails offer views of Santa Clara Valley and of the valley in which the park is located. Some trails in the park are a part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail; the Todd Quick trail connects with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority's 1,600-acre Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.

Equestrians and mountain bikers have access to some of the park's trails, while others are reserved for hikers only. Cross-country teams from high schools around North San Jose, such as James Lick High School and Independence High, use the park for training and for meets.

Alum Rock Park
AlumRockViewSiliconValley w
View of northern Silicon Valley from South Rim Trail
TypeUrban park
LocationSan Jose, California
Coordinates37°23′52″N 121°47′59″W / 37.3977168°N 121.7996751°W[1]
Area2.9 km2 (1.1 sq mi)
Operated byCity of San Jose
StatusOpen except non-holiday Mondays
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Classic carved trail sign



Alum Rock Park was originally known simply as "the reservation"; it received its current name around the turn of the 20th century when thenardite-containing rocks near its entrance were mistaken for alum.[2] Another black rock with an estimated weight of two thousand tons near the mouth of Penitencia Creek canyon was supposed to be one of the largest meteorites in the world.[3]

Penitencia Creek is properly called Upper Penitencia Creek because it no longer connects with Lower Penitencia Creek, which is in Milpitas. The creek also had a different name until the early 20th century; somehow it began to be called by the name of a different creek located to the north, which was so-named because monks (possibly from Mission San José) would meditate by its waters.

San Jose & Alum Rock Park Railway

Alum Rock Bridge
Historic Alum Rock Bridge used by the interurban park railway from 1913 to 1932

Construction of a narrow-gauge railway to the park from downtown San Jose began in 1891. By 1896, 8 miles (13 km) of track had been completed from 26th Street up Santa Clara and Alum Rock Avenues to Kirk Avenue and thence upstream along Penitencia Creek into the park. Passengers paid 25 cents to ride to the park on street cars pulled by steam dummy locomotives. The line converted to electric power in 1901, but a storm during the winter of 1911 washed out the narrow-gauge line up Penitencia Creek. The narrow-gauge route was replaced on 2 September 1913 by the standard gauge interurban Peninsular Railway running up Berryessa Road from a connection with the downtown streetcars on 17th Street. Passengers could reach the park from any point on the San Jose streetcar system until service into the park was abandoned on 11 July 1932.[4]


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The park in the fall

From 1921 until unknown, the Santa Clara County Council of the Boy Scouts of America was given exclusive access to 15 acres (61,000 m2) in the park. By the 1960s, the park attracted so many visitors from the rapidly growing Santa Clara Valley that its facilities became overburdened and the natural scenery was damaged. In the 1970s, the park removed most of the buildings, closed off parts of the park, and began emphasizing the park's natural attractions rather than its man-made ones. Much of the stonework remains, however, as do old support structures for the railroad.

Natural disasters

El Niño winter storms of February 1998 caused dozens of landslides which precipitated the complete closing of the park for nearly six months. The aftermath of several of these slides resulted in the closure of the original Alum Rock Avenue entrance in the autumn of 2000; access is currently available only from Penitencia Creek Road.

On October 30, 2007, the 2007 Alum Rock earthquake, a 5.6 earthquake, hit the Bay Area at 8:04 pm Pacific time. It was centered 5 miles (8.0 km) NNE of Alum Rock and at a depth of 5.7 miles (9.2 km). The Hayward Fault and Calaveras Fault converge close to Alum Rock Park. One effect of the earthquake was to cause a previously dried spring to begin flowing again.

On February 20, 2017, heavy rain storms caused fallen trees, landslides and flooding resulting in the park to close.[5]



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Grotto stonework around one of many mineral springs

The valley has abundant mineral springs, which were touted as beneficial to people's health. In the late 19th century and through the 1930s, the park was famed throughout the country as a health resort advertising hot and cold sulfur, soda and magnesia springs, as well as mixtures of sulfur, soda, magnesia, arsenic, iron, and their sulfates. Plumbing routed some of these springs into bathtubs or drinking fountains. A very early 20th century advertising brochure listing the names of eleven physicians suggested: "...a remarkable spring furnishing a mixture of sulphur, magnesia, and arsenic, which has been found very beneficial in cases of rheumatism, Bright's disease, and other kidney and stomach troubles and malarial affections." Through those years and as late as the 1970s, the park featured a natatorium (a huge, indoor swimming pool filled with heated sulfur water), dozens of private heated mineral baths that visitors could rent, a restaurant, and various other buildings.[3] Many of the springs were enclosed in stonework grottos, and stone bridges were built across the creek. Due to overuse, some of the springs became extinct, and surviving ones became very weak, producing very little output.


Private residents have access to the road. They enter the park and continue on to the rear parking lot. At the end of the parking lot is a metal gate which requires a security code number to enter. Visitors can also walk up the road, but there are various signs which indicate no trespassing.

Fork in the creek

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One of several bridges over Penitencia Creek

Penitencia Creek has two main sources which converge at the "horse bridge" near the uphill end of the creek trail. The fork from the north is Penitencia and originates from Cherry Flat Reservoir. The creek from the south is Arroyo Aguague and originates in Grant Ranch. Although a couple miles of the creek are within the park, this area is off limits to visitors.

Youth Science Institute

Opened in 1953, the Youth Science Institute - Alum Rock Science and Nature Center, operated by the Youth Science Institute, features natural history exhibits and a collection of live teaching animals, including several injured and non-releasable hawks and owls that are found in the region. The center offers nature and science school and group programs, after-school science and summer camp programs.[6]

Animals that are commonly found throughout the park are displayed in the center. There is an exhibit of taxidermy birds that is sectioned off into owls, hawks, seabirds, and waterfowl. Animal remains are set up throughout the center and labeled accordingly. There is a separate room for live animals that are kept in their designated space along with a brief description of each animal. Occasionally, there is a pair of owls that roam free within the room. The staff is helpful and willing to answer any questions as well as provide you with a tour once the appropriate admission fee is paid. Brochures and information packets of plants and animals found in Alum Rock Park are available at the front desk.


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Black-tailed deer in Alum Rock Park


The steep sides of the valley are home to many diverse plants native to California. The south-facing slopes primarily consist of grasses, poison oak, sagebrush, and occasional live oak trees. The warm sun on the sagebrush lends a unique smell to the air.

The north-facing slopes are dominated by trees, including coast live oak, California bay laurel, madrone, and California buckeye. On the valley floor, in the moist areas along Penitencia Creek, bigleaf maple, white alder, and western sycamore provide shade for the abundant ferns.

The most common native species of the park include California fuchsia, California wild rose, black sage, hummingbird sage, and blackberry. Problematic invasive species are star thistle, cape ivy, and periwinkle vinca.


Several larger varieties of birds frequent the park, including the red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, Cooper's hawk, kestrel, turkey vulture, wild turkey, mallard, great blue heron, green heron, Steller's jay, great egret, snowy egret, and California quail. Owls that are native to the park are the western screech owl, barn owl, great horned owl, and northern pygmy owl. The northern pygmy owl unlike most owl species is active from dawn to dusk. Larger wildlife includes black-tailed deer, gray foxes, bobcats, and the occasional cougar (mountain lions). There has been an increase in the mountain lion population in the San Francisco Bay Area. Smaller wildlife would include the darkling beetle, Eurypelma californicum (tarantula), black widow, and Pacific tree frog. Two species of lizards that are native to the park are southern alligator lizard and western fence lizard. Native fish that can be found in Penetencia Creek are the California roach and riffle sculpin.

Rattlesnakes (specifically, the northern Pacific rattlesnake: Crotalus oreganus) are known to be active during the summer months. They can occasionally be seen shading themselves in the foliage along the trails. Other snakes that are native to the park include the California kingsnake, California mountain kingsnake, Rosy boa, Pacific gopher snake, and Western yellow-bellied racer, all are harmless, nonvenomous and can also be found along the trails.


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Alum Rock Park
  2. ^ Gudde, Erwin; William Bright (2004). California Place Names (Fourth ed.). University of California Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-520-24217-3.
  3. ^ a b Guido, Francis A. (1970). Narrow Gauge Streetcars of San Jose, California. The Western Railroader.
  4. ^ Brandt, Randolph (1958). "San Jose & Alum Rock Park". The Western Railroader. Francis A. Guido. 21 (219): 1–11.
  5. ^ "San Jose, CA - Official Website - Park & Trail Flood Updates". San Jose. March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "Alum Rock Science and Nature Center". Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-11-16.


2007 Alum Rock earthquake

The 2007 Alum Rock earthquake occurred on October 30 at 8:04 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time in Alum Rock Park in San Jose, California. It measured 5.6 on the moment magnitude scale and had a maximum Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong). The event was then the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale, but was later surpassed by the 2014 South Napa earthquake. Ground shaking from the Alum Rock quake reached San Francisco and Oakland and other points further north. Sixty thousand felt reports existed far beyond Santa Rosa, as far north as Eugene, Oregon.

Alum Rock

Alum Rock may refer to:

Alum rock, specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds.

Alum Rock, California, United States, formerly a town, now a neighborhood of San Jose, California

Alum Rock Park in San Jose, California

Alum Rock, Birmingham, an area in the United Kingdom, two miles east of Birmingham's city centre

Alum Rock, San Jose

Alum Rock () is a neighborhood and census-designated place in San Jose, California, in East San Jose. The CDP, which excludes all annexed areas, had a population of 15,536 at the 2010 census. It is home to Alum Rock Park, the oldest municipal park in California and one of the largest in the United States.

Formerly a separate town, much of the community is unincorporated surrounded by incorporated San Jose; neighborhoods between White Road and Capitol Avenue are part of a city/county agreement for annexation. James Lick High School, Mt. Pleasant High School, and William C. Overfelt High School (which are part of the East Side Union High School District), Joseph George Middle School, Ocala Middle School, and other schools in the Alum Rock Union School District serve the neighborhood. Near the center of the community is a small neighborhood commercial strip along Alum Rock Avenue at White Road.

Arrow Dynamics

Arrow Dynamics was an American manufacturing and engineering company that specialized in designing and building amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. Based in Clearfield, Utah, the company was the successor to Arrow Development (1946–1981) and Arrow Huss (1981–1986), which were responsible for several influential advancements in the amusement and theme park industries. Among the most significant was tubular steel track, which provided a smoother ride than the railroad style rails commonly used prior to the 1960s on wooden roller coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland was Arrow's first foray into roller coasters, in 1959.

In 1975, Arrow Development introduced the first corkscrew style track Corkscrew, at Knott's Berry Farm that sent riders through a series of barrel rolls. Arrow created several other "firsts" over the years, introducing the first suspended roller coaster in almost a century, The Bat, in 1981, and the world's first "hypercoaster", Magnum XL-200, which opened in 1989. They built the first 4th Dimension roller coaster, X2, which was designed by Alan Schilke in 2002.

Arrow Development's ownership changed three times between the 1950s and 1980s. Arrow Dynamics would eventually survive two bankruptcies and spin off a sister company, Fabriweld, primarily to build track, by 1988. Arrow Dynamics eventually closed on December 3, 2001. S&S Worldwide purchased part of Arrow's remaining assets on October 28, 2002, and the remainder of the company was dissolved. In 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co. of Osaka, Japan, acquired a 77.3% interest in S&S - Arrow.

Bay Area Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail (Ridge Trail) is a planned 550-mile (890 km) multi-use trail (currently over 365 miles are complete) along the hill and mountain ridgelines ringing the San Francisco Bay Area, in Northern California. When complete, the trail will connect over 75 parks and open spaces. The trail is being designed to provide access for hikers, runners, mountain bicyclists, and equestrians. It will be accessible through trailheads near major population centers, while the trail will extend into more remote areas. The first trail section was dedicated on May 13, 1989.

Diablo Range

The Diablo Range is a mountain range in the California Coast Ranges subdivision of the Pacific Coast Ranges. It is located in the eastern San Francisco Bay area south to the Salinas Valley area of northern California, the United States.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library (also known locally as the MLK Library) is a 136-foot (41 m) tall public library and university library, located in downtown San Jose, California, which had its grand opening on August 16, 2003. As of 2018, it is the largest library building in the western United States built in a single construction project, with over 475,000 square feet (44,000 m²) of space on eight floors and approximately 1.6 million volumes. The King Library is a collaboration between the City of San José and San José State University: it is the main library for both San José State University and the San José Public Library system. In 2004 it was honored as Library of the Year by Library Journal and Thompson Gale, for its collaborative combination of the two functions as well as for the building. On its tenth anniversary in 2013 it was still the largest joint university-municipal library in the United States.The Library building can accommodate over 2000 visitors.

East San Jose

East San Jose (or East Valley or The Eastside) is the eastern region of San Jose, California in Silicon Valley, comprising several neighborhoods and including a former city of that name. The area is bounded roughly by Berryessa Rd to the north, Mount Hamilton toward the east, Highway 101 and portions of Yerba Buena Rd and Silver Creek Valley Rd towards the south, and Highway 101 to the west.

East Side San Jose

East Side San Jose is the debut album by American guitarist and keyboardist Clifford Coulter recorded in 1970 for the Impulse! label. The album title refers to East San Jose, California, with the cover art showing a scene from the district.

List of earthquakes in 2007

Earthquakes in 2007 resulted in about 712 fatalities. The 2007 Peru earthquake was the deadliest with 519 fatalities. The September 2007 Sumatra earthquake was the largest in 2007 with an 8.5 on the moment magnitude scale. The 2007 Solomon Islands earthquake caused a significant tsunami that killed 52 people. There were four 8.0 or higher earthquakes in 2007 which is the most ever recorded for a single year. Other significant earthquakes in 2007 struck Chile and Japan.

List of tourist attractions in Silicon Valley

This is a list of tourist attractions in and around Silicon Valley, it includes parts or most of Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Alameda County.

Northern California

Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's northernmost 48 counties its main population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area (anchored by the cities of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland), the Greater Sacramento area (anchored by the state capital Sacramento), and the Metropolitan Fresno area (anchored by the city of Fresno). Northern California also contains redwood forests, along with the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta (the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range after Mount Rainier in Washington), and most of the Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.

The 48-county definition is not used for the Northern California Megaregion, one of the 11 megaregions of the United States. The megaregion's area is instead defined from Metropolitan Fresno north to Greater Sacramento, and from the Bay Area east across Nevada state line to encompass the entire Lake Tahoe-Reno area.Native Americans arrived in northern California at least as early as 8,000 to 5,000 BC and perhaps even much earlier, and successive waves of arrivals led to one of the most densely populated areas of pre-Columbian North America. The arrival of European explorers from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries did not establish European settlements in northern California. In 1770, the Spanish mission at Monterey was the first European settlement in the area, followed by other missions along the coast—eventually extending as far north as Sonoma County.

Peninsular Railway (California)

The Peninsular Railway (known to locals as the Pin) was an interurban electrified railway in the U.S. State of California in the United States of America. It served the area between San Jose, Los Gatos, and Palo Alto, comprising much of what is today known as "Silicon Valley". For much of its existence it was a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Penitencia Creek

Upper Penitencia Creek is actually one of two creeks by the name Penitencia Creek in the northeastern Santa Clara Valley of Santa Clara County, California. They are both tributaries of Coyote Creek. The upper creek was diverted southwestward, connecting it directly to Coyote Creek ca. 1850 by a farmer to irrigate his fields, permanently splitting Upper Penitencia Creek from Lower Penitencia Creek. Upper Penitencia Creek drains the western slopes of Mount Hamilton of the Diablo Range, and passes through Alum Rock Park, before ending at its confluence with Coyote Creek at Berryessa Road. In December 2018, the San Francisco Estuary Institute published a report commissioned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District to establish a vision for Upper Penitencia Creek's lower four miles focusing on ways "to expand flow conveyance and flood water storage from the Coyote Creek confluence upstream to the Dorel Drive bridge in a manner that works with the existing landscape features and supports habitats for native species".Lower Penitencia Creek flows along the historic Mission Road between Mission Santa Clara and Mission San Jose. It runs through the city of Milpitas before receiving flows from Berryessa Creek, Piedmont Creek, Arroyo de los Coches, Tularcitos Creek and Calera Creek before entering Coyote Creek near Dixon Landing Road at the southern end of San Francisco Bay.

San Jose, California

San Jose (; Spanish for 'Saint Joseph'; Spanish: [saŋ xoˈse]), officially the City of San José, is the economic, cultural and political center of Silicon Valley, and the largest city in Northern California (both by population and area). With an estimated 2017 population of 1,035,317, it is the third-most populous city in California (after Los Angeles and San Diego) and the tenth-most populous in United States. Located in the center of the Santa Clara Valley, on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay, San Jose covers an area of 179.97 square miles (466.1 km2). San Jose is the county seat of Santa Clara County, the most affluent county in California and one of the most affluent counties in the United States. San Jose is the most populous city in both the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area, which contain 7.7 million and 8.7 million people respectively.San Jose is a global city, notable as a center of innovation, for its affluence, Mediterranean climate, and extremely high cost of living. San Jose's location within the booming high tech industry, as a cultural, political, and economic center has earned the city the nickname "Capital of Silicon Valley". San Jose is one of the wealthiest major cities in the United States and the world, and has the third highest GDP per capita in the world (after Zürich, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway), according to the Brookings Institution. The San Jose Metropolitan Area has the most millionaires and the most billionaires in the United States per capita. With a median home price of $1,085,000, San Jose has the most expensive housing market in the country and the fifth most expensive housing market in the world, according to the 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. Major global tech companies including Cisco Systems, eBay, Adobe Systems, PayPal, Brocade, Samsung, Acer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Western Digital maintain their headquarters in San Jose, in the center of Silicon Valley.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area around San Jose was inhabited by the Tamien nation of the Ohlone peoples of California. San Jose was founded on November 29, 1777, as the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, the first city founded in the Californias. It then became a part of Mexico in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. Following the American Conquest of California during the Mexican–American War, the territory was ceded to the United States in 1848. After California achieved statehood two years later, San Jose became the state's first capital. Following World War II, San Jose experienced an economic boom, with a rapid population growth and aggressive annexation of nearby cities and communities carried out in the 1950s and 1960s. The rapid growth of the high-technology and electronics industries further accelerated the transition from an agricultural center to an urbanized metropolitan area. Results of the 1990 U.S. Census indicated that San Jose had officially surpassed San Francisco as the most populous city in Northern California. By the 1990s, San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley had become the global center for the high tech and internet industries, making it California's fastest-growing economy.

Santa Clara Valley

The Santa Clara Valley runs south-southeast from the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. The northern, urbanized end of the valley is part of a region locally known as the "South Bay" and also part of the electronics, research, and technology area known as Silicon Valley. Santa Clara Valley consists of most of Santa Clara County, including its county seat, San Jose, as well as a small portion of San Benito County. The valley, named after the Spanish Mission Santa Clara, was for a time known as the Valley of Heart's Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit producing and packing region in the world with 39 canneries.

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council (#055), the result of a council merger between the Santa Clara County Council and the Monterey Bay Area Council, is a Boy Scouts of America council headquartered in San Jose, California. In 2004, the previous two councils served over 11,000 youth in over 400 Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, Venturing crews, and Explorer posts. In 2012, the Monterey Bay Area Council announced that after 89 years as a separate council, it had agreed to merge back into the Santa Clara County Council. As of 2013, the council served 13,000 youth in four different counties.

The Choral Project

Based in San Jose, California, The Choral Project is a mixed-voice choir founded in 1996 by artistic director and conductor Daniel D. Hughes. The group's vision is "to heal our world through music and words," while their mission is "to connect to one another through choral theater, education and musical excellence."

The Choral Project's repertoire is broad and diverse, ranging from Bach, Debussy, and Brahms to modern composers like Kirke Mechem, Rene Clausen, Michael Ostrzyga, Stephen Jackson and Eric Whitacre. They have performed in Washington D.C.'s National Cathedral, San Francisco's Mission Dolores Basilica, Mission Santa Clara de Asís, Santa Cruz' Holy Cross Church, and multiple venues in England, Scotland, Wales, Costa Rica, and Mexico. During their 2001 tour, The Choral Project appeared live on Mexican National Radio. In 2004, the ensemble competed in the Mixed Choir division of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, coming away with a second-place finish. In 2007, while competing against six choirs from around the world at the California International Choral Festival & Competition in San Luis Obispo, CA, the group placed in all three categories - 1st place in the Choir's Choice category, 2nd place in the Required Music category and 3rd in the Folk Music category.

Every season, The Choral Project uses one concert to focus on an important social issue. For example, in February 2017 the choir performed Street Requiem with mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade to highlight the issue of homelessness. The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote, "The piece, said the 53-voice Choral Project’s artistic director Daniel Hughes, addresses issues of what it’s like to live on the streets and assumes the voice of the homeless in confronting the audience, 'Why do you ignore me when you leave the concert hall?'”To date, The Choral Project has released eight albums: The Cycle of Life, Of Christmastide, Americana, Water & Light (the group’s #1 best seller on the Clarion label), Winter, One is the All, Tell the World, and most recently Yuletide, a festive collection of holiday favorites.

The Choral Project also performs on the San José Chamber Orchestra recording of the dramatic oratorio Choose Life, Uvacharta Bachayim, by composer Mona Lyn Reese and librettist Delores Dufner, OSB.The Choral Project is also a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization involved in community outreach, including a choral mentorship program for local high school students, joint performances with visiting choirs and an annual Choral Composition Contest for high school students and undergraduates.

Winchester Transit Center

Winchester Transit Center is a light rail station and park-and-ride lot operated by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in Campbell, California. Winchester is the southern terminus of the Mountain View–Winchester light rail line.

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