The saga of the Willow Glen Trestle.


·        Annual Status Report on County Grant Project, 6/11/21

·        SJMN article, “Goodbye, Willow Glen Trestle” (2/6/21) on replacement bridge

·        Examples of trestle reuse



Court rules against our last hope request:

·        Order Denying Application for Temporary Restraining Order

·        Larry Ames: Summary, concluding remarks, and thanks





Previous updates:



On May 18th, the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San José ruled against us.  We are evaluating our next steps.

There’s an article on the subject in the May 22nd edition of the Mercury News.


In other news, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors have awarded us the full $70k grant for researching and documenting the history of the Willow Glen Trestle.



We have applied for a County Historic Grant to research and document the history of the Willow Glen Trestle.

This is a competitive grant, and we hope to find out if we’re successful by this December.

Here’s our grant application.



We are thrilled to report that the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose today granted an injunction called a writ of supersedeas. The writ maintains the status quo and disallows any demolition of the Trestle while our CEQA appeal is pending during the coming year. We hope this will lead to a productive resolution via settlement.







The Willow Glen Trestle still stands, …

but the city is ready to demolish it on a moment’s notice: it has already removed all the trees near the trestle, constructed an access roadway, dammed the channel, and rerouted the creek through a pipe past the site.  (At least the City has finally removed the fallen trees and other debris from the flood of 2017.)


We have filed an appeal (see filing and LLA’s declaration), and have requested that the Willow Glen Trestle not be demolished while our appeal is pending.


And now we wait: the fate of the Trestle is in the hands of the Court of Appeal.


There are no court hearings or oral arguments coming up: after it issued a temporary stay of demolition on July 3 the Court of Appeal ordered additional legal filings (see City’s objection and our reply) and will review those in the coming days.  Sometime in the next couple weeks (perhaps as early as tomorrow) we will learn the decision on the injunction.  If the Court decides to issue the injunction (called supersedeas), the Trestle will not be harmed while the appeal briefs are filed and reviewed and the Court of Appeal issues a ruling.  A date for oral argument will likely be set in 2020.  But if the injunction/supersedeas is denied, the City could start demolition immediately. 


There’s nothing to do now but sit and wait.

Wish us luck!







Well, the Willow Glen Trestle had its court hearing yesterday.


As those of you who attended saw, our lawyer, Susan Brandt-Hawley, patiently explained our case and answered Judge Kuhnle's questions so clearly that even us non-lawyers could understand.


Nonetheless, the Court ruled against us today.  The Court did keep in place the injunction against demolition to give us some time (until Monday July 8) to file an appeal, which we are working on now.


More later.   Wish us luck!







WG Trestle Update 6/12/19:  Good news, times two!


Today two great things happened:


1. The Santa Clara Superior Court today issued a preliminary injunction stopping the City from demolishing the Trestle while our court case is proceeding. Our lawsuit will be heard in Department 5 on June 27 at 9 am. Our position is that because demolition of the Trestle requires the City to take an additional step — to enter into a streamed alteration agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — the City must reopen its environmental review process since the Trestle is now known to be officially historic and if it is demolished there would be a significant environmental impact. If there is a feasible alternative to demolition, the City cannot proceed with demolition. While our court hearing is pending, the City is being allowed to do some preparatory work in the creek as long as it does not harm the Trestle. In today’s ruling granting the injunction, the Court explained its current thinking about our case and so we will be focusing on answering the Court’s concerns at the hearing on June 27. All concerned residents are welcome to attend the hearing.

 P1100841-rs   P1100847-rs   P1100872-rs


2. Also today, the City lost the lawsuit it filed against the State Historical Resources Commission last year in San Francisco! The City sued the State of California to undo the Commission’s listing of the Trestle in the California Register of Historical Resources in 2017. The judgment signed today against the City means that the historic listing will remain intact and final, confirming its historic qualifications that the City has contested for years.


3 cheers for our lawyer extraordinaire, Susan Brandt-Hawley!




The city wants to proceed with the demolition of the Willow Glen Trestle.

We are challenging the issuance of the demolition permit (see brief), and we have a court date set for June 27th.

However, the city is unwilling to wait for the court to hear the matter and it wants to start demolition on June 17th.

Therefore, we are seeking a Preliminary Injunction for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): we have a court date of June 10th.


>> you are invited to witness the process. 

Superior Court, 191 N. First St., Courtroom 5

Monday, June 10th, at 2 PM.

There’s nothing to say or do, but your presence does help show public support.





May 9, 2019: Time for another update on the Willow Glen Trestle!


Yes, it is still standing; and yes, it is still threatened with demolition.

There are two remaining questions:

(1) is it historic?

(2) can the city get permission from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to tear it down even if it is historic?


The answers:


(1) YES it is legally historic.


Over the past several years, the California Historical Resources Commission has repeatedly approved the listing of the Willow Glen Trestle in the California Register of Historical Resources, which conclusively requires its treatment as historic.


The city has tried to undo that listing, but the Commission’s action stands.  The city’s most recent objection was its lawsuit objecting to the Commission’s formal findings made over the objections of the city.  Hearing transcripts show the Commission listened to the city’s objections but nevertheless had strong reasons to recognize the Trestle as historic, but the judge ordered the Commission to formally revise its written findings to show it had in fact fully considered the city’s objections and why it decided to override them.  So, at this week’s quarterly meeting, the Commission did just that (see video, starting at time=2:41): it considered the historic qualifications of the Trestle (for a 4th (!) time) and again voted unanimously, this time to rephrase its reasons.  The Commission will now return to court at the end of May to demonstrate to the judge that the findings meet the specific format required.  Our lawyer expects that at that time the Commission will win the lawsuit and the historic status of the Trestle will be conclusive.



At the time the city approved the demolition back in 2014, the Trestle was not yet listed in the California Register, and its approvals of demolition were upheld by the court for that reason.  But the city still needs approval from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to remove the Trestle from the creek, as its prior approvals have expired.  CDFW and the city entered into the required “streambed alteration agreement” last fall, without considering alternatives to demolition as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for demolition of a historic resource.  We thus filed a new lawsuit to require the city and CDFW to consider the feasibility of adaptive reuse of the Trestle now that it is formally historic.  Demolition would cause a significant environmental impact the historic resource and so alternatives must be considered in an EIR.  That case is pending; we will soon seek a Temporary Restraining Order before the June 15th start of construction season for work in the creekbed.



People have been posting very misleading messages on Facebook, trying to scare residents about creosote.  Both the city’s 2014 EIR (which now needs updating to reflect the Trestle’s historic status) and the CDFW have determined that the rehab of the trestle for the pedestrian trail would have no significant environmental impacts in the creek, to fish, etc.; they don’t share those dire warnings about creosote.


And so we continue to pursue political compromises and alternate financing and hybrid technical solutions and more -- more in a future update!


Many thanks for your continued and long-standing support!




Jan 1, 2019: the Willow Glen Trestle in the year 2019


·        The trestle is still standing.

·        The trestle is historic and is listed in the State Register of Historical Resources.  The City has filed suit asking the Courts to force the State to recant; the case is still pending.

·        The trestle is still endangered.  In 2017 the courts ruled the City could proceed with their demolition plans as they’d been approved before the trestle was officially declared historic.  However, the City still needed a permit from the State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (DFW), a new environmental review which did not predate the historic finding.  The City claimed that the DFW was only allowed to review “Fish” and “Wildlife”; we held that the environmental review must consider all factors – including the loss of a State-listed historic structure.  In October, in an action that we are challenging in court, the DFW issued the City the permit.  As the City was prepared to jump on a moment’s notice – they had even pre-positioned the sandbags and a porta-potty – we filed for an emergency Temporary Restraining Order.  After various hearings and deadline extensions, the City eventually decided not to try to attempt demolition before the start of the rainy season, and the sandbags and porta-potty have now been removed.  It appears that the trestle is safe for the season.

·        Also in October, I gave an on-site tour of the trestle to the newly appointed Director of the Parks Dept., and he suggested a compromise: install the new bridge without demolishing the trestle.  While at first it may seem like a strange idea, it would work: the old trestle would remain intact with the new freestanding bridge installed a foot or two above it.  The State Office of Historic Preservation said they’d accept this: the trestle would still be visible and would actually remain in a more historic condition.  Without the demolition, it is quicker and cheaper to complete the trail, and it is also better for the environment.  But now the City won’t talk to us about it, citing the ongoing litigation.  (Also, we’ve heard that some in the City just don’t like the trestle, claiming that it’s “ugly”.)

·        In December, Steve Holmes of the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition counted dozens of ~3‑foot-long Chinook salmon that had swum in from the ocean, thru the Bay and upstream past the trestle, and were spawning in the Los Gatos Creek in Campbell.  The City’s EIR states that demolishing the trestle could release contaminants that adversely impact fish. 

·        And the City’s grant funding expired at the end of the year.  We’ve let the granting agency know that we’d support a deadline extension if the City accepts their compromise.


And so the saga of the Willow Glen Trestle continues into another year!


Have a Happy 2019,

and many thanks for your continued support!




Fate of WG Trestle to be determined in Court Wed Oct 10th!

The City of San José is anxious to demolish the Willow Glen Trestle before the October 15 deadline imposed by the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW).  Yesterday CDFW gave a final permit to allow the demolition to proceed.  The city has already started pre-positioning supplies and rolled out a porta-potty and think they can have the trestle demolished within a week.


Thanks to our crack legal team, we had victory: we filed a new case yesterday and sought and received a TRO (temporary restraining order) from the superior court.  With the trestle designated as historic by the State of California, we have good new legal grounds to stop the demolition. 


A big hearing on preliminary injunction is now set for this coming Wednesday 10/10/18, at 1:30 PM.  The judge will decide whether to extend the injunction so that we can pursue the new case, or instead withdraw the injunction and let the city pursue the trestle demolition.


>> We hope you can join us to show the judge how many of us care about the trestle:

Courtroom 5 (on the 3rd floor) in the Downtown Superior Courthouse,

191 North 1st St, across from St. James Park.


Please come to show your support and watch the legal fireworks!


>> We hope you can attend! <<



Possible compromise?  See concept.




 July 2018:


Status of the Willow Glen Trestle, July, 2018:

*       It is still standing, tall and strong, unswayed by nearly a century of floods, fires, and freight trains.  This past winter, salmon were spawning within sight of the trestle.

*       It is now formally listed as Historic by the state.  The City has recently sued the state to have that overturned, but unless that happens the trestle will continue to be listed.  (The case may not be resolved for months or years.)

*       However, last year the courts upheld the City’s 2014 plans to demolish the trestle, which occurred before the new historic listing.

*       City staff are marching forward to demolish the trestle: contractors have already been given on-site inspections and appear ready to move on a moment’s notice.

*       However, the City is lacking one permit: a “streambed alteration agreement” from the State Department of Fish & Wildlife.  The City has already applied for this agreement/permit, which we are opposing.  The trestle’s official historic status and state environmental law impacts the case.  The Fish & Wildlife Dept. is still reviewing the matter.



*       Google is planning a major development around the nearby Diridon Train Station.

*       Google and the Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) are talking about improving and developing the Los Gatos Creek Trail as a major feature of the site.  (See presentation, p. 21-24.)  They both also have expressed interest in historic preservation.

*       We’ve reached out to Google and the SAAG about the WG Trestle, which is less than a mile from the planned Google Village and would enhance the character of their project.  They may be interested but will need some time to evaluate the issue. 

*       Also, while the Santa Clara Valley Water District is officially “neutral” concerning the trestle in the creek, it has extended the deadline on its $450k grant for the restoration of the trestle.


Usually, when an old structure is to be removed, there is an open and public process to discuss the matter and folks are proud of the results: we’ve all seen the movies of a mayor somewhere pushing a button to demolish a derelict warehouse to make way for a new children’s hospital.  Somehow, I don’t see San Jose inviting the public to such an event here: instead, this has always had the vague feel of a “rigged” scheme, of “petty politics” and “the done deal.”


Finally, a couple quotes:

*       In their new “San Jose Trail Toolkit” (May, 2018), the City talks about old bridges and then says, “The City of San José strongly supports iconic or placemaking bridges at high-traffic and highly-visible locations, as they can encourage greater usage, and support tourism and community identity.” 

*       And, in his closing remarks at the Oct. 2017 meeting of the State Historical Resources Commission, Commissioner Alberto Bertoli said: 
“[The Willow Glen Trestle] has a visual quality.  It is not something that would be built today, ... technology has evolved and it would be entirely different.   However, it has an aesthetical uniqueness to the area, ...[and] having trails going thru is actually quite appealing: instead of going thru concrete or steel that has very little thing to do with the touch of the human person, this is something that represents something of the time when it was done – it represents that particular period, [that particular area] there.”


What can you do? 

>> Tell your friends and neighbors (and Councilmember and City Staff!) about the WG Trestle, and that you’d like to see it saved, restored, and incorporated into the trail network!




 Oct 2017:

It’s official -- reaffirmed and finalized!
The Willow Glen Trestle is formally listed in the
California State Historical Register!


Many thanks, everyone!

The Commission was most impressed
by the incredible amount of community support!


In May 2017, the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC)
unanimously declared the Willow Glen Trestle to be historic (see below),
but the City then asked for a "re-do" -- it filed a request for "redetermination".


At the SHRC's Oct. 27th quarterly meeting, the Commissioners
heard from both sides and then reaffirmed their May decision:
the Trestle is historic and is listed as such on the State Register.


Here's a link to the video of the meeting (start at time = 1:22),
my "prepared remarks", the presented charts, and a few photos.



Naysayers have said "Fire! Flood! Contamination!"

* Fire is a concern for nearly everything.
A Nov 2017 fire at a nearby trestle shows how resilient trestles really are:
it was inspected that afternoon and carrying freight trains that week.
Also: the WG Trestle's restoration plans include sprinkler systems & alarms.

* Flooding was shown to not be a problem:
the Jan 2017 floodwaters flowed right thru the trestle, as modeled.

* Contamination: page 166 of the DEIR Appendices states:
"leaving the pilings of the Three Creeks Bridge in place will not pose a risk to terrestrial or aquatic receptors".
Indeed, salmon have been spotted spawning both upstream and downstream of the trestle.



On October 5, 2017,

the Santa Clara Superior Court issued its ruling

in the City's favor: it is not required to do an EIR for the trestle.


The City had presented a 1-page memo from 2004

(back when the plans had been to restore the trestle and use it for a trail connection),
that said that the trestle was not historic,
and the Court said that that evidence, "thin as it is," is "sufficient".
"That the Friends [of the Willow Glen Trestle] can point to other contrary and more recent evidence ... is irrelevant... "

While we are disappointed by the Court's ruling, we are still victorious:
our intent was to get the trestle recognized as historic,

either by the City's EIR process, or else by protecting the trestle so that we could pursue the matter ourselves.

Now that the Trestle is recognized as historic, we can work to save it!


Other updates:

Google is planning to come to Diridon Station!
There are impacts & opportunities for the Los Gatos Creek, including the Trestle.

Here's a Mercury News guest editorial on the subject,
along with LLA letter 6/23/17; referenced paper; and referenced diagram.




older news:

May 10, 2017, the California State Historical Register formally listed the Willow Glen Trestle


Fifteen nominations were heard at the May 10th quarterly meeting of the State Historical Resources Commission.

Most of the nominees had maybe a letter or two of support; the WG Trestle had 24!

Letters from Co. Supervisor Dave Cortese, the former SHPO Wayne Donaldson, the grandchildren of the engineer that originally designed the trestle, the ACTC cycling group, and a number from neighbors recalling seeing the trains in their youth.

Several neighbors of the trestle came down to Pasadena just to speak at the hearing (many thanks!!)

Quoting Cmsnr Hoyos, "I'm encouraged and I'm glad to hear a community take such great interest in something that's theirs."


Commissioner Bertoli summarized:

"I need to go to my personal feeling. The bridge ... this short bridge -- little bridge -- has a very, very attractive aesthetical quality, if we just analyze it from that point of view.

And there are a few, but not many, of those quality of bridges, and the scale of it seems to be pretty much at the scale of the community.

And from that point of view, in my opinion, it seems very appropriate to keep it, to maintain it."

Also: "It is not one of the many, it is one of the very, very few, and as anything that is historical, or ... have historical consequence, that criterion, of having one of the few that remains, that is an important one to preserve the history of California as a whole."


The commission then did a roll-call vote, and unanimously voted to list the trestle on the California Historical Register.


>> Watch the video!

The discussion of the Willow Glen Trestle begins at time-marker = 2:12:30;

the proponents presentation is at 2:21:48;

the opponents start at 2:42:22.

The five-minute rebuttals are at 2:59:00 for the proponents, opponents at 3:04:20.

The Commission begins discussion at 3:09:15;

the question is called at 3:22:10, the voting begins at 3:22:45, and at 3:23:05 it is unanimously approved.

>> You can also view the charts and read the transcript.


>> Guest Editorial in the Mercury News 5/25/17


On June 10th, we celebrated the historical listing of the trestle: see Photos, and a Video of speeches.



Donate to the SJ Parks Foundation's WG Trestle Fund!
We're collecting funds to help with the trestle's restoration and maintenance!
The San Jose Parks Foundation (a 501-c3 tax-exempt organization)

has set up an account exclusively for the Willow Glen Trestle:

Go to for more information,

or mail donations to

San Jose Parks Foundation

P.O. Box 53841
San Jose, California 95153
attn: The Willow Glen Trestle Fund




Older information

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.

* Meeting agenda
* Pending nominations (15 total statewide)
* Complete formal application
* Official photo set


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 
Please copy William Burg, State Historian, at 
(And I'd appreciate a copy as well: )

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


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.



* 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 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


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 Jose,

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:

 HLC_5-6-15a   HLC_5-6-15b


A bittersweet & confusing epilog:
at the San Jose 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 Jose'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 Jose Parks Foundation
has set up a fund to help with trestle preservation and restoration.


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



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

  map_tn     aerial_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

* illustration by LLA of possible concept for trestle adaptation, March 2015


* 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 Jose Mercury News by L. Ames & H. Chapman (5/8/13)

* Editorial in San Jose 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 Jose 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:

* Info from HLC in support of granting status:

* resolution to rescind prior contract:

* certifying CEQA for demolition of WG Trestle and new prefab bridge:

* recommendations for Agenda 4.5: Memo by Matt Cano on why trestle should be demolished:

* Don Rocha's compromise WG Trestle blue memo:


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

* Los Gatos Creek: "River Walk -- San Jose 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"


* June 2017: City continues to fight the trestle's historic designation. The State Historical Resource Commission will consider the request for "redetermination" at their Oct. 27th meeting in Sacramento.

* Court case continues, w/ Judge requesting more info and more time. 6/21/17

* SJ Councilmember Don Rocha 6/21/17 asks City to stop, but the City decides to battle on. (agenda; CM Rocha memo; LLA talk)


* City attorney's report out on decision in Closed Session to sue the State Historical Resources Commission, 12/19/17

* article in the WG Resident on the above, 1/5/18


* SF Superior Court’s “Order for Interlocutory Remand” 4/2/19 in city’s suit against the State Historical Resources Commission

*  State Hist. Resources Cmsn updated findings 5/8/19

*  Court’s denial of city’s suit 6/12/19


WGT Conservancy v. City of San José & Calif Dept. of Fish & Wildlife:

*  WGT motion for injunction 6/3/19; CoSJ opposing injunction;  preliminary injunction 6/12/19

*  WGT opening brief; LLA declaration; supplemental brief

*  CoSJ points; Declarations by Katherine Brown and David von Rueden

*  Court ruling against trestle, 6/28/19


*  Demolition Notice, 6/24/19


*  Presentation to County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg’s staff 6/26/19: charts & notes


*  Appellate Court: Opening Brief Oct 15, 2019


*  Deed recording the city’s purchase of the railroad right-of-way for the Three Creeks Trail, including the WGT, 12/23/11, parcel map, and a Conservation Easement 

*  Letter to City, County, and OSA re Conservation Easement, 12/12/19

*  Motion to Santa Clara Co. Board of Supervisors Jan 28, 2020,
and LLA notes on outcome

*  Overall summary of WGT: history, background, and status, as of 2/11/20


*  timeline of the entire WGT process

*  photo of the WGT in 1984, when we first started trying to have it be a part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail.


last update 8/25/21