Tag Archives: james lick

Evergreen’s Best Drives – Road Reviews

P1300723Evergreen’s rolling, green hills and stunning vistas do not only provide its suburban gold a splendorous backdrop.  These beautiful hillsides and over a hundred year old paths are endless entertainment for motorists, experienced and not, since their creation.  As a teen, I never had a mischievous side but rather an intense curiosity.  I would drive until I had to turn around in every direction.  I could get to San Francisco without hitting a single freeway, and only later did I find out I had taken a 200 year old path by California’s settlers.  I practiced on Quimby Road before driving over Highway 17 to Santa Cruz.  I’d rather be close to home and stuck than far away and stuck.  Today and throughout this research, I use these Evergreen roadways as pallet cleansers for the creativity and for a sense of what Evergreen is and was.  I review from a place of experience.

1876 MapUntil the 1880’s, these roadways were unpaved horse carriage and cattle driving passages.  King Road, Quimby Road, White Road, San Felipe Road, Chew Lane, Evergreen Road, Fowler Road, Cadwallader Avenue, Norwood Avenue and Silver Creek Road were the major roadways.  King Road would’ve taken you into Downtown San Jose.  Tully Road would’ve gotten you to Monterey Highway and either Downtown, Gilroy, San Francisco, or Oakland.  Norwood Avenue, Fowler Road and Quimby Road would’ve snaked into the hillside and provided passage for farmers.  When these weren’t direct enough, farmers were friendly enough to let others walk through their properties or boundary roads.

early_summitJames Lick Observatory’s necessary roadway through one of the most complicated stretches of mountain terrain made paving Evergreen’s rolling hills were no longer insurmountable tasks.  James Lick, philanthropist and business mogul, dedicated a Trust with the funds for the Observatory and Telescope in 1874.  The trip was made by horseback in 1875 to the summit of Mt. Hamilton, though no previous trail had been blazed, and won out against several Bay Area mountain peak options.  Alum Rock’s original roadway to the Observatory’s construction site was completed in 1876 for $70,000.00.  That was fairly astronomical in 1870’s dollars.  By 1879, the engineers and scientists worked the numbers and construction was underway.  The James Lick Observatory with its Alum Rock Avenue access was completed in 1881.  The early 1900’s saw plenty of paving of Evergreen roads, but it’s these roads which have not been altered in route or direction that make the best driving today.

03OVER-master675Since we’re talking about it and it’s so close to Evergreen, Alum Rock Avenue is not for the car sick.  Do not blindfold your best friend and try to bring her closer to the stars.  Do not be surprised if one or both of the following happen if you do this – she vomits in your car or she gets really upset with you and convinces herself that you’re not her friend and this isn’t fun.  Alum Rock Avenue connects San Jose to Mount Hamilton most directly through the curvaceous mountainside.  The Mt. Diablo Mountain Range, for which Evergreen is a foothill, is aptly named and deviously windy.  Now also known as Highway 130, this roadway leads over the summit and into Livermore eventually, this little time to have a good time.  It’s conditions for driving aren’t always great.  There’s sometimes snow on the summit and black ice making it  dangerous.  On a good day, the constant turning roadway isn’t one of the ones I remember super fondly.  You worked to get to the Observatory, where views are spectacular.  Heavily wooded areas make photos along the way difficult, but if you can look back towards San Jose, it can be stunning.  Sunsets are beautiful.

CAM10919P1300635San Felipe Road has the keys to my heart and its been well documented.  Sunsets over oak trees and grazing land are spectacular.  Reports of haunting and phantom hand prints are reported at night on the windy drive.  Do not, I report, do not do anything silly on this roadway.  Just watch it on youtube and laugh.  This stretch of road is a photographer’s dream complete with indigenous wildlife and awesome sunsets.  The curves, speed limits and turn offs are clearly marked making it a driver’s heartthrob eventually turning into Metcalf Road.  The turns and inconsistencies of elevation and scenery make it a delight for the casual driver, but think about your ambitious bikers along the way.  Deer also frequently cross.  Be careful, but enjoy.

P1320017IMG_4183Tully Road is not a great drive.  Steep inclines make it awesome fireworks views and Santa Clara Valley vistas, but it doesn’t go on long enough for any decent ride.  Recent development also delays scenic gratification for photographers searching antique views.  These are great vantages of Downtown San Jose.  Similar reviews can be had of Fowler Road, as its route has been so heavily revised and cut short.  Oh, what those hills could say if we could them from up there.

night tourDeer Valley - Joseph D. Grant County ParkQuimby Road is windy but enjoyable.  This is the perfect casual drive with four wheel drive.  Turns are sharp, but the vistas are spectacular.  Farmers and Open Space still exist in Evergreen and this short vacation drive will prove it to you.  A few miles from civilization, you’ll have to decide if you’re blood is pumping enough for one joy ride or if you’re ready to endure more.  This road meets Mt. Hamilton Road and continues into Joseph Grant Park just outside of Evergreen.  This is a place where you can appreciate the natural beauty of what was here before all of us were.  There are also ghost stories of Joseph Grant Park and easily persuaded Park Rangers with a fascination for the macabre.

CAM09485CAM09492Those were long drives to sink your tires into.  Little known and fun-sized rides through rustic glory can be taken in following Aborn Road to the end and Chaboya Road by the Sikh Gurdwara.   These are awkward U-turns but worth the trouble.  These nearby and awesome drives host fantastic, antique barns, spotted horses, and thunderous oak trees.  Wildlife also make this a photographer’s haven.  It’s seen deer, quail, owls, turkeys and bobcats on these drives.  It’s superb.

The corner of Yerba Buena Road and Edenwood Drive where 24-year-old Kiran Pabla was killed in an accident is blocked off from traffic in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Pabla, a bystander, was killed in an accident involving two speeding cars thought to be racing. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)I only have one truly negative driving review from Evergreen.  Yerba Buena Road has luscious turns that drivers enjoy but it dissects the Silver Creek Community.  Pedestrians,  students, bikers and motorists alike share these windy inclines and declines.  Sadly, fatal accidents occur on Yerba Buena Road due to reckless or careless driving.  It’s happened to someone near to me.  Don’t take this everyday Evergreen roadway lightly.  There is nowhere to pull over and photograph until you pass the college.  It’s reasonable scenery but nothing to write home about.  These walls across from Silver Creek Linear Park and Fire Station may be a second project once the Evergreen Mural Walk become profitable.





Flying through Evergreen

images1118Evergreen in the southeast corner of San Jose has a long legacy of ranching, agriculture and entrepreneurship throughout its timeline, creating continuity and inspiration throughout this collection of murals that I have planned for our Evergreen Gateway.  Another legacy Evergreen has had over time is a love affair with flight and the sky.

In 1876, one of California’s wealthiest citizens, James Lick, put aside the funds for the most powerful telescope ever and world’s first mountain top observatory.  It couldn’t be done without the County of Santa Clara building the windy road that same year.  James Lick Observatory nearby Evergreen began construction in 1880 and completed in 1888.  Located on Mount Hamilton, horses brought materials up a series of switchbacks to reach the summit beyond the paved road, now Highway 130.  There is a whole list of discoveries and research coming out of the observatory.  But…. this is just outside of Evergreen.  People would have stopped in Evergreen on their way to East San Jose, Smith Creek and James Lick Observatory.

blog-john-j-montgomery-evergreen-glider-4822116017_ec9321cdf5_oAround the same time the observatory was being built, John Joseph Montgomery(1858-1911) was looking up at birds flying through the sky.  The engineer and physicist set out to invent a glider that mimicked their wings.  Montgomery would move to Evergreen with his family, and continue his experiments by running off the slope of the hills.  His flight experiments would predate that of the Wright Brothers and become the first heavier than air vehicle to take flight.  These flying machine designs would be inspired by the coastal gulls and Evergreen indigenous Turkey Vultures, articulating and guiding the air.  His inventions would go to the World Fair and make him famous all over the country.  Later becoming a professor at Santa Clara University, both he and his assistant, Daniel Malohney, would loose their lives in aviating accidents in the early 1900’s.  Their work made the Wright’s Brothers flight possible.

1977In the Evergreen neighborhood, there are city parks, residential streets, statues and  monuments, an elementary school and an observatory at Evergreen Valley College named after inventor, John J. Montgomery.  His machines made later innovations within Aviation possible, testing different configurations of wings and mechanism through his work.  The Montgomery family were long time residents of Evergreen.

vinfiz_harrietHarriet Quimby(1875-1912) would move to Evergreen in the 1890’s, when Montgomery’s experiments began.  Harriet would become a journalist and Hollywood movie screenwriter.  She also became a pioneer lady aviator breaking gender barriers and world records.  In the midst of Montgomery’s death, she became the first licensed female pilot.  Harriet was the spokeswoman for a grape soda company because of her famous purple flight suit.  She broke many borders for women in her field and died in an aviating accident in 1912.  Unfortunately, Quimby Road is not named after Harriet, but likely one of her distant family members.

2010_rhv_ad1Bob and Cecil Reid, World War I veterans, built Garden City Airport in 1935, near present day McLaughlin and 101.  Garden City Airport would have to move for the construction of the Highway in 1938.

The Garden City Airport would move to Reid Hillview Airport in 1939 northwest of Hillview Golf Club.  This NASA research starting at Moffet Field, commercial flights had to go elsewhere.  Though the runway wouldn’t be paved until 1946, it was an efficient way to ship fruit out of the Valley of Heart’s Delight.  Before that time, fruit had to be shipped by train to the rest of the country and dried fruits were all the rage.  Veterans were also enjoying the excitement of flight during peace times.

dcb760eede6326284571dac04a0ad0b9The airport expanded in 1965 with  the construction of a second runway and the control tower.  Over time, the County Fairgrounds and San Jose Speedway would also be located at Evergreen’s Hillview Airport until its expansion.  Today, San Jose State University’s Aviation program flies out of Reid Hillview.

Our_hanger_largeAmelia Reid, Cecil’s daughter-in-law, was another famous woman pilot.  The Evergreen flyer earned her commercial pilot’s license and had a fondness for vintage aircrafts herself.  Amelia operated a flight school out of Reid Hillview, empowering the next generation of pilots and flight enthusiasts.  Amelia’s flight career would last over 60 years.

Evergreen’s fascination with flight wouldn’t end there.  Montgomery Hill Observatory opened at Evergreen Valley College in 2003 and holds star gazing events open to the public today.

Evergreen’s love affair with the flying is still alive and well at Reid Hillview Airport today.  Below is the artwork that ties some of this amazing Evergreen history together.