The Coyote train depot is trucked along Monterey Highway to its new home at History Park in San Jose on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Photo courtesy Ken Middlebrook/History San Jose)

California had been a state for less than two decades and the Civil War had ended only four years earlier when Southern Pacific built a train depot in the tiny Santa Clara Valley community of Coyote in 1869, along the first route connecting San Jose and Gilroy.

And now, 155 years later, the 760 square-foot building has made the trip to San Jose, where it takes its place among the other historical buildings and artifacts at History Park. It took about 90 minutes Saturday morning for Scott House Movers, under the supervision of Garden City Construction’s Jim Salata, to truck the depot from the still-unincorporated Coyote along Monterey Highway to the historical museum at Kelley Park on Senter Road and Phelan Avenue.

History San Jose CEO Bill Schroh Jr. said he was walking through the park a few years ago when he remarked to Ken Middlebrook, History San Jose’s curator of collections, that a train depot would fit perfectly between Dashaway Stables and the rail collection of a Southern Pacific locomotive, Orchard Supply Hardware boxcar and a caboose.

Fortunately, Middlebrook had one in mind. Since 2017, he had been part of a grass-roots effort to save the Coyote depot from demolition. It was owned by Union Pacific — which merged with Southern Pacific in the 1990s — and was set to be torn down because of plans for the high-speed rail line through the area.

“The next day I contacted Peter Kerney of the Union Pacific Railroad and asked him how I could get the Coyote Depot to History Park,” Schroh said. “After a two-year negotiation, they sold the depot to us for $1.”

A Santa Clara County grant to the California Trolley and Railroad Corp., a History San Jose affiliate, covered the costs to move the depot, which is now owned by the city of San Jose. It was the first building moved to History Park, which opened in 1977, since the Andrew P. Hill House in 1998.

Schroh says History San Jose plans to restore the depot back to its original condition and convert it into a transportation museum, along with a new model railroad display that will be attached to the structure.

“We were able to save the second-oldest train depot in the Valley and once restored will showcase the early history of railroads in the Valley,” Schroh said. “Small depots like this one helped create the Valley of Heart’s Delight.”

Maybe the most fun part will be installing a working telegraph line that would connect the Coyote Train Depot with the Coyote Post Office building on the north side of the park, so visitors could learn how people “texted” before cell phones. Of course, fundraising campaigns are already in the works for those projects.

PRESERVATION HALL OF FAME: History Park was also the venue last Friday night for the third annual Preservation Awards Night, hosted by the Santa Clara County Preservation Alliance, which was emceed by Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner and included remarks from San Jose City Councilmember Bien Doan, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and State Sen. Dave Cortese.

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