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Ramohs Pacific Railroad in East Los Gatos

Ramohs Pacific Railroad in East Los Gatos

Graphic with locomotive for the RM Heintz miniature train, the Ramohs Pacific RailroadThe Ramohs Pacific Railroad once ran through the foothills off of Blossom Hill Road in East Los Gatos. Today there are hiking trails in the Heintz Open Space Preserve (behind the Heritage Grove neighborhood put up by SummerHill Homes in about the year 2000).

Recommended reading on the Ramohs Pacific Railroad

If you enjoy Los Gatos history, you will love this in depth look at the Ramohs Pacific Railroad by Derek Whaley on his Santa Cruz Trains website:

RM Heintz Miniature Railroad on the Santa Cruz Trains site.

 

Related reading on Los Gatos history

Cheeky Los Gatos article from 1892 (on this website)

Los Gatos and the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic: Part 1 (this site)

Hooker Gulch in the Los Gatos Mountains (this site)

Ming Quong: a Los Gatos Monument (this site)

The Los Gatos History Project (NUMU)

 

 

Ralph Heintz’ QSL Card – a little local history

The other day, my husband, Jim Handy, found a photo of Ralph Heintz’ QSL Card on a history website and requested permission for me to share it with our readers here. Permission given – I hope you enjoy this step back in time!

Ralph Heintz’ QSL Card

Ralph Heintz' QSL Card - ham radio signal - Ramos farm in Los Gatos CA

Credit Engineering and Technology History Wiki (used by permission)

QSL cards are postcard sized collectibles used by ham radio hobbyists to record when they have communicated with each other.  Traditionally they will include cartoon drawings related to the ham who sends them out.

Ralph Heintz’ QSL Card has three cartoons: His miniature train (ridden by him, wife Sophie, and their dog, Gilmore, and parrot, Shorty), his observatory, and his home with a big ham radio antenna over it.

The Heintz Open Space in east Los Gatos still has remnants of all three landmarks.

  • There’s grading for the long-gone railroad and a tunnel entrance. The tunnel entrance is closed up for safety reasons, of course.
  • The round concrete foundation of the observatory is still there.
  • And there are remnants of a house next to the observatory.
  • Another part of the trail appears to have been the driveway leading up the hill.

The one thing I’m not sure of is the location of the house when Ralph and Sophie lived there. Previously I thought it was the large farmhouse now within the Heritage Grove neighborhood. It makes sense that the ham radio antenna would be higher up on the hill, though, and if the house was next to that antenna it wouldn’t be the farmhouse lower down. When I find out, I’ll correct this post. If any of our readers have more insight on any of this, please email me and I’ll update this post.

Ralph Heintz’ QSL Card is a fun step back in time. I wish I could have seen his railroad, tunnel, observatory, and antenna.

 

 

Related reading:

The Heritage Grove Neighborhood in Los Gatos and the Heintz Open Space Preserve (more photos on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

QSL Cards on Wikipedia

More local history articles here on the Live in Los Gatos Blog

Heintz and Kaufman manufacturing business

How old are the oldest houses in Los Gatos and nearby?

Historic Homes in Los GatosIf you drive through the Edelen, Almond Grove, Fairview Plaza, Glenridge and other older and historic Los Gatos neighborhoods, you may have wondered how far back in time these architecturally interesting properties go. What are the oldest residences in town, or close by?

Los Gatos Historic Homes

Are there Adobes?

In the Santa Clara Valley, there are a handful of old adobe homes here and there, such as the Peralta Adobe in downtown San Jose (built in 1797), and the Santa Clara Women’s Club Adobe (built in 1790), and many more. I can’t say for certain if there are any remaining 18th-19th century adobe homes in Los Gatos. If they exist the most probable properties are around the Los Gatos Saratoga border, are private, occupied homes, and have extensive additions and modifications.

Victorian Era: Gold Rush to Gem of the Foothills

When discussing historic homes in the Bay Area, the Victorian undoubtedly comes to mind. And Los Gatos has plenty! A search of county real estate records for Los Gatos homes (in town, 95030 & 95032 plus the mountains, 95033) spanning the era from 1837-1901 revealed hundreds of properties identified as Victorian construction. It displayed about about 375 in 95030, 120 in 95032, and also about 140 in 95033. (more…)

Ming Quong: a Los Gatos Monument

Ming Quong Arch appx c.1940

Children playing beneath the arch at the entrance to the Loma Alta Home around 1940.

At the end of Loma Alta Ave in the foothills sits the Los Gatos campus of Uplift Family Services, formerly Eastfield Ming Quong (EMQ) Family First. Tucked away among quiet residential streets, this unassuming establishment often goes unnoticed by locals, but it has deep roots in this Town and across the Bay Area, and especially within the Chinese community.

Origins: “Radiant Light”

Discriminatory laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) took their toll on US Chinatowns. Organized crime took hold in US Chinatowns and with it, human trafficking. Tong kidnaped Chinese women, smuggling them through the Golden Gate and into prostitution and slavery. In the late 19th century, Presbyterian missionaries in San Francisco began an effort to help the victims, women and children, escape to safety.

This undertaking expanded, providing safe houses and orphanages: Chung Mei (“China America”) Home for boys and Ming Quong (“radiant light”) Homes for girls.

(more…)

Mountain Charley

Mountain Charley's Saloon sign - named after the colorful figure well known in Los Gatos“Mountain Charley” was one of the first non-native settlers to this area and he made his home in the summit area of  the Santa Cruz Mountains beginning in 1851. (In some places, he’s referred to as Mountain Charlie.)

Mountain Charley’s Wild West

Charles Henry McKiernan was an Irishman turned Californian ’49er whose main claim to fame is that he was attacked by a thousand pound, angry mama grizzly bear and managed to live despite losing a chunk of his skull to her.

Mountain Charley lived a full life for more than 40 years after the encounter. He married a nurse who cared for him after his 3rd operation, and together they raised a large family of 7 children. Charley had a variety of other wild encounters from stagecoach robbers to trained elephants, but he was a prosperous businessman in this rough and tumble era and accumulated thousands of acres of valuable land.

His colorful story lives on as part of the town of Los Gatos’ more interesting history – and folklore.

Related Reading

E Clampus Vitus has a page on Mountain Charlie if you’d like to learn more.

Another colorful person in Los Gatos, sometimes confused with Mountain Charley, was Charley Parkhurst, written about in Surprises of the Wild West of Los Gatos on this site.

Cheeky Los Gatos Article from 1892

Tucked away on the back page of the San Jose Daily Mercury from Monday September 5th, 1892 is an amusing and impudent little article titled “The Effect of the ‘Mercury’ on the Gem of the Foothills”.

It reads:San Jose Mercury-news, Volume XLII, Number 67, 5 September 1892

San Jose, says the Los Gatos News, is making a lively bid for Los Gatos favors. The Mercury has arranged for a daily news budget and an agent (his name is Dennis) is canvassing the town for subscribers. Like the Novitiate College and Glenridge, the Garden City will soon be applying for annexation to Los Gatos. No doubt San Jose envies us our felicitous zephyrs and the picturesqueness of our mountain scenery and would like us to divide the honor which the Gem of the Foothills monopolizes on the Pacific Coast. We advise our Town Board to go slow on San Jose. It would be well to modestly suggest that our patronizing sister first purge herself of the discordant elements which have been blazoned from the electric tower and have been made so conspicuous in the councils of the body politic before we risk the chances of admitting her to our peaceful realm. We will take the Mercury on probation and if the evidences of peace and good will develop a tendency to reform in these important particulars, we may, at some future time, consider a proposition to admit San Jose as a suburb, providing she will allow us the privilege of attaching to her main sewer to the Bay, or offer some other equally persuasive inducement.

The author sets up the joke right at the start. The News and the Mercury are competing daily papers; the Mercury (based in San Jose) is hawking subscriptions in Los Gatos (home of the News) while condescending to the Town in it’s publications, at least in the author’s opinion. In response the author (presumably from our little Town and proud of it) turns right around and patronizes them back! This article references contemporary issues, from overtly bragging about annexations and reputations, to addressing the desired expansion of public utilities (sewage, in this case), and takes jabs at San Jose’s first attempt at electric street lighting and the “San Jose Electric-Light War”! What a cheeky piece of history!