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The Madera Tribune

Ghosts at the bottom of the Bay

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webmaster | 08/25/12

My gal and I had taken Highway 101 to the Bay too many times to remember — in our younger days to party in the City, but lately it seemed to see a specialist for heart or back, or for a hospital stay. Over the years it was a 49ers football, Sharks hockey, or Giants game, but mostly just to get to our favorite city of San Francisco.

Just north of San Jose, Highways 880 and 101 form a “V” with one arm going to the East Bay and the other along the peninsula. Connecting these two busy roads just before San Francisco Bay splits them is lightly used Highway 237. We cruised along that thoroughfare to the littleknown town of Alviso in hopes of finding a ghost town at the edge of the Bay.

With the sprawling growth of the area Alviso is now considered just another residential area of San Jose. However, it has a rich and storied past, which began when Corp. Domingo Alviso, one of the original members of the De Anza expedition of the 1770s, decided to remain in the area. He settled where Coyote Creek and the Guadalupe River end their journey to the Bay and named the spot for his son, Ignacio Alviso. When his father died shortly afterward, Ignacio moved to this 3,600- acre ranchero. He built a port and shipped hides, beaver pelts, and tallow to San Francisco. The town was born.

By 1852, Alviso had incorporated and quickly became the shipping hub for the Santa Clara Valley. Steamboats were a regular sight, traveling between Alviso and San Francisco. With the end of the Civil War, and railroads moving in, the town began to decline. Alviso was not considered important enough for a stop by the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad. But as luck would have it, in the 1880s the town became a stop on the Newark line of the Southern Pacific Railroad between Oakland and San Jose...


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