Since 1970, the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad has operated its miniature trains in Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks in Los Gatos. A favorite attraction for families all around the Silicon Valley, the small-scale trains operate year-round, taking its riders on a 15-minute journey through both parks, departing from its charming train depot. As Halloween approaches, locals look forward to embarking on The Pumpkin Train, a special excursion that runs for three weeks in October that includes a ride on one of the historic trains to a pumpkin patch created inside the park.
History of the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad
Born in Ben Lomond, in 1939 railroad man William Billy Jones discovered a 1905 miniature steam locomotive in a San Francisco scrap yard. He purchased the train and spent hours restoring. In 1943, Billy opened his railroad on his private 9-acre Los Gatos prune orchard known as “The Ranch” located at Dave and Winchester Avenues. The railroad and “Engine No 2” enchanted families from all across the Silicon Valley and beyond for over 25 years. One of its most notable visitors was Walt Disney, who became close friends with Billy Jones. The Wildcat Railroad logo was designed by Disney animator, Ward Kimbell.
Following Billy Jones’ death in 1968, a group of local businesspeople formed the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, Inc., a not for profit foundation “dedicated to the preservation of railroad history, affordable family entertainment and the education of youth.”
They relocated the entire railroad to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, where an engine house, train depot and tracks were constructed. The new Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad began operation in July 1970. Renown the world over, the Railroad has been featured on television shows including On the Road with Charles Kuralt and CBS 5’s Eye on the Bay. By the early 1990s, the railroad had over 100,00 riders annually and it continues to be a huge attraction for families both near and far. Throughout the years, the organization continued to expand its fleet of trains as well as add other historic attractions including a 1915 one-of-kind British wooden horse carousel.
The Annual Pumpkin Train
Now in its third year, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad Pumpkin Train operates Friday through Sunday from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, traveling to a pumpkin patch where riders disembark to pick from one of the hundreds of locally grown gourds. In addition to the train ride and pumpkin patch, the ticket price includes a ride on the historic W.E. “Bill” Mason Carousel. The snack shack is also open, serving up festive treats for pumpkin pickers to enjoy.
Pumpkin Train Ticket Options:
There are three packages for The Pumpkin Train: The $5 ticket includes one train and carousel ride while the $12 package includes a train and carousel ride and a pumpkin. For those wanting a VIP experience, $18 gets each rider unlimited train and carousel rides and their choice of one medium-size pumpkin. Riders are encouraged to get into the Halloween spirit and wear costumes.
No reservations are needed and tickets can be purchased with cash or check at the train depot in Oak Meadow Park. All proceeds benefit the non-profit Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. Free parking is available along University Avenue or in the Vasona Park lot for a fee. The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad is located at 233 Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos.