Frontier Village Birdhouses
200 Edenvale Avenue,
San Jose, California
Did you know there use to be a wild west themed amusement park in San Jose? Inspired by his trip to Disneyland in 1959, Joseph Zukin, Jr built an entire western theme park on 33 acres in San Jose. Called Frontier Village, it was open from October 21st, 1961 until September 28th, 1980.
Although somewhat popular, and fairly well regarded, by the late seventies, San Jose had grown considerably and residential communities surrounding the park were against any expansion, often filing lawsuits against the place. As a result of pressure from newer competing parks such as nearby Great America, along with the fact that the land was now worth way more than profits from operating the park, Frontier Village was sold. Its final days were referred to as The Last Roundup and attracted 30,000 visitors per day, before closing at the end of September 1980. The new owner had a public auction in October and was able to offload the rides, buildings, and anything else of value.
Before closing, however, the amusement park had several of your typical amusement park rides ranging from a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a tilt-a-whirl, a scrambler like ride, an octopus / spider like ride, and later even a roller coaster. It also had a railroad that went around the park, plus canoes that could be paddled around the river and lake areas of the park. The park's Main Street had shootouts every hour, along with shops and eateries. Additionally, there was a petting zoo, stagecoach rides, reservable picnic areas, skeeball, archery, a theater, a trout fishing pond, and an area for birthday parties.
The main portion of the amusement park is now Edenvale Garden Park, a public park. Just west of Edenvale is a condo complex named in tribute, "Frontier Village".
Located in Edenvale Garden Park, however, are five birdhouses built in honor of Frontier Village. They are, or in some cases were, scale models of the original structures in the amusement park placed at the original location of the building. These include the Railroad Station, Main Entrance Log Towers, Old School House, Main Street, and the Mine Ride. Each is a miniature, scale reproduction of the original building, and is a fully functioning birdhouse as well. Each birdhouse is up on a pole about ten to 12 feet, with a plaque is attached to each pole showing historical photos and a description of the original amusement park building, as well as what type of bird is most likely to live in the house (Downy Woodpecker, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Western Bluebird, House Wren, and the Chestnut-backed Chickadee). The entire project was done by artist, Jon Rubin in April 2008.
Unfortunately, at some point the five birdhouses ended up deteriorating, having been exposed to a lot of wear and weather, and are now in horrible condition. Pieces of the buildings are missing (or the entire building in one case), and some of the posts have experienced damage. Many of the plaques have had graffiti drawn on them. The birdhouses sadly now need a full refresh and repair. In the middle of 2020, a Go Fund Me was organized and over $7,000 was raised in donations. However, when I visited on Labor Day of 2021, it appeared that nothing had happened yet with the birdhouses. They were still in terrible condition, badly needing repair. Hopefully, one day, these five birdhouses, with a lot of historical nostalgia to a long gone theme park, will one day get the care they need to be functioning birdhouses again.
I was able to find four out of the five posts, not sure if the fifth post, the Log Towers at the main entrance, is just missing or if I was just unable to locate it. Sadly, the Lost Dutchman Mine was completely missing its birdhouse, although the plaque was still present. The Main Street birdhouse was sadly missing half its buildings. The Railroad Station and Schoolhouse were still there and intact, but needed considerable work.
There is also apparently, located in the city park, some of the old log fence that was used to surround the Frontier Village amusement park. It appears to be fenced off and looks like old fort log posts.
You are currently standing at the site of the old Main Street. Families would stroll down the dusty road to find their favorite Frontier Village character, a hot dog, or the cotton candy stand. The General Store, Silver Dollar Saloon, Trading Post, and Marshal's Office all adorne this charming road, and the gunfighters held their legendary shoot-outs here.
These are some of the birds that will be living in the Frontier Village birdhouses throughout the park. This replica of old Main Street has entrance holes and cavities that are specially designed to attract Downy Woodpeckers.
The Old Railroad Station
An ornate Victorian train station was once located here, greeting visitors of Frontier Village. The Railroad cars made their journey around the park, treating fans to the sights of the Canoe and Burro Rides, the Badlands, Ferris wheel and the Spirit of Kitty Hawk. Riders would often be treated to a shoot-out with members of the Gunfighters Gang.
These are some of the birds that will be living in the Frontier Village birdhouses throughout the park. This replica of The Old Railroad Station has entrance holes and cavities that are specially designed to attract Western Bluebirds.
The One-Room Schoolhouse
Nestled in the high ground of Frontier Village, the little red schoolhouse welcomed visitors to go back in time to see how children of the Old West went to school. Old-fashioned desks with working inkwells adorned the little classroom. The park went to great lengths to recreate the fine details, including an original school bell that was used at the New Almaden School on the hill from the 1870's to the end of operations and donated to the village by the Almaden Museum.
These are some of the birds that will be living in the Frontier Village birdhouses throughout the park. This replica of The One-Room Schoolhouse has entrance holes and cavities that are specially designed to attract House Wrens.
Lost Dutchamn Mine
This was once the site of the Lost Dutchman Mine ride. As eerie music floated through the air, adults and kids alike zigzagged their way through a mazy of scary stalactites, whirlpools, falling rocks, skeletons of old timers and and old miner setting off a dynamite charge at the end of the ride. The mine ride was also the backdrop for the always-stocked trout fishing pond.
These are some of the birds that will be living in the Frontier Village birdhouses throughout the park. This replica of The Lost Dutchman Mine has entrance holes and cavities that are specially designed to attract Chestnut-backed Chickadees.
The Entrance Forts
The main entrance was built to resemble the gates of an early western frontier fort. The bottom of the forts housed the ticket booths and visitor information. Guests could take a stroll up the stairs of the forts and be treated to a wonderful view of the park.
These are some of the birds that will be living in the Frontier Village birdhouses throughout the park. This replica of The Entrance Forts has entrance holes and cavities that are specially designed to attract White-breasted Nuthatches.
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- Secret San Jose (2020) by Kifer, Cassie, p: 64 - 65
First Created: 2022-01-20
Last Edited: 2022-01-20