Train bells are ringing while whistles blow in Danville as Museum of the San Ramon Valley celebrates old railroads that crisscrossed the county.
On view through Aug. 19, "Before BART" showcases the electric railroad versions that linked the San Ramon Valley to Oakland, Antioch and San Francisco until 1957. In 1913, the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern (OAE) railroad opened 85 miles of electric service, traveling through Redwood Peak Tunnel to various parts of East County, including Walnut Creek, Concord and Danville.
Dubbed "millionaires' specials," OAE passengers would take day trips to a new country club at the southern base of Mount Diablo. Constructed by Robert N. Burgess, Mount Diablo Park Club opened in 1916 and featured a club house, lake, tennis courts and golf course.
Electric trains eventually lost out to more versatile cars and trucks, though modern BART trains roll along the same track way. In addition to seldom seen artifacts and video of local "iron horses," various model railroad sets will be on display. On view through Aug. 7 is a G-scale model of the Diablo Pacific Short Line.
The Museum of the San Ramon Valley is located at 205 Railroad Avenue in Danville. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. 1 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the museum website.