The Pyzak Ranch and Santa Teresa Park
View along San Iganacio Avenue of the open field next to the Pyzak Ranch property. The historic Pedro Bernal House is behind the field, with the Santa Teresa Park Hills in the background.
1,688-acre Santa Teresa County Park takes up most of the Santa Teresa Hills from Cottle Road to Bayliss Drive. The most historically significant part of the park, and one of the most historically significant sites in the Bay Area, is the area around the Joice Bernal Ranch and Santa Teresa Springs. This is the Santa Teresa Historical District and is where pioneering settler Jose Joaquin Bernal settled in 1826, establishing 9,647-acre Rancho de Santa Teresa. He named the Rancho and springs after Saint Teresa of Avila, after hearing the Ohlone legend of a black-robed woman who appeared to the Indians at the site of the springs. Bernal attributed the legend to Saint Teresa, patron saint of healing, whose name now appears all over this part of San Jose. The Bernal family and their relatives lived and ranched in this area until the late 20th century. The city of San Jose and suburbs eventually took over much of the rancho lands on the valley floor, but remnants of its ranching history are still preserved in the Joice Bernal Ranch, soon to open as an interpretive center, and in the houses built by the descendents of Joaquin Bernal. One of these houses is the Pedro Bernal House, built by the great-grandson of Joaquin Bernal. The house is across from Bernal Intermediate School and is being used as a ranger's residence. Another is the house still in private hands, built by the Bernals, but is now known as the Pyzak House. The house and the surrounding property are up for sale. The property is a ranch, with facilities for horses. As seen on the map above, this ranch is a finger of private property extending into Santa Teresa Park. The Friends of Santa Teresa Park are hopeful that this will become part of Santa Teresa County Park. Because of its location and history, it would be a valuable addition to the park. It is a logical addition to the historical properties in the Santa Teresa Historical District that are protected by being inside Santa Teresa Park. The purpose of this page is to familiarize the public with this location and the surrounding parkland. (See here for more on the history of Santa Teresa Park.)
Pictures(Click on the thumbnails below for a larger picture, then hit the Back button on your browser to return):
Below are views from the trails in the hills of Santa Teresa Park. The first two are from the Joice Trail. The next two are from the Bernal Hill Loop Trail. The last is from Bernal Road. The view from the hills provides a grand perspective of South San Jose. The Santa Teresa Historical District lies at the base of the steep, grass-covered Santa Teresa Hills like a narrow beach, with a sea of suburban development beyond. Several decades ago, this view would have shown orchards of fruit trees, whose blossoms inspired the naming of Blossom Valley. Now, the only sizeable orchard left is on IBM's property. The Santa Teresa Historical District is one of the last remnants of the heritage of what was once called the Valley of the Heart's Delight, now known as the Silicon Valley.
Here are closer views of the Pyzak Ranch and surrounding parkland:
This is a view across Curie and the Pyzak driveway to the Bear Tree Lot, which is part of Santa Teresa Park and is open to the public. The hills in the background, which are also part of Santa Teresa Park, are above the Joice Bernal Ranch and Santa Teresa Springs.
This is the historical marker at the Bear Tree Lot. It describes the Santa Teresa Historical District and the activities that went on here in the 19th century. The large oak tree in the background was used for bull-and-bear fights in the 1800's. Bull-and-bear fights were a common event during rodeos, which were popular and vital forms of entertainment in those days. The lot also contains an Indian burial ground. The neighbors have reported finding Indian remains and seeing mysterious apparitions in this area.
This open field at the corner of Curie Drive and San Ignacio Avenue, looking towards Bernal Intermediate School is county park property, though it is not currently open for public use. The wooden fence on the right is the boundary of Pyzak's property.
This is a view looking south down San Ignacio at Curie towards Santa Teresa Park. The open field is in the foreground. The house in the background is the Pedro Bernal House. San Ignacio curves to the left and turns into Heaton Moore. Along Heaton Moore is Brockenhurst Drive and the entrance to the former Buck Norred Ranch, now part of Santa Teresa Park and where a mounted ranger patrol station is in the works.
This is a view looking west down Curie at San Ignacio across the open field to the fence at the east edge of the Pyzak property. Curie Drive narrows down along this stretch, which is just before Bernal School, making commuting to school by bicycle along Curie hazardous for Bernal students. There is also no sidewalk on the south side of the street, requiring pedestrians to cross over to the north side.
The Pedro Bernal House, across San Ignacio from Bernal School, is now County Parks property and is a park ranger's residence. Immediately behind it is the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, which has been designated by the city of San Jose as a potential recreational trail, but is currently closed to the public. Behind that are the hills of Santa Teresa Park.
For more information or to voice your opinion about the
purchase of the Pyzak Ranch property by Santa Clara County to turn it
into parkland, contact Santa Clara
County District 1
Supervisor Donald Gage. For concerns about the surrounding San Jose
neighborhood, contact San Jose District 2
City Councilmember Forrest Williams.
Created 9/11/2001 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the
Friends of Santa Teresa Park