Thursday, August 23, 2012
El Camino Real Bell
In 1906, an effort was initiated to commemorate El Camino Real with the placement of 85-pound bells along the state highway. These distinctive bells were hung on supports in the form of a shepherd’s crook. By the 1960s, most of the original 450 bells had disappeared due to theft, vandalism or re-routing of the roadways.
Toward the end of the twentieth century, preservation organizations and individuals renewed a state-wide effort of marking El Camino Real with new bells and crook supports. Utilizing an original 1906 bell as a pattern, the newer versions are still being cast by the California Bell Company, headquartered in Saratoga. A video of the company’s casting process may be found here.
The museum’s bell is adjacent to the Trolley Barn and near the Phelan Avenue gate entrance. Utilizing this marker, the El Camino Real story will be integrated into our Historic Transportation Education program, enlightening school aged children about this portion of California’s heritage.