Just above the Silicon Valley is an area you could call the iron mountains. West of San Jose, patches of land in the hills near Saratoga, California are covered with sky-scraping redwood trees. It’s a place you expect would be full of techies on carbon fiber mountain bikes with solar-powered cellphone boosters, but as you wind through the hills you come to places with no wifi signal, and it was in one of those coves that we came across a bonanza of moss-covered machinery.
We’d booked a room at the Redwood Caboose, an AirBnB made out of an antique train caboose. The caboose is part of a collection of train and tractor parts hauled up the mountain by a retired dentist named Pat. Back in the 1970s Pat called the train company to inquire about purchasing an old way car. “Sure,” said the lady on the phone. “How many do you want?” Pat bought two, and they’ve served as playthings for his kids and housing for his friends. Along with the traincars, Pat has a few hit-and-miss engines, a Case tractor and various small construction vehicles in various states of running and decay. “Sometimes I just get a need for something,” he told us, gesturing to a 20hp Fairbanks-Morse stationary engine.
Pat obviously wasn’t the only person on the mountain with a collector’s eye. As we wandered the trails we found an overgrown hilltop littered with VW vans, Dodge trucks, a big Lincoln, dirtbikes, and home appliances. It looked like a parking lot in 1978 had tumbled down a cliff and everything had been left where it fell. So, basically, Roadkill heaven.
Later we asked Pat about his car-collecting neighbor. “Oh, him,” he said. “He can’t turn down anything free and interesting, so it all ends up on his property.” Then he whistled to his dog Gus, and the two of them walked up the hill, under the disco ball, past the suit of armor, and towards the cabin past the steel dinosaur.
Wanna stay at Pat’s place? Caboose in the Redwoods
Wanna see all the stuff in the woods? Click through the gallery below.