The genesis of the organization now known as the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation (CTRC) was in 1982 at the American Public Transit Association conference in Seattle, WA when then Santa Clara County Supervisor and Transit Board Chair Rod Diridon observed Seattle's historic waterfront trolleys in operation. After 9 years of arduous planning and the approval of a master plan and taxes, the County of Santa Clara had just signed a full funding grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation for construction of the Guadalupe Corridor light rail line. Diridon, the chair of the Guadalupe Project Board, felt a historic component would promote community enthusiasm and give the project a heart.
A meeting was called with community leaders, including the publisher of the newspaper, owner of the cable television systems, presidents of local public utilities, a principle building contractor, and others to discuss the concept. In early 1983, the San Jose Trolley Corporation (SJTC) was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit California corporation with a Board of Directors that included many prime community leaders. Diridon was elected President of the Board and has continued to serve in that capacity.
A nation-wide executive search for a General Manager / Master Car Builder yielded Fred Bennett of New Jersey, who continued to serve in that capacity until April 2004 when, in ill health, he moved back to New Jersey to be with his family. The Associated General Contractors of Santa Clara County, with the assistance of other local construction leaders, created a replica of a historic trolley barn, and later over a mile of electrified trolley track, at the large City of San Jose Kelley Park and Historical Museum grounds. Bays for six historic trolleys were created and machine tools, forklifts, and other equipment and materials including dilapidated historic trolleys were donated by historic trolley devotees from as far away as Milan, Italy and Melbourne, Australia.