The Millennium Trails project is a public/private partnership with the goal of connecting every urban and rural community in America through a network of Millennium Trails. The program also seeks to help residents understand and celebrate the history and culture of the region, especially timely as the City of Santa Clara celebrates its Sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary in 2002.
Although El Camino Real is famous for its role as the connection among the mission of Spanish California, the four-mile-long Alameda corridor was considered a superior road to travel and is also historically significant. The Alameda was originally built in 1799 by Father Magin Catala and the neophyte Indians of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis. During the Gold Rush, stagecoaches ran on The Alameda between San Jose and Santa Clara, and in 1862 it became one of the first toll roads - 10 cents for buggies and $1 for stages.
When horse-drawn cars were introduced on a narrow-gauge railroad line in 1868, The Alameda became the West's first interurban horse car line. Another innovation occurred on The Alameda in 1888 when the first electric trolley line in California was added to that stretch of road.
The portion of The Alameda that bisected the Santa Clara University campus was closed to traffic in the 1980s and turned into a pedestrian mall. The remaining portion of The Alameda is still a highly-traveled thoroughfare between Santa Clara and San Jose.
The City of Santa Clara was selected as one of the Millennium Communities in the U.S. in 2000. The recognition of The Alameda as a Millennium Trail continues the City's interest in supporting the Millennium theme of "honoring the past . . . imaging the future." In addition to the White House Millennium Council, the Millennium Trails project is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Park Service, and the American Hiking Society, among other federal agencies, national organizations and private companies.