Oakmead - Historic Photographs
No photos of the Oakmead station are known to exist at this time.
No trace of Oakmead Farms, where the Oakmead Fire Department was located, exists in any form today other than in name: "Oakmead Parkway" runs through a large business park where the farms were located, in Sunnyvale near the border of the city of Santa Clara, north of the Central Expressway. With over half a century of development in place, there is no way to find the old fire station's location.
Oakmead Farms was located on the northeast corner of Lawrence Road and the Bayshore Highway (now US 101) (map location approximate). The station was located near the center of the property with the entrance east off Lawrence.
When the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District was established in 1947, one of its stations was based at the Oakmead Farms, a farm owned by the United Cigar Company that bred race horses. According to retired Assistant Chief Jim Ackley, the first firefighter hired by the new department, the 'station' was in one room on the ground floor of a water tank, and when responding to an alarm it was necessary to drive almost three miles before reaching the edge of the ranch at Lawrence Station Rd. In addition, the ranch foreman didn't like the fire engine driving too fast because it scared the horses. The station had a small bedroom and a living area, with room to sleep only one person.
from the collection of Jim Ackley
Engine 1, an FMC high-pressure rig, at Oakmead Farms, 1949. This photo was taken from the department's 1949 annual report.
After approximately two years, the fire station had to relocate to the new Santa Clara Valley Airport which was in existance from 1949 until 1955 in what is now the "Fairwood side" of Lakewood Village in the city of Sunnyvale. The station remained at the airport for approximately a year, in hanger space donated by Arthur Monte, until 1950 when the Jefferson station was built. At this time the airport station was closed and all equipment and personnel transferred to the new station. In addition to the fire station, the airport had a mechanic's shop and a small office.
This aerial photograph, looking roughly west, shows the Santa Clara Valley Airport and the undeveloped area around it, circa early 1950s. Oakmead Farms is the farm just above and to the right of the airstrip, below (east of) Lawrence Station Rd. The station would probably have been located in the cluster of buildings just to the right (north) of the runway.
View from the east: Bayshore Freeway (US 101) on left, top to bottom. San Jose is below bottom of photo.
According to the Abandoned & Little Known Airfields website, the airport had a 3000' (915 M) hard surface runway. The above scan is from a 1953 USGS topological map, showing four buildings. By 1955, the runway had been reduced to 2100' (640 M).
View from the north: Bayshore Freeway runs from top right (north) to center left. San Jose is to left of photo. The building in the center is most likely where the fire engine was housed. This photo appears to have been taken earlier than the two above, based on the lack of hangers.
View from the southeast: on final approach. Note that the Bayshore Freeway is only two lanes each way, and very close to the end of the runway.