This article, from The San Francisco Examiner, Wednesday, February 24, 1897,
describes an accident between an Ellis Street electric car
and a Powell Street cable car, both operated by the
Market Street Railway.
Edward Payson Vining had been the widely hated general manager of the Market Street Railway since 1894.
Note that the open section of each car is referred to as the "dummy."
The headline and image from an article in the 24-February-1897 San Francisco Examiner.
From the San Francisco Call /
Wednesday, February 24, 1897. Page 1.
NO FLAGMAN FOR WARNING.
Serious Casualties Due to
The Brakes Being Ineffectual
Passengers Were Injured in
a Street-Car Wreck.
Southbound Powell-Street Car
Demolished by an Ellis-Street
PASSENGERS RENDERED INSENSIBLE.
Without Warning Mrs. R. L. Cooper and
Edward Bert Were Hurled into the
Wreck of the Collision.
AN ELECTRIC AND A CABLE
CAR CRASHED TOGETHER AT
ELLIS AND POWELL STREETS
YESTERDAY. THERE WAS NO
FLAGMAN TO GIVE WARNING,
ALTHOUGH MANAGER VINING
HAS BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION
TO STATION ONE THERE. THE
BRAKES WERE FRANTICALLY
APPLIED, BUT THESE APPLIANCES
AND WORTHLESS IN EMERGENCIES
COULD NOT AVERT THE
DISASTER. A WRECK, A PANIC,
AND SERIOUS CASUALTIES
Two people were seriously injured at the crossing of Ellis and Powell streets yesterday
morning as a result of a collision between an east-bound electric car of the
Ellis-street line and a south-bound Powell-street cable car. The accident occurred a
few minutes after 11 o'clock.
Car 406 of the Powell-street line was on its way to the Market-street terminus. It
was moving at a speed of about six miles an hour. There were about a dozen
passengers on the car, four of whom occupied seats on the dummy. The car was
crossing the Ellis-street track when car 557 of the Ellis-street trolley system came in
sight. It was coming east toward Powell street at a high rate of speed. There were
fourteen people on the car, several of them being seated on the forward dummy.
The gripman of the cable car applied his brakes when he saw that a collision was
inevitable. The motorman of the electric car also put on the brakes, but the
appliances would not hold. The electric car struck the cable car with a terrific smash.
The forward portion of the trolley car crashed into the dummy of the cable car,
wrecking it completely.
The collision threw several of the cable-car passengers to the street with great
violence. Several passengers on the electric car jumped before the crash came and
thereby saved themselves.
Edward Bert, a cashier for Harlan & Co., bookmakers, and Mrs. R. L. Cooper were
picked up by witnesses of the accident, assisted by the carmen. There were both
unconscious. Blood flowed from numerous wounds about their heads and hands.
Mrs. Cooper was taken into Joy's drug store, at the corner of Powell and Market
streets. Medical aid soon brought her back to consciousness.
Mr. Bert appeared to be the more seriously injued. He was picked up unconscious
and removed to Hilbert's store on the corner of Ellis and Powell streets. Dr.
Marc Levingston, who was standing on the corner when the collision occurred, attended
the injured passenger. He found after an examination the the victim's left arm had
been fractured. He also sustained several severe lacerations on the head and face.
His back was also badly wrenched. Fears are entertained that there are internal
injuries, as Mr. Bert had several hemorrhages. He was sent to his home at 209 1/2 Powell
street, where he now lies in a precarious condition. He is attended by two other
Policeman Hayden had Mrs. Cooper removed to her home at 1325 Powell street.
Dr. Ford, who was summoned, ascertained that his patient was suffering from severe
injuries to her spine. There were also several lacerations on her head and face, which
were swollen to unusual size. Her nasal bone weas also injured, and they may possibly
be a fracture.
Several other passengers were hurled from the car, but they were more fortunate
than Mr. Bert and Mrs. Cooper. and escaped without any wounds. A lady who
refused to give her name was taken to Joy's drug store. She was hysterical and
otherwise suffering from the shock.
The passengers on the cable car say that the motorman of the electric car tried
to prevent the accident, but the car was going too fast down the grade and the brakes
did not hold. Henry Hilbert, a clerk in a liquor store at 101 Powell Street, was a
passenger on the Ellis-street car. He stated last night that the electric car was
running very fast, owing to the fact that it was about six minutes behind time.
Another car was close behind and the motorman of the forward car was trying to make
up the time. Hilbert was standing on the steps on the front end of the electric car.
When he saw that a wreck was imminent he jumped and thereby saved himself. Both
cars were considerably damaged. The Powell-street car got the worst of the
collision. Mr. Bert is an uncle of Senator Eugene F. Bert
It was a miracle that no one was killed among the cable car passengers. Had the
collision taken place a moment sooner than it did some life on right hand side of
the cable car dummy might have been sacrificed, because the bumper of the electric
car would have struck in the midst of seven or eight people. One or two inside the car
were cut by broken pieces of glass from the windows. The railroad officials had
the injured ones spirited away in hacks a few minutes after the accident and then
tried to suppress the facts about the matter as much as possible.
This is not the first collision of the kind at Ellis and Powell streets. A great many
cable and electric cars pass that crossing every day until midnight, and
it is said General Manager Vining has had permission for some time to station a
flagman there, but has preferred not to do so in carrying out his ideas of economy.
Go to top of page.