Collision at Jones and Ellis - a 1902 Newspaper Article
Collected by Joe Thompson

This article, from The San Francisco Call, Sunday, March 16, 1902, describes an accident between a Jones Street Shuttle car of the California Street Cable Railroad and an Ellis Street electric car of the newly formed United Railroads of San Francisco. March, 1902 was the month when the Market Street Railway became the URR. Both of the electric cars involved in the accident were single truck, double-ended cars built by John Hammond in San Francisco.

accident headline
accident images
The headline and full set of images from an article in the 16-March-1902 San Francisco Call. Newspaper layouts in the early Twentieth Century were often very creative.

From the San Francisco Call / Sunday, March 16, 1902. Page 29.


Passenger Vehicle on Cable Road Obstructs One Speeding Electric Car and Then Crashes Into Another.

Four persons were injured shortly before 6 o'clock last night at the corner of Ellis and Jones Streets in a collision in which car 54 of the Jones-street branch of the California Street Railway Company was the offender and cars 558 andd 562 of the Ellis-street line of the Market Street Railway Company were concerned. All three cars were more or less damaged, but the Jones-street car came out of the collision in worst shape.

It is the habit of the conductors and gripmen on what is popularly known as the "dinkey" branch of the, California-street line to make as quick time between terminal points as the exigencies of the service will permit. The accident in this instance was probably due to this fact.

The westbound cars of the Ellis-street line have the right of way. Car 54 of the Jones-street line, in charge of Gripman William Miller and Conductor R. H. Turhbell, dashed on to the intersection of Jones and Ellis streets as car 558 of the Ellis-street line, in charge of T. L. Weber, motorman, and John Bertleson, conductor, approached.

The Jones-street car came to a sudden stop and the Ellis-street car struck it on the end and threw it off the track, breaking the grip. Efforts were made at once to push the car ahead, and by the assistance of volunteers it was run some distance up the street, in order that it might be hauled to the carhouse.

Car Breaks Loose.

While the conductor and gripman of car 54 were endeavoring to get it into shape it started down the grade, and a few seconds later crashed into westbound car 562 of the Ellis-street line, as that car stopped to let off some passengers. Car 562 was in charge of Conductor O. E. Alley and Motorman W. H. Heuston. Both say the Jones-street car came upon them so suddenly that they had no time to avoid the collision.

Car 562 was crowded with passengers. There were a number of boys on the rear end of car 54, and many of them jumped off. Roy Fowzer of 1148 Market street, stayed with the car and as a result was badly injured. He held on to the rail, which bumped into the forward end of car 562, and had two of his fingers badly crushed and his shoulder blade broken.

The passengers In car 562 fared worse. C. L. Harvey, a medical student living at 1321 Devisadero street, was struck on the right leg, which was broken in two places. J. W. Dlsbrow, a painter living at 1107 Page street, was cut about the head and also suffered a dislocation of the left clavicle. F. Barr, a rigger, living at 1210 Stanyan street, who was holding on to the stanchion, had his fingers badly crushed.

Is Thrown Off Track.

When the collision occurred car 54 was thrown, off the track. The glass in both cars was broken and the end of car 54 was so badly damaged and its running gear so disarranged that it was necessary to send it to the California-street carhouse for repairs.

Harvey was taken into Clough's drugstore, at the corner of Ellis and Jones streets, where his leg was set by Doctors Zobel and Himmelsbach. Harvey said he did not know how it happened, except that the Jones-street car came crashing into the Ellis-street car and before he could get out of his seat he was struck by the rear rail and was pinioned to his seat until the car was pulled away.

Disbrow says he had no warning of the disaster. He was standing near where Harvey was sitting and was struck by the car. His ear was cut and he felt a soreness in his shoulder. When he was removed to the Emergency Hospital. Dr. Bunnell found that his shoulder was dislocated

Little Roy Fowzer, as soon as he was hurt, ran down Ellis street to Taylor and down Taylor to Eddy street. In front oŁ Smith's drug store he had to give up, but he was able to tell where he lived and his parents were notified. He was taken to the Emergrency Hospital and Dr. Bunnell put his shoulder into shape, besides dressing his bruised fingers and patching up a number of lacerations on his scalp.

Barr continued on his way home as soon as the track was cleared.

Much Damage Is Done.

Car 54 was in a very dilapidated condition. The roof and rail around the platform were demolished, the grip broken and every pane of glass in it was shattered. Car 653 came out of the collision with slight injuries, but car 562 was forced to go to the car shed for repairs. It was damaged nearly as much as car 54.

To the careless manner in which the Jones-street cars are run the accident is due, it is claimed.

Peter D. Hennessey, who was a passenger on car 562, says that it was the carelessness of the gripman and conductor of car 54 In leaving their car on the grade on Jones street that caused the second accident. He said: "When I first saw the car the men were trying to catch the cable. It suddenly started off and came down the hill and bumped Into us. I jumped in time to save myself, but the others did not seem to realize the danger."

After more than an hour's hard work both tracks were cleared. While the blockade lasted the Ellls-street cars were sent out over the Eddy-street line.


C. L. HARVEY, 1321 Devisadero street, double fracture of right leg.

J. W. DISBROW, 1107 Page street, lacerated wound right ear and dislocation of clavicle.

ROY FOWZER (boy), fracture right clavicle, lacerated wound right ear.

F. BARR, 1210 Stanyan street, crushed fingers.

From the San Francisco Call / Thursday, July 14, 1904. Page 4.

This brief item describes the settlement of a lawsuit relating to the accident.

Damage Suit Comprimised.

Charles L. Harvey, a young man, who had his leg so badly crushed in a collision of Jones and Ellis street cars on March 15, 1902, as to necessitate amputation of that member, yesterday compromised his suit for damages for $7000. The motion for compromise was made through the boy's father, Peter Harvey, and Garret McEnerney was his attorney. The original suit was for $50,000 damages against the California Street Cable Railroad Company and the Market Street Railway Company, together with the motormen and conductors of the colliding cars. Harvey was a dental student and because of his loss of a leg was prevented from continuing his studies or practicing the profession.

accident detail
An image from the 16-March-1902 San Francisco Call shows the scene of the accident at Jones and Ellis Streets. On the left is the platform of the single-truck Jones Street shuttle cable car. On the right is a larger electic car, presumably 563. January, 2018 Picture of the Month

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Last updated 01-January-2018