The Cable Car Home Page

The Cable Car Home Page

by Joe Thompson

The Cable Car Home Page

I want to use this site to share my knowledge about and interest in cable cars (also known as cable tramways). I want to keep it simple. I welcome input from any source, especially about cable cars in cities other than San Francisco. I hope to build this page up gradually as time permits. I welcome information, photographs, and suggestions.

Where Should I Go from Here? Visit the Map


The Cable Car Home Page
1996 -- The Cable Car Home Page - 20 Years -- 2016

November, 2016 was the 20th anniversary of this website.
I wish I had written down the date I started it.

Read "It Was 20 Years Ago Today," an article about where I have been and where I am going with the site.

The Cable Car Home Page


Cal Cable 42
2018 Muni Heritage Weekend

The 2018 Muni Heritage Weekend was held on September 8 and 9.
Cal Cable 62


Bell Ringing Contest
Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest

The 2018 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest has been cancelled.
Bell Ringing Contest


Tales From the Grip

Tales From the Grip
10 Years 2003-2013:
"Maybelle the Cable Car"

I am proud to be the host of gripman Val Lupiz's column: Tales From the Grip.

Special Update, December 2011: Maybelle the Cable Car.

Tales From the Grip

San Francisco's Octopus
San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893

San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893, a new book by Emiliano Echeverria, Michael Dolgushkin and Walter Rice, is now available as an Ebook on a DVD. I have written a small review.

San Francisco's Octopus


San Francisco Cable Cars

San Francisco Cable Cars

You will enjoy Strephon Taylor's new documentary San Francisco Cable Cars: "At over 140 years old, the San Francisco Cable Cars are a moving monument, a snapshot of nearly lost technology, a romance story, and the very heart of the City."

Read my Review.

Read about or see some other Cable Car Videos.


The Feel of the Rope
The Feel of the Rope
Reflections on Life at the San Francisco Cable Car Division

I can highly recommend Nick Tomizawa's dvd The Feel of the Rope: "a tribute to the men and women that carry on a San Francisco tradition that has continued for over 130 years. Through the words of employees past and present representing two generations of operators, managers, maintainers, trainers, and car builders, you will get an insider's look at what makes the cable cars the most unique transit system in the world."

Read my Review.

Read about or see some other Cable Car Videos.

The Feel of the Rope


Book Cover
Of Cables and Grips:
The Cable Cars of San Francisco
Second Edition

by Robert Callwell & Walter E. Rice, Ph.D.


The second edition of Of Cables and Grips: The Cable Cars of San Francisco -- not yet available in a print-and-paper book format -- is available on this web site.
Book Cover


Toy Cable Car

A detail view of the right-hand side of toy cable car 514, with an interesting variety of passengers. The lady in the yellow dress is in danger of a wardrobe malfunction. The man sitting in front of the gripman appears to be reading Life Magazine. See more collectible items on my Cable Car Kitsch page. See toys, magazine ads, and other new items.


Table of Contents


News

Powell/Mason Bus Substitution - 21-30-September-2018

Announcement from the SFMTA:

Mason Cable Car Bus Substitution: September 21-30, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018 - 10:00pm to Sunday, September 30, 2018 - 2:00am
Neighborhoods Affected
North Beach Russian Hill
Route(s) Affected
Powell/Mason Cable Car
Stops Affected
Taylor St & Francisco St (#16646)
Service Affected
Transit
Weekend Traffic and Transit Advisory

As part of the Cable Car Gearbox Rehabilitation Project, the Powell/Mason Cable Car will be temporarily replaced by a free shuttle bus. The shuttle bus will serve stops north of Washington. Transfer between the Powell/Hyde line and the Mason Shuttle Bus at Washington & Powell. In North Beach, the first stop is a temporary stop at Taylor & Francisco.
Note
Though the Mason Shuttle Bus is free, regular Cable Car fares apply to the Powell/Hyde line.

"Collecting cable car fares an uphill struggle" - 16-September-2018

An article in today's San francisco Chronicle says that auditors who rode San Francisco cable cars were not asked to pay 25% of the time. The article did not mention that a conductor's primary responsibility is safety.

2018 Muni Heritage Weekend - 08/09-September-2018

Newly rebuilt Powell Street car 23 and California Street Car 56 ran for the first time in revenue service, and restored O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde car 43 made its first revenue trips sincwe 1954 on the outer part of the Hyde Street line during Muni's Annual Heritage Weekend.

Dunedin Cable Tram Revival - 22-August-2018

Dunedin

Dunedin website Thanks to Mac Gardner for letting me know about the website of the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust and the High Street Cable Car Society, who are advancing a project with four steps to revive cable traction in Dunedin, New Zealand. Their website rolled out in August, 2018.

I am happy that the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust and the High Street Cable Car Society are advancing in the quest to restore part of the Mornington Tramway.

Mornington 111 Mornington Tramway restored trailer 111 being loaded on to a truck trailer for the trip to Dunedin (source: "Dunedin on the Up With Return of Historic Cable Cars," stuff.co.nz, 07-Jun-2018).

Providence Conduit Discovered - 24-July-2018

Providence Conduit Thanks to Bob Vennerbeck for sharing this photo of a conduit once used by the Providence Cable Tramway and/or the counterbalance that replaced the line on College Hill. All rights reserved.

Bob Vennerbeck let me know that he was walking around the College Hill district of Providence, Rhode Island when he was hailed by a crew

"Yesterday, I was hailed by a crew working on replacement water mains under College Street at Benefit Street - 'You're the historian - you know anything about these brick foundations under the street?'

"It seems they had unearthed a parallel pair of low brick walls about 2' high, with a smooth concrete slab about 3' wide between them, forming a U-shaped channel under the length of the street. The tops of the walls were about 2' below modern grade, and after the backfill was removed, a series of metal 'chairs' were found embedded either side of the slab, with bits of heavily greased mounting bolts scattered nearby."

I agreed with Bob that this was the channel that the counterbalance's counterweight ran through or the cable conduit of the Providence Cable Tramway.

Thank you to Bob for letting me present this find.

2018 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest Has Been Cancelled in Part - Updated 01-August-2018

The 2018 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest has been cancelled in part because the people of the Cable Car Division are protesting the SFMTA cutting late night hours on the California Street line.

I asked the SFMTA about the contest and got this response:
Dear Mr. Thompson,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding a date for the next Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. Unfortunately, we will not have a traditional bell ringing contest this year. Instead, we will be hosting some elements of the bell ringing event as part of Muni Heritage Weekend September 8-9. This event will activate the plaza area at Don Chee Way in front of the Market Street Railway Museum. We hope to return to the traditional event next year.

Sincerely,

Muni Customer Service

I asked the SFMTA and got this response:
Communications and Marketing

Dunedin Cable Tram Revival - 01-July-2018

Dunedin

Dunedin museum Thanks to Mac Gardner, here is a future view of the temporary museum being built near the former terminal of Dunedin's Mornington Line. It will display two cable trams and a trailer. All rights reserved. July, 2018 Picture of the Month.

This is an update of an article originally published in 2016. Thank you to Mac Gardner for providing the information.

The Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust and the High Street Cable Car Society are advancing a project with four steps to revive cable traction in Dunedin, New Zealand, the first and last city outside of San Francisco to have Hallidie-type cable car lines.

Step one is to build an Interim Cable Car Building in Mornington Park. This temporary museum would house two Dunedin cable trams and a trailer, the trailer from the Mornington Tramway and Two trams from the Roslyn Tramway. One of the Roslyn trams will be restored onsite. There will be tracks that extend outside so people can view one of the trams and climb on it. The work started in October, 2017.

The remaining steps would build a 1.5km line on the High Street with a terminal and powerhouse in the park. Original cable trams would be used as rolling stock.

An article from the 31-October-2016 Otago Daily Times.

I wish great success to the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust and the High Street Cable Car Society.

Total Muni 2018 - 30-April-2018

Total Muni 2018 Logo Design By John Blanchard / The Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Congratulations to Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle who accomplished the feat of riding every San Francisco Municipal Railway line -- cable car, streetcar and bus -- on one day. They could not ride the 76-Marin Headlands, which only runs on weekends.

They started on a 25-Treasure Island at 03:12am. I haven't ridden that bus yet.

At 06:00am, with the help of Val Lupiz and Jeremy Whiteman. they rode Powell Street car 24, still decorated to honor Willie Mays and the Giants' 60th year in San Francisco.

At the Ferry Building, they met San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, who did had same adventure with a friend in 1980. Giants' mascot Lou Seal was also there.

In 18 hours, they rode 60 lines.

Cable Car Cimena Closing - 27-April-2018

Cable Car Cinema Logo

The Cable Car Cinema and Cafe showed independent and foreign films at 204 South Main Street in Providence, Rhode Island from 1976 to 2018. Today it was announced that the Cinema is closing. It fell victim to the forces that have destroyed so many cinemas across the country.

Car 26 Becomes 526 - 14-April-2018

Powell Street car 26 ran for a special charter as 526, its number before 1973. Val Lupiz pulled grip.

Car 11 Debuts in Service - 12-April-2018

Powell Street car 11 made its debut after a rebuilding. It is now painted in Market Street Railroad red. Val Lupiz pulled grip.

Old Car 28 Going to Connecticut - 03-April-2018

28 pullin/2 Old Car 28 turns on the motorized turntable in the barn at Washington and Mason before being put away. A California Street car pulls in behind it. Car 28 would retire the next month. December 2003. Photo by Joe Thompson. May, 2018 Picture of the Month.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will donate former Powell Street car 28 to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut as part of a deal that brought two electric streetcars to San Francisco. Car 28 was built by Mahony Brothers for the Ferries and Cliff House Railway in 1887. It was an open car until it was rebuilt in 1912. It retired in January, 2004 and was replaced by the current car 28. There had been talk of restoring it to its orignal configuration as an open car.

Car 24 Decorated for Opening Day - 03-April-2018

opening day This logo celebrates the Giants' 60th anniversary in San Francisco.

Sixty years ago this year, the San Francisco Giants played their first game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Seals Stadium on 15-April-1958. The Giants moved from Manhattan and the Dodgers from Brooklyn during the offseason. Rubén Gómez started and beat Don Drysdale 8-0. The Giants are celebrating the anniversary this season.

To celebrate the anniversary, Val Lupiz and Jeremy Whiteman decorated Powell Street car 24, which was dedicated to Willie Mays, Number 24, on 06-May-2016. Many vintage streetcars carried flags for the event.

Visit the Val Lupiz Shop - 01-April-2018

Val Lupiz Shop

Gripman Val Lupiz, who is also a photographer with an excellent eye, has launched an online shop where he is selling some of his photographs:
https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/val-lupiz.html

Cable Cars’ Ding Goes For Your Wallet, Too - 26-March-2018

Cable cars ding

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight published an interesting column about how charging the full $7.00 adult fare makes it hard for some tourist families to ride the cable cars:
Cable Cars’ Ding Goes For Your Wallet, Too

I think a child or family fare would be a good idea, along with a transfer that would allow people to visit the museum at Washington and Mason without paying another full fare.

San Francisco History Days, 2018 - 03-04-March-2018

2018 History Expo

The annual San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint returns on March 03-04, 2018.

Western Neighborhoods Project New Home Open House - 03-February-2018

The Western Neighborhoods Project is having an open house between Noon and 4pm to show off its new home at 1617 Balboa Street, between 17th and 18th Avenues.

Isle of Man Horse Tramway 2018 Schedule Released - 17-January-2018

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2018 Timetable The cover of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2018 Timetable. (source: Isle of Man Railways)

Download the 2017 Isle of Man Horse Tramway Timetable.

We all owe a big thanks to the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, which has worked hard to keep the line intact. We all have to remain vigilant.

Read more about the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway on the Horse Car Home Page.

Cable Cars Honor Mayor Lee - 12-December-2017

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died suddenly this morning. The cable cars and all other San Francisco transit vehicles paused for one minute at noon in his memory.

SFMTA Threatens to Cut Cal Cable Late Night Service - 07-December-2017

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) wants to end service on the California Street line at 11:45pm instead of 1:00am. This would be a problem for San Francisco residents who work at the hotels and restaurants around the end of Market Street and live in areas reached by the cable cars. District Supervisor Aaron Peskin will fight the proposal. The change may not be legal because the city charter says that cable car must maintain 1971 levels as a minimum. There is a debate about what the hours of service were in 1971.

Car 22 Returns to Service - 28-November-2017

Powell Street car 22, one of the remaining 1887 Ferries and Cliff House cars, returned to service after rebuilding.

"Cable cars’ popularity takes huge hit with $7 fare" - 01-October-2017

A San Francisco Chronicle report by columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross states that cable car ridership fell by 25 percent between 2014 and 2016. They atrribute it to the $7 fare. "Muni spokesman Paul Rose said inconsistent service and long waiting lines may be causing people to turn away as well."

Cal Cable Shutdown - 22-September-2017

Cal Cable shutdown sign A sign at the California and Drumm terminal announces the shutdown. September, 2017.

Muni shut down the California Street cable line from 22-September-2017 to 29-September-2017 to replace the gearbox that drives the California Street cable. The old gearbox dated from the 1982-1984 Great Reconstruction.

Cal Cable shutdown sign/2 This sign stood in the center of the California and Drumm terminal. September, 2017.

New Muni Uniforms - 18-September-2017

Muni operators began to wear new gray uniforms, replacing the old brown uniforms. Jackets are black or high visibility yellow. The new uniforms are supposed to be more comfortable in hot or cold conditions.

Angels Flight Returns (Again) - 31-August-2017

CBS This Morning Angels Flight reopening mentioned on CBS This Morning. All rights reserved.

Angels Flight, the Los Angeles funicular returned to service on 31-August-2017. The line had been shut down since a derailment on 05-September-2013.

Animated Photos I took during our visit to Angels Flight, as an animated gif, courtesy of gifka.com.

Cable Cars Shut Down Because of Protests - 26-August-2017

Because of a planned white supremacist rally at Crissy Field in the Presidio, Mayor Ed Lee ordered the cable cars to be replaced by buses. All Muni lines in the Marina and Cow Hollow were shut down. This was inspired by the violence caused by Neo Nazis, Klansmen and other degenerates in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The degenerates cancelled Crissy Field, tried to go to Alamo Square, went briefly to Crissy Field, and somehow wound up in Pacifica. What did we poor Pacificans do to earn that?

San Francisco's Transportation Octopus - 13-August-2017

San Francisco's Octopus

San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893, a new book by Emiliano Echeverria, Michael Dolgushkin and Walter Rice, is now available as an Ebook on a DVD. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Update 01-December-2017:

I have written a small review.

California Street Inner Terminal Modified - 01-August-2017

58 and 51

I should have posted this in late May, but Muni has surrounded the inner terminal of the California Street line with a row of stanchions or posts. The ugly plastic barriers seen in the photo of cars 58 and 51 have finally gone away.

Angels Flight Takes Steps Forward - 01-July-2017

Angels Flight, which has been shut down since 05-September-2013 is scheduled to resume service by Labor Day.

Recent reports say that the cars and the stations have been repainted in primer white, and that construction has begun on the safety stairway, which is prerequisite to resume operation.

Isle of Man Horse Tramway Operations Resumed - 24-May-2017

The Isle of Man Horse Tramway resumed limited service after being suspended since 10-May-2017 because of a respiratory that affected the horses.

News Archive

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2018 Anniversaries

150 years ago - 1868
Jul 03 - Charles T Harvey tested his West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway in New York City

125 years ago - 1893
Jan 04 - The Oakland Cable Railway's horse-drawn Broadway/Telegraph Avenue line was converted to electric traction
Feb 20 - The failure of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway was one factor that led to the Panic of 1893, which damaged many cable car lines that relied on real estate promotions for traffic. The Panic, an economic depression, lasted until 1897
Feb 21 - A train of the Kansas City Cable Railway lost its grip on the great incline and ran away backwards. Five people were injured
Apr 14 - San Francisco's Ferries and Cliff House Railway sent Clay Street Hill Railroad grip car 8 and trailer 1 to the upcoming World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
Apr 29 - The Orange Mountain Cable Railway, a funicular in Orange, New Jersey, opened for service
May 01 - The World's Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago, providing increated business for all public transit companies in Chicago, but especially the Chicago City Railway
May 01 - The Denver Tramway Company's Broadway line was converted to electric traction
May 01 - In New York City, the Metropolitan Street Railway's Broadway line opened for service
May 06 - In New York City, a car of the Metropolitan Street Railway's Broadway line ran away
Jun 10 - Oakland's Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company converted its Piedmont Avenue line to electric traction
Jun 13 - The bankrupt Pacific Cable Railway (Los Angeles Cable Railway) was purchased at auction by the Consolidated Electric Railway
Jul 04 - The Mount Lowe Incline opened for service
Jul 06 - The Denver Tramway Company's Colfax Avenue and 15th Street lines were converted to electric traction
Jul 17 - In Sydney, the New South Wales Government Tramways extended its North Sydney line to Lane Cove Road (later Pacific Highway) at Crows Nest
Jul 23 - The Baltimore City Passenger Railway's Charles Street (Blue) and Gay Street (Red) lines opened for service
Aug 05 - San Francisco's Omnibus Railroad and Cable Company abandoned its Howard and 26th Street (blue) line
Aug 14 - San Francisco's Omnibus Railroad and Cable Company was taken over by the Market Street Railway
Aug 20 - The Baltimore City Passenger Railway's Madison Avenue (White) line opened for service
Aug 13 - The Southern Pacific Railroad formed San Francisco's Market Street Railway by combining all the cable car operating companies in the city except Sutter, California, Geary, and the Presidio and Ferries. It also included the Metropolitan Railroad, the second electric line in San Francisco.
Sep 01 - The Saint Paul City Railway's Seventh Street line was converted to electric traction
Oct 13 - The Consolidated Electric Railway was purchased by the Los Angeles Railway
Oct 30 - The World's Columbian Exposition closed in Chicago
Nov 01 - Oakland's Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company went into receivership. It was reorganized as the Piedmont and Mountain View Railway
Nov 05 - A train of the Chicago City Railway killed actor Daniel J Hart on State Street, near Jackson
Dec 04 - In New York City, the Third Avenue Railroad's Third Avenue line opened for service

New York Giants record: 68-64, 5th place. Manager: Monte Ward.

100 years ago - 1918
Feb 03 - San Francisco's Twin Peaks Tunnel opened
Nov 11 - Armistice Day

New York Giants record: 98-56, 1st place. Manager: John McGraw. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series 4 games to 2.

75 years ago - 1943
Oct 20 - The Court Flight, a funicular in Los Angeles, was damaged in a fire and went out of business

New York Giants record: 85-67, 3rd place. Manager: Mel Ott.

50 years ago - 1968
Jul 31 - Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey rode a cable car with Mayor Joe Alioto
Aug 22 - Jennifer (Foreman) de Grassi was named Miss Cable Car 1968

San Francisco Giants record: 91-71, 2nd place. Manager: Herman Franks.

25 years ago - 1993

San Francisco Giants record: 72-90, 5th place. Manager: Roger Craig.

Anniversaries Archive

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What's New

What's New Archive

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Ten and Twenty Years Ago

Ten Years Ago

Twenty Years Ago

  • 01-Nov-1998
    • Picture of the Month: Broadway, NY accident.
    • Add Broadway, NY picture and two Cal Cable wreck photos to How page
    • Add information about bells & brakes to the How page
    • Add thanks to Joe Lacey and quote him on bells on the How page
    • Add article about Fillmore Hill counterbalance to the SF Miscellany section
    • Add information about turntable helpers to news & bibliography
    • Add link to EHRA, replacing SF Online link
    • Add link to Rick Russel's The Trolley Stop and Seashore Trolley Museum pages.
  • 01-Oct-1998
  • 01-Sep-1998

Ten and Twenty Years Ago Archive

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This page has been referenced  many times since 01-March-2015.

Copyright 1996-2018 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-November-2018