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

SFMTA New Year's Eve Service - 31-December-2018

Bus Substitutions

Service on the F Market & Wharves historic streetcar line is provided by buses all day
Service on the Cable Cars is provided by buses after approximately 6 p.m.

SFMTA Season's Greetings - 21-December-2018

sfmta Christmas

Holiday greetings and transit information from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

The Big Event: Cable Car - 16-November-2018

San Francisco Chronicle reporters Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub, who earlier this year rode every Muni line in one day, interviewed Val Lupiz, Frank Zepeda and Jeremy Whiteman for a podcast.

Listen to it here.

East Cliff Railway in Bournemouth to Remain Closed - 16-November-2018

The Bournemouth Borough Council said it did not have the money to repair the East Cliff Lift, so it will remain closed. It was damaged by a landslide on 24-April-2016.

Cable Car Movie Shown on Salesforce Tower - 06-December-2018

Trip Down Market #6
The Sutter Street horse car is seen next to two outbound Market Street cable cars.

A newly restored version of the 1906 film "A Trip Down Market Street" was projected on the top floors of the new tallest building in San Francisco, the Salesforce Tower on 06- and 07-December-2018.

Cable Cars Pull In/Cable Car Museum Closed - 15-November-2018

The cable cars were ordered to puill in this afternoon because of unhealthy air quality caused by the Camp Fire in Butte County. The Cable Car Museum at Washington and Mason also closed today. The cable cars returned to service on Tuesday, November 20.

Cal Band Rides a Cable Car - 14-November-2018

The Cal Band was in San Francisco to promote the Big Game. They rode Blue and Gold Car 16.

Masks for Cable Car Crews - 11-November-2018

Because of the dangerous level of smoke from the tragic Camp Fire in Butte County, the SFMTA issued masks to cable car crews.

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.

News Archive

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2019 Anniversaries

150 years ago - 1869
Jul 03 - Charles T Harvey tested his West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway in New York City
May 10 - The Last Spike ceremony celebrated the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rails at Promontory Point, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the US

125 years ago - 1894
Jan 06 - San Francisco's Market Street Railway assigned sixteen former Howard Street Omnibus cars to McAllister line for the Midwinter Fair.
Jan 27 - San Francisco's California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 opened in Golden Gate Park.
Feb 11 - Manhattan's Third Avenue Railroad extended its Third Avenue line.
Feb 19 - San Francisco's Market Street Railway extended the Sacramento-Clay line from Walnut Street via Lake and 6th Avenue to D Street (Fulton) Golden Gate Park for the Midwinter Fair.
Feb 26 - San Francisco's Market Street Railway extended the Powell-Jackson and Ferries-Jackson lines to Golden Gate Park via the extended Sacramento-Clay line on Sundays and holidays for the Midwinter Fair.
May 16 - The Cable Tramway Company of Omaha converted to electric traction.
Jul 02 - San Francisco granted Adolph Sutro a franchise for the Sutro Railroad, which would connect Central Avenue with the Cliff House area, breaking the Market Street Railway's monopoly.
Jul 04 - San Francisco's California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 closed with San Francisco Day.
Jul 04 - San Francisco's Market Street Railway stopped extending the Powell-Jackson and Ferries-Jackson lines to Golden Gate Park via the extended Sacramento-Clay line on Sundays and hoidays.
Sep 19 - A cable tramway begam running between King and Ocean Streets, Sydney, Australia.
Dec 04 - A Southern Pacific local train crossing Broadway struck a cable car of the Oakland Cable Railway, killing 22 year old teacher Miss Mae Coates.
Dec 06 - Manhattan's Metropolitan Street Railway opened its Columbus Avenue line.

New York Giants record: 88-44, 2nd place. Manager: Monte Ward.

100 years ago - 1919
Jan 09 - The Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway, a funicular, was abandoned.
Jul 01 - The Edinburgh Corporation took over operation of the city's tramways and soon began to convert the cable lines to electric traction.

New York Giants record: 71-53, 2nd place. Manager: John McGraw.

75 years ago - 1944
Aug 15 - In San Francisco, Paramount premiered the movie I Love a Solder, starring Paulette Goddard and Sonny Tufts. The movie had largely been shot in the city

New York Giants record: 55-98, 8th place. Manager: Mel Ott.

50 years ago - 1969
Mar 22 - Lynda Johnson, President Lyndon Baines Johnson's daughter, was ordered off a cable car because she was eating an ice cream cone.
May 18 - Angels Flight in Los Angeles closed. It returned at a different location in 1996.

San Francisco Giants record: 88-74, 2nd place. Manager: Herman Franks.

25 years ago - 1994
Sep 15 - New Powell car No. 4 was placed into revenue service after a public welcoming ceremony at the Powell and Market turntable.

San Francisco Giants record: 103-59, 2nd place. Manager: Dusty Baker. Winning 100 and finishing second made for a frustrating year.

Anniversaries Archive

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What's New

  • 01-January-2019
  • 01-December-2018
    • Picture of the Month: The Emporium, a now gone-but-not-forgotten department store across the street from the turntable at Powell and Market used to sponsor a yearly Christmas parade. Muni would decorate cable car 504 Santa's sleigh. Santa would ride down Powell Street in his sled atop the roof. That must have been a thrilling ride. Here we see "conductress" Mary Ball and "Jimin-E," an Emporium employee on the back platform. (source: Trolley Topics, December, 1950).
    • With Christmas coming, it's a good time to visit the late Joe Lacey's article Christmas on the Cables (20th anniversary this year), and the Decorated Cable Cars page. Added list of cars decorated for Christmas, 2018.
    • On Walter Rice's A Photo Album of 1970s Cable Car Supporters: Added a Hughes Airwest advertisement car card from the cable car centennial.
    • Added News item about a podcast interview with Val Lupiz, Frank Zepeda and Jeremy Whiteman
    • Added News and Chronology items about cable car crews being issued masks because of smoke from a fire in Butte County and then the cars being taken off the street and the Cable Car Museum being closed because of unhealthy air quality
    • Added News and Chronology items about the Cal Band riding a Blue and Gold cable car to promote the Big Game.
    • On the UK page: Updated the status of the East Cliff Railway in Bournemouth in the Cliff Lifts article. Added News story about the current situation.
    • On the Cable Car Lines in Colorado page: An update about the current status of the Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway, a cog railroad
    • Archived September 2018 What's New.
  • 01-November-2018
    • Picture of the Month: At the corner of Fillmore and Broadway, Fillmore Hill counterbalance car 623 waits for passengers to transfer from a 22-Fillmore streetcar before it plunges down the hill. Photo circa 1940. (Source: OpenSFHistory / wnp37.04185.jpg). (source: The Scientific America, January 27, 1894).
    • On the San Francisco page: A ten and twenty year update on San Francisco's Fillmore Hill Counterbalance
    • On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: A note about the movie La La Land, which includes a scene shot on Angels Flight while it was out of service.
    • Archived August 2018 What's New.

What's New Archive

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Ten and Twenty Years Ago

Ten Years Ago

Twenty Years Ago

  • 01-Jan-1999
  • 14-Dec-1998
    • Added "Christmas on the Cables" by Joe Lacey to the SF page.
  • 01-Dec-1998
    • Picture of the Month: "A Sunday Load".
    • Add excerpts from article "The Parks of San Francisco" and "A Sunday Load" picture to the SF Miscellany section
    • Add California & Powell accident to news & bibliography
    • Fix some typos
  • 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.

Ten and Twenty Years Ago Archive

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

Copyright 1996-2019 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-January-2019