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 25 Years
1996 -- The Cable Car Home Page - 25 Years -- 2021

November, 2021 will be the 25th anniversary of this website.
I wish I had written down the date I started it.

The Cable Car Home Page 25 Years

San Francisco's Octopus
Hand Colored Transit Images
Presented by Emiliano Echeverria

Thanks to Emiliano Echeverria for letting me present a series of photos that were hand-colored by Charles Smallwood

San Francisco's Octopus


Cal Cable 42
2020 Muni Heritage Weekend Postponed

The 2020 Muni Heritage Weekend planned for August 22-23 is being postponed until Spring, 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. #TrumpVirus
Cal Cable 62


Bell Ringing Contest
Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest

Byron Cobb won the 2019 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest on Thursday, October 10 at Noon in Union Square. This was his eighth victory.

The 2020 contest has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. #TrumpVirus

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 green plastic toy cable car poses on its box. See more collectible items on my Cable Car Kitsch page. See toys, magazine ads, and other new items.

Table of Contents


News

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-January-2021

Current Tier Assignments

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late December, over 19 million Americans had been infected and over 333,000 had died. More than 3,000 Americans die each day.

Cable cars remain out of service, but cars have been on display at Powell and Market and Hyde and Beach on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The cables have operated and some cars have run for testing.

Muni returned the J-Church line to rail on 19-December-2020, but had trains turn back at Church and Market.

In December, two COVID-19 vaccines received emergency approval, and started to be distributed around the country.

Plans to Revise the Cal Cable Outer Terminal - 09-December-2020

Cal Cable Meeting

The Lower Polk Neighbors (LPN) Held a meeting to discuss options for making the Cal Cable outer terminal more pedestrian-friendly.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-December-2020

San Mateo County dashboard

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late November, over 12.7 million Americans had been infected and over 260,000 had died.

At the end of November, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties moved back to Purple on the California watch list. The third wave of COVID-19 is raging through nearly every state.

Some idiots still refuse to wear masks. Restaurants that reopened for indoor dining have had to go back to outdoor dining. In Los Angeles, they have also banned outdoor dining.

Early in the month, Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica started to have 11am mass in the gym, livestreamed with an option to sit in our car. We have been doing that. Now that we are back in the purple, mass will be outside with a car option.

My wife and daughter, both teachers, are leading hybrid classes, with some students in the classroom and others on a Zoom meeting.

Andrew S Hallidie

My COVID-19 beard is reaching Andrew S Hallidie length.

Visit a Cable Car - 01-Decber-2020

In addition to the one at Powell and Market, another cable car will be on display at Hyde and Beach. It will be on display on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:30am to 3:30pm.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-November-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late October, over 9.1 million Americans had been infected and over 229,000 had died.

In some counties, restaurants are opening for indoor dining at very restricted capacity. Schools are starting to open for in-person instruction. We go to outdoor mass at our church; we sit in our car and listen on a low-power FM station.

Cable cars and historic streetcars on the E and F lines will remain out of service at least until the new year because there is no way to protect the crew. Muni riders are required to wear face coverings.

A cable car is available for viewing at Powell and Market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

Cal Cable Discovery - 08-August-2013 - 24-October-2020

Crews digging up the street on California near Van Ness discovered a stretch of Cal Cable tracks and conduit which had been buried since the line was cut back on 30-December-1956.

Visit a Cable Car - 01-October-2020

To give people a happy experience, a cable car will be on display Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Powell/Market turntable from 10am to 3pm.

sfcablecar

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-October-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late September, almost 7,000,000 Americans had been infected and over 205,000 had died.

Smith Brothers

My beard is getting longer. Soon I will look like one of the Smith Brothers.

Cable cars and historic streetcars on the E and F lines will remain out of service at least until the new year because there is no way to protect the crew. Muni riders are required to wear face coverings.

Dunedin Cable Tram Calendar - 01-September-2018

DunedinCalendar

The Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust is advancing in its quest to restore part of the Mornington Tramway.

The Trust has published a beautiful 2021 calendar with photos of the original Dunedin cable trams in operation and photos of the historic cars restored in 2020. If you would like to buy a copy of the calendar, it is available on their website.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-September-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late August, almost 6,000,000 Americans had been infected and over 180,000 had died.

I started growing a beard.

Muni Metro returned to service on August 22, with some major changes. J-Church passengers had to transfer at Market Street. The K-Ingleside and L-Taraval lines were interlined. At West Portal, they will switch lines and passengers had to transfer to M-Ocean Views or S-Shuttles. I saw streetcars on Judah and Taraval on Sunday, August 23.

Cable cars and historic streetcars on the E and F lines will remain out of service because there is no way to protect the crew. Muni riders are required to wear face coverings. On August 27, Muni Metro went out of service again because of delays caused by two overhead line splices breaking.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-August-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late July, almost 4,500,000 Americans had been infected and over 150,000 had died. California is reversing the stage 2 opening of businesses in some counties. I got a haircut.

Muni Metro will return to service on August 22, with some major changes. J-Church passengers will have to transfer at Market Street. The K-Ingleside and L-Taraval lines will be interlined. At West Portal, they will switch lines and passengers will have to transfer to M-Ocean Views or S-Shuttles. Cable cars and historic streetcars on the E and F lines will remain out of service because there is no way to protect the crew. Muni riders are required to wear face coverings. On July 27, someone who wasn't wearing a mask yelled racial slurs at the driver and hit him with a baseball bat. The driver should recover.

Because of budget problems, many of the bus lines that were cut may not return to service.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-July-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late June, over 2,500,000 Americans had been infected and over 120,000 had died. California is going through stage 2 of opening businesses in some counties. Infection rates are skyrocketing in states where they have been where they have been more aggressive about opening businesses. I still need a haircut.

Muni Metro should return to service in August, with some major changes. J-Church passengers will have to transfer at Market Street. The K-Ingleside and L-Taraval lines will be interlined. At West Portal, they will switch lines and passengers will have to transfer to M-Ocean Views or S-Shuttles.

We are still waiting for word about the cable cars and the historic electric cars on the E-Embarcadero and F-Market and Wharves lines.

Baseball spring training will resume on July 1. Houses of worship are open for limited numbers of people.

Muni's Heritage Weekend, planned for August 22-23, has been postponed to 2020. I haven't heard anything about the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest, but I assume it has been cancelled.

muni metro changes

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-June-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late May, over 1,000,000 Americans had been infected and over 100,000 had died. California is beginning stage 2 of opening businesses.

Muni's Heritage Weekend, planned for August 22-23, has been postponed to 2020. Muni rail lines are still shut down. Muni has restored service on some lines. #TrumpVirus

frontline workers

San Francisco Railway Museum Vandalized - 31-May-2020

During the after-dark vandalism and looting that followed peaceful protests against the death of George Floyd, people broke into Market Street Railway's San Francisco Railway Museum. They stole tee shirts but left historic items untouched. The museum was closed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. #TrumpVirus

MSR

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-May-2020

We are still sheltering in place at home. By late April, more Americans had died of COVID-19 (3 months) than died in the Vietnam War (about 8 years). On April 20, Muni restored some lines that had been cancelled on April 8. All Muni rail lines remain shut down.

San Francisco History Days, 2020 - 25-27-September-2020

2020 History Days

The annual San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint returns on September 25-27, 2020. This will be the tenth annual event. It was rescheduled from May 08-09 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This year, San Francisco History Days will activate all of San Francisco, highlighting local history in neighborhoods throughout the city with a refreshed format. Six to ten sites will showcase multiple exhibitors and presentations. There will be a dedicated site for authors of recently published history books and there will be tours through the Old U.S. Mint. All participating sites will be featured on an illustrated map (available for free) that will also include a schedule of programs."

COVID-19 Shuts Down Most Muni Lines - 08-April-2020

Muni cancelled 80% of its service except for 17 core lines because shelter-in-place has led to a 90% drop in ridership. There have also been operator shortages because of sickness. Muni had already replaced all Muni Metro service (electric streetcars on lines J-K-L-M-N) with buses.

SF Cable Car Museum @SFCCM on Twitter - 06-April-2020

SFCCM on Twitter

Follow SF Cable Car Museum - SF Cable Car Museum @SFCCM on Twitter. They are broadening their profile and public awareness of the museum by tweeting old and new images of cable cars.

COVID-19 Shuts Down Cable Cars - 16-March-2020

In order to protect operators from the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Muni has replaced cable car and F-line service with buses. E-line service is cancelled.

Bus Shuttles Substitute for California Cable Cars: Several Days in February - 01-March-2020

Bustitution

Production of a "major motion picture," probably Matrix 4, required rerouting of several bus lines and bus substitution on the Cal Cable line. Shooting took place at night.

San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV - 28-January-2020

To celebrate the San Francisco 49ers appearing in Super Bowl LIV, California Street cable car 49 (naturally) and Powell Street cable car 26 were decorated by the dedicated group of people who decorate cable cars.

Tom Sweeney Retires - 14-January-2020

Tom Sweeney Retiring Sir Francis Drake Hotel doorman Tom Sweeney chats with passenfers on a Powell Street cable car. (Source: CBSN Bay Area. All rights reserved.)

Since 1976, one of the most imporant sights seen by passengers on the Powell Street cable car line has been Sir Francis Drake Hotel doorman Tom Sweeney, who has worn the Beefeater uniform and greeted countless people. He has retired and has been honored with a bronze plaque in the sidewalk. I hope Tom has a wonderful retirement.

Cable Car Fares Going Up - 01-January-2020

Cable car fares will go up by one dollar on this day. Single ride tickets will go from $7 to $8.

  • 01-January-2020

    News Archive

    Go to top of page.



    2021 Anniversaries

    150 years ago - 1871
    Aug 08 - In San Francisco, the Eighth Industrial Fair of the San Francisco Mechanics’ Institute opened. Andrew S Hallidie exhibited a working model of his overhead cable system for hauling ore.
    Oct 08 - The Great Chicago Fire broke out.
    Jan 17 -
    Andrew S Hallidie received his first cable railway-related patent

    125 years ago - 1896
    Jan 02 - The Market Street Cable Railway closed the former Omnibus Ellis Street.
    Feb 01 - The cable on the former lines of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway on West Seventh and Fort was shut down.
    Feb 01 - San Francisco's electric Sutro Railroad began service to Sutro Baths.
    Feb 12 - The cable on the former line of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway on Grand Avenue was shut down.
    Feb 18 - The cable on the former line of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway on Downey Avenue was shut down.
    Mar 13 - The cable on the former Boyle Heights line of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway was shut down.
    Mar 23 - The Citizen's Traction Company began operating the former cable cars of the San Diego Cable Railway, converted to electric traction.
    May 01 - The Portland Cable Railway was cut back to the trestle.
    May 27 - A cyclone tore the roof of the powerhouse of the Peoples' Railway of Saint Louis
    Aug 15 - The Isle of Man's Upper Douglas Cable Tramway started service.
    Aug 23 - The Pittsburgh Traction Company's Fifth Avenue line stopped service
    Oct 04 - The Druid Hill Avenue line of the Baltimore Traction Company was converted to electric traction
    Nov 30 - The New York and Brooklyn Bridge Railway started adding a Pullman motor car to each train to replace the steam locomotives used for switching
    Dec 14 - The cable-driven Glasgow District Subway opened and was immediately closed because of an accident

    New York Giants record: 64-67, 7th place. Managers: Arthur Irwin, Bill Joice.

    100 years ago - 1921
    Apr 01 - Financially strapped United Railroads was reorganized as the Market Street Railway
    Oct 30 - Engineer Howard C Holmes, who designed and built the Ferries and Cliff House Railway and other cable lines, died

    New York Giants record: 86-68, 2nd place. Manager: John McGraw.

    75 years ago - 1946
    May 20 - The San Francisco Municipal Railway raised its basic fare from $0.07 to $0.10. "
    Jul 15 - This edition of Time Magazine has a story about efforts to recall San Francisco Mayor Roger Lapham because of the recent fare increase: ""City I Love"""
    Sep 13 - The government of Brazil nationalized the partially cable-operated São Paulo Railway

    New York Giants record: 78-74, 5th place. Manager: Mel Ott.

    50 years ago - 1971
    Mar 22 - A press release from the San Francisco Municipal Railway announces the purchase of 40 new grips that are of a revised and more easily maintained design.
    Jun 16 - A Powell Street cable car was involved in an accident
    Nov 02 - San Francisco voters passed Proposition Q, "Charter amendment relating to schedules and fares on cable car lines," which froze minimum cable car service in the city at the levels of 01-Jul-1971.

    San Francisco Giants record: 86-76, 3rd place. Manager: Clyde King.

    25 years ago - 1996
    Feb 02 - New California Street cable car Number 52 entered revenue service after a ceremony at the Washington-Mason cable car barn.
    Aug 18 - A car ran away from the barn and rammed another. A tourist lost a leg

    San Francisco Giants record: 67-77, 4th place. Manager: Dusty Baker.

    Anniversaries Archive

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    What's New

    What's New Archive

    Go to top of page.


    Ten and Twenty Years Ago

    Ten Years Ago

    Twenty Years Ago

    • 01-Jan-2001 (Winter, 2001)
    • 01-Oct-2000 (Fall, 2000)
      • Picture of the Quarter: Geary and Market
      • Roll out Excerpts From The Octopus page.
      • Join more webrings: Funicular, Trolley & Interurban, Tram, and International Transportation.
    • 01-Sep-2000
      • Picture of the Month: Fairfax funicular
      • Add Fairfax funicular article to the San Francisco Miscellany page.
      • Add news item and other remarks about old car 4 being installed at Pac Bell Park.
      • Add news item and bibliography item about new cable car book.
      • Add news item about car 9 mishap.

    Ten and Twenty Years Ago Archive

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    Copyright 1996-2021 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
    Last updated 01-January-2021