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 and 2021 contests have 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 Cars Shelves of toy cable cars on display at a shop along Taylor Street, near the end of the Powell/Mason line. October, 2010. 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-September-2021

covid masks

covid masks

The City and County of San Francisco has imposed a requirement for people attending indoor events to have proof of vaccination and to wear a mask.

covid vaccine

Carl Payne, RIP - 07-August-2021

Carl Payne

Carl Payne, the only 10-time winner of the Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest, transit operator, police officer, San Francisco ambassador and great all-around guy, passed away on 07-August-2021. Above we see him giving an exhibition performance at the 2016 contest. He was born in Pittsburgh, but settled in San Francisco after he served in the Marine Corps.

He went to work for Muni and stayed for 29 years. He spent 28 years working in the Cable Car Division. The only person who has come close to his record of ten Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest championships is Byron Cobb, who has won eight times. Payne travelled the world, appeared with symphony orchestras, and shared his joy for life with everyone.

While working on the cable cars, Payne became an expert at spotting pickpockets. When he left Muni, he applied to join the San Francisco Police Department. He passed the test, but was told that he was over the maximum age. He sued the department and eventually won. He spent 25 years with the police. After retiring from the SFPD, he became a Golden Gate Park ranger. He had to give that up when he started to have health issues.

Carl Payne had a long career of service to the people of San Francisco and our visitors.

The image above shows him giving an exhibition at the 2013 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. Four former champs gave an exhibition at the 2017 contest: Al Quintana (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994), Ken Lunardi (1997, 2002, 2006), Frank Ware (1999, 2004) and Carl Payne (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989).

Cable Car Museum Reopening/Cable Cars to Return - 01-August-2021

cable car museum reopening button

The Cable Car Museum reopens on August 1. Come by and receive a beautiful button.

After nearly a month of testing and training, the cable cars will resume service on 02-August-2021, which is also the 148th anniversary of Andrew S Hallidie's first test of the Clay Street Hill Railroad. If all promises come true, there will be no fares collected on the cable cars during August.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-August-2021

covid statistics

By late July, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are all rising. Many of the new cases involve the Delta variant. Almost all of the new hospitalizations and deaths are from the group of people who have refused to get vaccinated. Many cities are reimposing mask requirements. States where their goverments discouraged vaccination are running out of ICU beds. Some right wing nutjobs are finally encouraging their followers to get vaccinated.

Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica was able to increase capacity for the 11am Sunday mass. They are going to revive the 5pm Saturday mass in September.

I went to the barber and got my shelter-in-place beard professionally trimmed for the first time.

The Giants were still in first place after the All Star Game.

keep wearing your mask William S Hart reminds us to keep wearing our masks. Great Falls Tribune, 16-April-1921.

Visit a Cable Car - 10-July-2020

To give people a happy experience, a cable cars have been on display at the Powell/Market turntable and Hyde and Beach. Today was the last day. Val Lupiz reports that next week, recertification training will begin for cable car crews.

wear your mask

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-July-2021

Happy Hour

Much of California became fully open on 15-June-2021. People who have been vaccinated will not have to wear masks outside. I will probably continue to wear mine for a while.

The virus is still out there, but almost 70% of Californians have been vaccinated. The 600,000th American died in June.

In June, San Francisco may have become the first city in the United States to reach herd immunity.

The Giants were able to return to selling all of their seats.

Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica was able to double its capacity in the gym. They may soon revive the 5 o'clock mass on Saturday. The archdiocese wants us to continue to wear masks.

Cal Cable Discovery - 21-June-2021

Crews working on the eternal Van Ness Avenue project have unearthed the crossing of the crossing of the California Street Cable Railroad and Muni's H-line. The H-line was replaced by buses in the late 1940s. Cal Cable was cut back to Van Ness in 1954. One of the diamonds has been reserved for preservation.

Cable Cars Are Returning - 15-June-2021

cable cars returning

Cable cars have been down since March, 2021 because of the pandemic. Today the San Francisco MTA announced that cable car testing and training will begin in July. The Powell-Hyde line will open to the public on 02-August-2021, the 148th anniversary of Andrew S Hallidies's first test of the Clay Street Hill Railroad. In August, passengers will be invited to ride on the cars during a "mock service" trial, with no regular schedules, and possibly no fares during August. Other lines will follow.

Muni's popular F-Line returned to service on 26-June-2021.

History Happy Hour with the San Francisco Cable Car Museum - 10-June-2021

Happy Hour

Nicole Meldahl and Chelsea Sellin of the Western Neighborhoods Project hosted a Zoom conversation with Mike Phipps and Don Holmgren from the Cable Car Museum. They gave a nice presentation and people asked good questions. I learned from it.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-June-2021
google.com

In May, infections and deaths are way down in the United States. India is being hit badly.

By late May, 50% of American adults have received at least one shot. Many crazy people are refusing to get vaccinated.

Governor Newsome says that on 15-June-2021 most businesses can reopen at full capacity and most people can stop wearing masks out-of-doors.

My wife and I, now fully vaccinated started going to Sunday mass in the gym.

The Giants were in first place for a while.

The F-Line and most of the Muni Metro lines returned to service. No word yet on when cable cars will start running again.

Car 60 Stars in a Movie - 16-May-2021

California Street car 60 played an important role in a two-hour movie which may lead to a revival of Nash Bridges, a television show I never watched when it on during the first decade of the century. People gave the original high marks for shooting in San Francisco. Don Johnson and Cheech Marin will return to their roles.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-May-2021

coverbrowser.com

In April I received my second injection of the Pfizer vaccine. Only one Pfunny side effect.

google.com

Rates of infection are still high, but rates of death have generally declined. By late April, 143k Americans had been vaccinated. 30% of Americans have been fully vaccinated.

By late April, about 570,000 Americans had died from the Trump Virus.

The single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine was put on hold to investigate a small number of blood clot problems. It was back in business by the end of the month.

Speaking of back in business, Muni Metro and F-line historic streetcar service may resume on May 15. The Powell-Hyde cable car line may return to service during the late summer.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-April-2021

google.com

During March, the rates of infection and death continued to decline, but epidemiologists warned about mutated strains that could cause a third surge.

By March 23rd, about 545,000 Americans had died from the Trump Virus.

At about the same time, we learned that almost 25% of the US population had been vaccinated. 50% of US senior citizens have been fully vaccinated. My wife and daughter, both teachers, received the second of two vaccine shots in March, and I received my first shot.

The SFMTA says the F-Market and Wharves line should return on 15-May-2021. Hyde Street cable cars should return this fall, and the other lines later. Most light rail lines should be back early in 1922.

San Francisco and San Mateo Counties moved to the red tier, so indoor dining is returning. Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica was able to double the number of people they can have in the gym for mass. We will continue to attend in the car until I get my second dose.

Spring training has been strange with very few people in the stands.

My wife and daughter are both teaching in hybrid situations, with some kids in the classroom and some looking at Zoom. Their schools are encouraging more students to return to the classroom.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-March-2021

nytimes.com

During February, the big post-Christmas surge began to decline.

Just past the middle of February, the 500,000th American died from the Trump Virus. President Biden ordered flags to fly at half mast.

At about the same time, we learned that 5% of the US population had been vaccinated. My wife and daughter, both teachers, received the first of two vaccine shots in February.

Cincinnati Powerhouse Demolished - 27-February-2021

LaSalle Street Powerhouse The Mount Auburn Cable Railway's powerhouse and carbarn seen in 2019, two years before it collapsed. Google Maps Streetview Image updated June April. Copyright 2019 Google.

In Cincinnati, the Mount Auburn Cable Railway's powerhouse and carbarn at Dorchester Street and Highland Avenue was demolished in February, 2021 after a partial collapse.

Thanks to Michel Azema, proprietor of FuniMag for the tip about this.

Carl Payne Ill - 13-February-2021

Carl Payne At the 2016 Cable Car Bell Contest. Ten-time grand champion Carl Payne gives an exhibition. Defending champ Byron Cobb is on the left.

Let's have some prayers and/or good thoughts for Carl Payne, Grand Champion of the Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. He served the city for 50 years. After he retired from the cable cars, he joined the San Francisco Police Department. After he retired from the SFPD, he became a park ranger.

Carl Payne is fighting cancer. I'll bet he is giving cancer a good fight.

Carl Payne won the bell ringing contest in Carl Payne 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1989.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-February-2021

kp.org

Towards the end of January, Governor Newsome lifted the order to shelter in place at home. This may have been premature.

By late January, over 3.2 million Americans had been infected and over 320,000 had died. The post-holiday surge started to slow down, but newer, more infectious strains are turning up.

Vaccine distribution got off to a slow start.

Some idiots still refuse to wear masks. Restaurants in the Bay Area were able to reopen for outdoor dining

Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica is having 11am mass in the outdoors, live-streamed, with an option to sit in our car. We have been doing that. On a rainy Sunday, they celebrated the mass in the gym and everyone sat in their cars.

My wife and daughter, both teachers, are leading hybrid classes, with some students in the classroom and others on a Zoom meeting. I hope they will get the vaccine soon.

Cable cars remain out of service, but cars were 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. The surface portion of the J-Church electric streetcar line is operating. The T-Third returned to service on 23=January=2021.

Spring training will probably be delayed.

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 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 2021. I haven't heard anything about the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest, but I assume it has been cancelled.

muni metro changes

News Archive

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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

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Ten and Twenty Years Ago

Ten Years Ago

Twenty Years Ago

Ten and Twenty Years Ago Archive

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

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