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

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


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
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

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.

Rey Morante Remembered - 05-October-2019

Cable car conductor Rey Morante was hit by a motorcycle on 11-June-2015 near the Bay and Taylor terminal of the Powell-Mason line. Morante was in a coma until he died on 12-January-2016. Powell Street cable car 17 will be dedicated to his memory.

Cable Cars Return From Outage September 23, 2019 - 23-September-2019

from the SF MTA:

"The Heart of Cable Car Propulsion

"Today, we are happy to announce the return of all Cable Car service. Over the past ten days, we performed an assortment of upgrades to our Cable Car system. The largest and most complex, being the replacement of the Hyde Line gearbox.

"The gearbox is basically a transmission that transfers power via a 600 volt DC motor, in turn, driving the pulleys carrying the cable. Those cables then loop through the city so the cable cars can be powered through the streets of San Francisco.

"The gearboxes have been in place since 1984 and their life expectancy was at an end. For the past two years we have been changing out the gearboxes and the Hyde Line gearbox was the last to be installed. The gearbox that was removed will be rebuilt and kept as a spare."

Cable Car Outage September 13-23, 2019 - 01-September-2019

Gearbox replacement

"SFMTA @sfmta_muni Aug 29

"HeadsUp: Starting Friday, 9/13, and lasting about 10 days bus shuttles will provide service on ALL cable car lines. This svc adjustment is needed to continue our Gearbox Rehab Project. Regular bus fare will apply. For further details:
sfmta.com/travel-updates/bus-shuttles-substitute-all-cable-car-lines-september-2019

Cable Car Outage August 29, 2019 - 29-August-2019

"SFMTA @sfmta_muni Aug 29

"UPDATE: Power restored and all cable car lines are resuming service. Bus shuttles will remain temporarily to support svc.

"SFMTA @sfmta_muni 7h "ATTN: All cable car lines currently disabled due to reported system power outage. Arranging shuttles to support the Hyde, Mason and California lines."

Bus Shuttles Substitute for California Cable Cars: Weekend of August 24-25, 2019 - 01-September-2019

Bustitution

"Bus shuttles will substitute the California Cable Car for the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, August 24-25, 2019."

Bus Shuttles Substitute for California Cable Cars: Weekend of August 24-25, 2019

Sacramento/Clay Car 19 - Taking It to the Streets - 26-July-2019

Sacramento/Clay Car 19 Former Sacramento/Clay Car 19, in storage at the Washington/Mason car barn. December 2003. Photo by Joe Thompson. August, 2020 Picture of the Month.

Gripman Val Lupiz operated Sacramento/Clay car 19 over the California Street line. This was the first time the car had operated under cable traction since the Sacramento/Clay line was abandoned in 1942.

News Archive

Go to top of page.


2020 Anniversaries

150 years ago - 1870
Feb 26 - The Beach Pneumatic Subway started operating
Aug 02 - London's cable-hauled Tower Subway began service.
Nov 15 - The failed West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway in New York City was sold at auction

125 years ago - 1895
Feb 25 - A cable train of the West Chicago Street Railroad collided with a horse car
Mar 03 - The Gilmor Street line of the Baltimore Traction Company was converted to electric traction
Mar 09 - Washington DC's Columbia Railway opened its main line
Mar 19 - Oakland's Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company sold at auction
Jul 12 - The Washington and Georgetown Railroad's Pennsylvania Avenue (Georgetown) line was extended
Jul 22 - The Philadelphia Traction Company and the People's Traction Company consolidated and formed the Union Traction Company
Aug 10 - Market Street Railway opened the Fillmore Hill Counterbalance
Oct 14 - The Lexington Avenue line of New York's Metropolitan Street Railway opened for service
Nov 11 - The Market Street Railway discontinued its Ellis Street line.

New York Giants record: 66-65, 9th place. Managers: George Davis, Jack Doyle, Harvey Watkins.

100 years ago - 1920
Jan 01 - Prohibition and the Volstead Act took effect
Jan 09 - The Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway, a funicular, was abandoned.

New York Giants record: 87-53, 2nd place. Manager: John McGraw.

75 years ago - 1945
Aug 15 - VJ Day: Huge riots in San Francisco greeted the Japanese surrender.
Nov 10 - An O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde car was forced to stop behind a stalled auto near Lombard. The cable car lost its grip on the cable and ran away backwards down the hill. There were no passengers on the car. Unable to regain control, Gripman EJ Howard and conductor EC Steffen jumped. The car ran a block past the end of the track at Beach and hit the South End Rowing Club.

New York Giants record: 67-87, 5th place. Manager: Mel Ott.

50 years ago - 1970
Jul 18 - Cal Cable service is suspended until November for track work and street repairs

San Francisco Giants record: 90-72, 2nd place. Manager: Clyde King.

25 years ago - 1995

San Francisco Giants record: 55-60, 2nd place. Manager: Dusty Baker. Another strike.

Anniversaries Archive

Go to top of page.


What's New

  • 01-October-2020
    • Picture of the Month: A view from Commercial Street in London's Limehouse District showing a bridge built in 1840 for the London and Blackwall Railway, an early cable-operated railway line. The bridge has been used since 1987 by trains of the Docklands Light Railway, an automated electric line. Google Maps Streetview Image updated Jun 2019. Copyright 2020 Google. October, 2020 Picture of the Month.
    • On the UK page: A ten year update about the London and Blackwall Railway, a pre-Hallidie cable-operated line
    • Added News update about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Archived July 2020 What's New and January-June 2019 news items
  • 01-September-2020
    • Picture of the Month: 24 Brixton Road served as a depot (car barn) for Brixton Hill trams. Later it was a substation for electric trams. Now it houses the Church of the Holy Redeemer, a mission for the area's Italian community. Photo by kk69521 at flickr, All Rights Reserved.
    • On the UK page: A ten year update about London's Brixton Cable Tramway
    • Added News update about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the short-lived return of Muni Metro service and Wellington's Kelburn Cable Car.
    • Added News item about a calendar created by the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust, which is striving to recreate the Mornington cable tramway.
    • Archived June 2020 What's New and January-June 2019 news items
  • 01-August-2020
    • Picture of the Month: Not a cable car this month. Charles Smallwood hand-colored this image of Market Street Railway car 979 sitting at the outer terminal of the 31-Balboa line, at 30th Avenue and Balboa Street. I grew up down the street, but the streetcars were long gone.
    • On the San Francisco Miscellany page: Thanks to Emiliano Echeverria for letting me present a series of photos that were hand-colored by Charles Smallwood
    • Added News update about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the planned return of Muni Metro service. Updated Cliff Lift article with information about reopenings
    • Archived May 2020 What's New and January-June 2019 news items

What's New Archive

Go to top of page.


Ten and Twenty Years Ago

Ten Years Ago

Twenty Years Ago

  • 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.
  • 01-Aug-2000
    • Picture of the Month: Philadelphia Traction train
    • Roll out Philadelphia Traction Company on the Other Cities page.
    • Add news item about bell ringing contest
    • Bibliography: update information about J Bucknall Smith book.

Ten and Twenty Years Ago Archive

Go to top of page.


Guest Book

Note: Guestbook entries will not appear online until I have reviewed and approved them. The amount of text available is limited, so please keep your entry brief.

Sign My Guestbook
View My Guestbook
View My Old Guest Book


Search This Site

Search this site by entering a key word or phrase (for best results use quotations, i.e. "Ferries and Cliff House Railway")


Visit the Advanced Search page.


Legal Stuff

The opinions expressed in The Cable Car Home Page are mine.

All copyrights and trademarks belong to the people or firms that own them. I have always tried to give credit where credit is due. If I have failed and you can correct me, please let me know immediately. In such cases, I apologize beforehand and I mean no harm.

In general, the contents of The Cable Car Home Page (unless otherwise noted) are the copyright of Joe Thompson.

Following the links on this site may cause you to leave the Cable Car Home Page and enter the website of a third party. I have no influence whatsoever over the design and content of such websites and can accept absolutely no responsibility for them.




Visit my old home page (no longer updated)
Home/ What/ How/ Where & When/ Who/ Why
Chronology/ Miscellany/ Links/ Map/ Bibliography

If you have comments, suggestions, or kvetches email me at cable_car_guy@hotmail.com

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

Copyright 1996-2020 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-September-2020