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|A postcard depicting Powell Street cable car 512 (now 12).|
The surviving Powell Street lines of the San Francisco Municipal Railway use single-ended "California" cars. "California" cars include open and closed sections.
Car dimensions vary slightly because the cars come from different builders and each has been rebuilt many times.
|Post-1973 No||Post-1906 No||1893 No||Year Built||Builder||Windows||Roof||Adopter||Comments|
|1||NA||NA||1973||Muni (Elkton Shops)||R||C||None||New body, roof recycled from first 506. Returned to service on 16-November-2014 after rebuilding.|
|2||502||502||1893||Carter Bros||R||C||Atari||Rebuilt 1971.|
|3||503||503||1893||Carter Bros||-||C||Atari||Rebuilt 1955. Muni green.|
|4||NA||NA||1994||Muni||R||B||Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation for the City of Oakland(!)||-|
|5||505||505||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||Examiner||Rebuilt 1956.|
|6||518||518||1893||Carter Bros||R||C||Sohio||Rebuilt 1966 from 1st 518. Pictured on US commemorative postage stamp in 1971.|
|7||507||507||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||Fairmont Hotel||Rebuilt 1957|
|8||508||508||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||KJAZ||Rebuilt 1958. Rebuilt 2018-2021. Began testing in early 2022.|
|9||NA||NA||1997||Muni||R||B||-||Rolled out 24-Apr-2000. MSR White Front. Carried Olympic Torch on 18-Jan-2002.|
|10||510||510||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||United Air Lines||Rebuilt 1960.|
|11||511||511||1893||Carter Bros||R||C||American Airlines||Rebuilt 1979-80. After another rebuilding, made its debut on 12-April-2018. Now painted in Market Street Railroad red.|
|12||512||512||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||Stanford Court||Rebuilt 1959. Rebuilt 2014-2016. MSR White Front colors.|
|15||NA||NA||2008||Muni||R||B||-||Entered service on 22-June-2009. Later the same day, President Obama's kids rode the car. 1890s-early 1900s yellow Powell/Mason paint scheme. Lettered for "Market Street Railway Co"|
|16||516||516||1893||Carter Bros||R||C||None||Rebuilt 1953. Muni blue and gold.|
|17||517||532||1887||Mahony Bros||S||B||Sumitomo||Renumbered 1929. Rebuilt 1956.|
|18||2nd 518||NA||1962||Muni (Elkton Shops)||S||C||Bell System||-|
|20||520||520||1893||Carter Bros||R||C||Kikkoman||Humphrey Bogart rode this car in the movie Dark Passage. Gripman MJ McClure says that he "started scratching the graffiti 'H. Bogart Rode on This Car Circa 1946-47' above the front window as a teaser for the observant but curious passenger. After a couple years it got a mention in the Herb Caen column. The Shop Guys would paint over it every two or three years..." On 08-November-1998, car 20 ran down California Street to Grant, carrying a small load of passengers, mostly off-duty Muni people. It returned by "reverse gripping," running the car backwards. Rebuilt 1967.|
|22||522||522||1887||Mahony Bros||S||B||Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco||Rebuilt 1956. Rebuilt 2009-2017. Back in service 28-November-2017.|
|23||523||523||1890||FCH||R||B||I Magnin||Rebuilt 1969. Rebuilt again 2018. Made its debut in revenue service during Muni's annual Heritage Weekend.|
|24||524||534||1887||Mahony Bros||R||B||Amfac||Renumbered 1929. Rebuilt 1958. Travelled to the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1949. Travelled to Los Angeles and ran on rubber tired truck for Shriners convention in 1950, representing San Francisco Islam Temple (thanks to Dennis M Linsky for the information).||25||525||525||1890||FCH||R||B||Four Seasons Clift Hotel||Rebuilt 1976. Rebuilt again and delivered to the barn in 2008. Returned to service on 28-May-2008. Red pre-1906 Powell Street paint scheme. Lettered for United Railroads||26||526||526||1890||FCH||-||B||Bechtel||Rebuilt 1973-1975. Rebuilt 2010-2011. Muni green and cream. Ran for one day, 14-April-2018 as 526 for a special charter.|
|27||527||527||1887||Mahony Bros||S||B||Hilton Tower||Rebuilt 1958.|
|28||NA||NA||2004||Muni||R||B||-||Built in 2002, put in service on 02-January-2004, when old 28 retired.|
Window type refers to the side windows on the closed sections. R = Rounded and S = Straight. Most recently rebuilt cars seem to have rounded windows. Roof type is B = Bombay and C = Carter. I'm still gathering data about windows and roofs.
|Latest No||Post-1906 No||1893 No||Year Built||Builder||Windows||Roof||Adopter||Comments|
|4||504||543||1887||Mahony Bros||-||-||Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation for the City of Oakland(!)||Rebuilt & renumbered 1915 from open car 543. Restored and placed in the right field pavilion at Pac Bell Park in 2000. The car is numbered 44 for Willie McCovey.|
|9||509||542||1887||Mahony Bros||-||-||-||Renumbered 1923. Rebuilt 1952. Damaged in accident in 1995. In storage.|
|13||513||513||1893||Carter Bros||-||-||None||Rebuilt 1958. Damaged in accident in 1995. Reported to be in the possession of the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources.|
|15||515||515||1893||Carter Bros||S||C||Datsun/Mitsubishi Motor Corp||Rebuilt 1954. Stored out of service at Pier 80 since Summer 1984.|
|19||519/500||519||1893||Carter Bros||-||-||None||Renumbered 500 1968-73. Scrapped 1986.|
|21||521||533||1887||Mahony Bros||-||-||None||Renumbered 1929. Rebuilt 1952. Scrapped 1987.|
|28||501||544||1887||Mahony Bros||S||B||Herbst Foundation||Renumbered and rebuilt from open car 1912. Rebuilt 1951. Retired January, 2004. There was talk of restoring it to its orignal configuration as an open car. In 2018, donated to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut as part of a deal that brought two electric streetcars to San Francisco.|
Powell Street cars were built without front windows. They had a single front-facing seat on each side of the car. See More Ferries and Cliff House Pictures for a photo of a Powell Street car in its original condition.
Mahony Bros built the original cars for the FCH. They have a curved roof with a small "eyelid" that protrudes before and after the clerestory. This is called a "Bombay Roof".
The Ferries & Cliff House Railway (FCH) built several cars in its Washington & Mason facility. These cars have roofs like the Mahony cars.
Carter Brothers, a famous firm that built equipment for railroads and transit systems all over the west, built most of the active cars in 1893. These cars have simpler clerestory roofs. They were ordered for the former FCH by its purchaser, the the Market Street Railway to provide service to the 1894 Midwinter Exposition in Golden Gate Park. The Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources has restored several pieces of Carter Bros equipment, and may be in possession of old Powell Street car 13.
Elkton Shops were inherited by Muni from the Market Street Railway. Muni currently builds and rebuilds cars at its own carpentry shop.
Most Powell Street cars are painted maroon, in a style based on their original color scheme, which was reintroduced with Car One in 1971. Car 3 is painted in what was the standard green color before Car One. New Car 9 is painted in Market Street Railway white front colors. Car 13 is painted in green & red United Railroad colors. Car 16 is painted in old Muni blue & gold (actually, yellow) colors.
|The plaque on the side of Car 6, indicating that it was sponsored by Sohio during the Great Rebuilding of the 1980's. December 2003. Photo by Joe Thompson.|
Many cars carry a plaque ahead of the rear platform saying "This car was adopted by ____". These were sold to corporations during the great rebuilding in the 1980's.
Thanks to Val Lupiz, you can read San Francisco Cable Car - The Gripping Tale of an Aged Compact, an April 1962 Road and Track road test of a Powell Street car.
|Powell Street cable car No. 503 along with No. 510 were the only two Powell Street cars painted in railway’s then blue and yellow colors. No. 503 rests at the line’s outer terminal of Bay and Taylor Streets, February 1946. Walter Rice collection.|
|Powell Street cable car No. 519 is the first of the Powell Street fleet to be painted in the green and cream paint scheme. This paint scheme would be the basic scheme of the Powell fleet until 1982, when the maroon and grey colors of the Ferries & Cliff House Railway were adopted. The Powell Street fleet never received the "wings" version that Muni used on its streetcars, motor coaches and trolley coaches. The first streetcars painted in green and cream were comparable to No. 519 that is they did not have "wings." No. 519 is at the outer end of the Washington-Jackson line, February 1946. Walter Rice Collection.|
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|An old postcard depicting California Street cable car 23.|
The surviving California Street lines of the San Francisco Municipal Railway use double-ended "California" cars. "California" cars include open and closed sections.
Car dimensions vary slightly because the cars have been rebuilt many times.
|Current No||Previous No||Year Built||Builder||Adopter||Comments|
|51||NA||1906||Holman||101 California||Rebuilt 2014.|
|54||19||1907||Hammond||Embarcadero Center||Renumbered in 1957. Charles, Prince of Wales rode it during a 1977 visit to San Francisco.|
|55||8||1906||Hammond||Mitsubishi Corp||Renumbered in 1957. Reitred 2015. Stored at Pier 70.|
|56||NA||1913||CSC||Daon Corp||Rebuilt 1984. Rebuilt again 2018. Made its debut in revenue service during Muni's annual Heritage Weekend. Has end numbers above center windows rather than the large number on the dash.|
|58||NA||1914||CSC||Wells Fargo Bank||-|
|59||NA||1998||Muni||None||Rolled out to honor the 125th anniversary.|
|60||NA||2003||Muni||None||Rolled out February, 2003 after being in storage for some time.|
|Latest No||Previous No||Year Built||Builder||Adopter||Comments|
|49||40, 6||1910||CSC||Levis||Renumbered 40 to 6 in 1957. From 6 to 49 later in 1957. Damaged in an accident in 1990 and scrapped.|
|52||18, 3||1907||Hammond||None||Renumbered 18 to 3 in 1957. From 3 to 52 later in 1957. Stored after 1957. Scrapped in 1984.|
|59||15||1907||Hammond||None||Renumbered in 1957. Traded to New Orleans for exhibit in park.|
|60||16||1907||Hammond||Bank of America Foundation||Renumbered in 1957. Rebuilt 1968-1969. Currently in storage|
CSCRR's entire roster except for one old single truck grip car was wiped out by the earthquake & fire in 1906.
Holman & Hammond were important wooden car builders in San Francisco. CSC built some cars in its California & Hyde Street barn.
CSC equipped its double-ended cars with a grip at one end. The levers at the other end were connected by rods.
CSC cars originally numbered 1-23 ran on the main line. Their single Root side grips had to be replaced with two Eppelsheimer bottom grips when Muni revised the line to run out of Washington/Mason. Cars numbered 38-59 ran on the O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde line. They had to have an additional Eppelsheimer bottom grip added when Muni revised the main line to run out of Washington/Mason. Shorter cars numbered 60-62 ran on the Jones Street shuttle. None were retained by Muni as cable cars. 61, renumbered as 62, was placed on a truck chassis and is used in parades and for the annual bell ringing contest.
Muni sold off most of the CSC roster. Five cars ran under battery power at Knotts Berry Farm until 1979. Several cars were sold to Gridley Realty, which mounted them on truck chassis.
Car 42 was sold the car to operator of a cattle feedlot in central California, who mounted it on a motorized trucks and operated it on a private rail line. In 1993, the Market Street Railway began cosemetically restoring the car. In 2005, Muni shop people began restoring the car to operating condition. On 25-May-2005, during a test, 42 ran on the California Street line for the first time in its life. Initial reports are that it worked well. Car 42 does not have doors in its ends for removing the grips, which makes it more complicated for the shopmen to service. On 03-Jun-2005, the car carried mayors from around the world for United Nations' World Environment Day. It may remain available for charters.
Old number 59, built by Hammond in 1907 was originally numbered 15 and renumbered in 1957. Muni traded the car to New Orleans for RTA streetcar 952 in 1998. 59 will go on display in a park in New Orleans. I saw 952 and Muni's electric streetcar Number One (not cable car Number One) in a parade on Market Street after 952's unveiling on 18-Sep-1998. I saw new car number 59 at the Drumm Street terminus of the California Street line on 04-Sep-1998. It was nice and shiny.
Old number 60 was stored at Pier 80 for some time before being replaced by new number 60 in February, 2003.
Most cars carry a plaque saying "This car was adopted by ____". These were sold to corporations during the great rebuilding in the 1980's. Some of these placques have been misplaced when cars have been renovated or replaced.
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Copyright 1996-2022 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-October-2022