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.
Table of Contents
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 30-April-2022
There is a new rise in TrumpVirus infections, but most counties and many public transit agencies in California have lifted their mask mandates.
Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica is stopping mass in the gym, the radio broadcast and the livestream.
I subbed for two full days at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica.
The Giants are doing well even though they have lost a bunch of people to injuries and Covid.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 31-March-2022
A new TrumpVirus variant is spreading in other countries. Most California counties have lifted their mask mandates. At Good Shepherd Church, they removed the signs that limited people to every other pew. At the school, masks for students were made optional.
The lockout was settled, but Spring Training began late and the season will begin one week later than planned. At Good Shepherd Church, they removed the signs that limited people to every other pew.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has lasted longer than a month. Russian advances have ceased, but war crimes have continued.
Charles Gertsbacher, RIP - 31-March-2022
I was sad to learn about the death of former conductor Charles Gertsbacher on 08-February-2022.
On 12-Aug-1984, gripman Ray McCann and conductor Charles Gertsbacher were taking a full load of passengers up the Hyde Street hill when a suicidal driver drove down the wrong side of the street at high speed and hit the cable car head-on. McCann was knocked off his feet and the car rolled backwards down the hill. Gertsbacher fought through the crowd of passengers and found McCann dazed and bleeding on the floor. Together, they pulled the emergency brake and stopped the car. The driver died, but many others would have, too, had it not been for the heroic action of the gripman and conductor. They both received medals from the US Department of Transportation.
McCann and Gertsbacher both reported to the car barn the next morning despite their injuries. They continued to work together for many years.
Cable Car Outage - 29-March-2022
An equipmment problem shut down the whole system in the morning. The Powell/Mason line remained down all day.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 28-February-2022
The Omicron variant of the TrumpVirus appears to have peaked. Most of the counties in California are revising their mask mandates.
The baseball owners have locked out the players, so Spring Training has been delayed.
Russia has invaded Ukraine. I hope President Putin has made a big mistake.
Congratulations to Catrena Brown - 18-February-2022
Catrena Brown became only the fourth woman to operate the grip on a cable car. I wish her a safe and happy career.
Car 8 Rebuild Completed - 10-February-2022
Powell Street car 8, originally built in 1893-4 by Carter Brothers and rebuilt in 1958, was again rebuilt from 2018 to 2021. Testing of the refurbished car began in February.
Talk About Cable Cars - 02-February-2022
As part of Catholic Schools Week, Good Shepherd School in Pacifica had a Friends of Good Shepherd day. They asked parents and other members of the community to talk about jobs, life experiences and hobbies. I spoke to the Sixth Grade about the history of public transit in San Francisco and about cable cars. The kids asked good questions.
The next day I was surprised to receive thank you notes with many wonderful drawings of cable cars.
Cars Decorated for Black History Month - 31-January-2022
This year for, the first time, two Powell Street cars were decorated to celebrate Black History Month.
Cars Decorated for Lunar New Year - 31-January-2022
Val Lupiz and his generous crew decorated Powell Street cars 11 and 16 and California Street car 49 to celebrate Chinese New Year. 49 was also decorated to celebrate the Forty-Niners making it to the conference championship game.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 31-January-2022
The Omicron variant of the TrumpVirus is the main source of infection in
the United States. The hospitalization and death rates seem to have peaked.
Most of the deaths are occurring with people who were not inoculated.
I had my first COVID-19 test. Negative.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-January-2022
The Omicron variant of the TrumpVirus rapidly became the major source of infection in the United States. The hospitalization and death rates are spiking. Most of the deaths are occurring with people who were not inoculated.
We had 5pm Christmas Eve mass in the gym. On the day after, we went to mass by watching the 11am live stream.
I have been teaching coding to my wife's Third Graders at Good Shepherd School as a volunteer. In the new year, I will be teaching coding to Kindergarten through Fourth.
Barry Bonds is on the regular Hall of Fame ballot for the last time.
Cable Cars and Metallica - 16-December-2021
At a City Hall ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the band Metallica and proclaiming 16-December-2021 to be Metallica Day, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said "They’re part of the fabric of the community. They have touched people’s lives for generations. When you talk about San Francisco, you talk about cable cars and then you talk about Metallica. And on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, I want to officially declare today ‘Metallica Day.’".
Dunedin Cable Tram Calendar - 01-December-2021
The Trust has published a beautiful 2022 calendar with photos of the original Dunedin cable trams in operation and photos of the historic cars restored in 2021. If you would like to buy a copy of the calendar, it is available on their website.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-December-2021
The Omicron variant of the TrumpVirus has turned up in South Africa and is seen as a new threat. In general, there is fear of a new spike during the holidays when people gather together indoors.
The 5pm Saturday mass at Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica still has low turnout. I continued to do the census during November. We may have passed 40 one weekend. Most were in the 30s.
Buster Posey won Comeback Player of the Year for the second time.
I started to teach coding to Third Graders at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica. They are a lively bunch. I will start teaching Fourth Grade in January.
Dr Peter Pfaelzer, RIP - 01-December-2021
San Francisco State University Engineering Professor Peter Pfaelzer has died. At Whirlwind Wheelchair he worked to improve mobility. During the 1982-1984 Great Reconstruction of the cable car system, he redesigned the slot brake, changing it from a single solid blade to a three-part blade that is more effective. The improved slot blade has saved many passengers and crew members. Thank you to Norbert Feyling for the tip.
Gilberto Godoy, RIP - 01-November-2021
I was sad to learn of the recent passing of Gilberto Godoy, operator of the United Brass foundry, which makes bells and other hardware for San Francisco's cable cars and who was also CFO of the Friends of the Cable Car Museum. It was always nice to see him at events like the bell ringing contest. My condolences to his son José and the rest of the family.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-November-2021
New cases and deaths are spiking in the south and parts of the Mid West, where anti-vaccine mania is at its highest.
The 5pm Saturday mass at Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica still has low turnout. I did the census during October.
The Giants had the best record in the division, beating the Dodgers by one game, but went on to lose the National League Division Series.
I will to start volunteering to teach coding to Third Graders at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-October-2021
New cases are still rising, especially in states with Republican governors who have been ignoring the pandemic.
Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica revived the 5pm Saturday mass in September. Turnout has been low.
The Giants were the first team to win 100 games.
Byron Cobb Retires - 24-September-2021
Today was the last day of working as a gripman for Byron Cobb, eight time winner of the Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. His record is second only to the late Carl Payne, who won ten times. Cobb's regular riders on the California Street line were sorry to see him go.
Byron Cobb at the 2017 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest in Union Square.
Melvin Van Peebles, RIP - 21-September-2021
Cable Cars Down - 09-September-2021
Cable cars were down for most of the day because of an underground electrical fire.
from the SF MTA:
The cable cars remained down until an electrical part and an industrial-sized fire extinguisher could be replaced in the barn. Service resumed on 18-September-2021.
Cable Cars Back in Revenue Service - 04-September-2021
On Saturday, 04-September-2021 the cable cars returned to regular, scheduled revenue service.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-September-2021
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.
Carl Payne, RIP - 07-August-2021
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
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
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.
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.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues - 01-July-2021
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 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
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
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
In April I received my second injection of the Pfizer vaccine. Only one Pfunny side effect.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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125 years ago - 1897
New York Giants record: 83-48, 3rd place. Manager: Bill Joice.
100 years ago - 1922
New York Giants record: 94-59, 1st place. Manager: John McGraw. The Giants defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series, 5 games to 3.
75 years ago - 1947
New York Giants record: 61-93, 8th place. Manager: Mel Ott. Nice guys finish last.
50 years ago - 1972
San Francisco Giants record: 90-72, 1st place. Manager: Charlie Fox. Lost NLCS to Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 games to 1.
25 years ago - 1997
San Francisco Giants record: 68-94, 4th place. Manager: Dusty Baker.
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Ten Years Ago
Twenty Years Ago
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Last updated 01-May-2022