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
Muni Sickout - 02-June-2014
Transit workers unhappy with a net pay cut offerred by management had a sickout on June 2 through 4. The cable cars were shut down Monday through Wednesday.
Wells Fargo Museum is Open - 16-May-2014
The Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco closed last August for renovation. It reopened on 28-March-2014. I was able to visit in May and enjoyed it immensely. The beautiful Abbott Downing stagecoach still sits in the front window, but much has changed. The skeleton stagecoach that people can sit in has moved downstairs. There are more interactive exhibits. I liked the telegraph key connected to a key in the Portland, Oregon museum. Nobody responded when I tried it.
Cable Car at Auction - 08-April-2014
I recently received an email from Eric Minoff of Bonhams, the auction house. He was researching an item from The Auction of the Estate of Dr Ralph W.E. Cox Jr, which will be held on 10-May-2014. Among the Ford Models AC, S and T Torpedo, the Silsby Steam Pumper, the Fifth Avenue Coach Company 1925 Yellow Coach Open-Top Double-Decker Bus, the 1925 American La France City Service Ladder Fire Truck and an "1890 Brill Street Car" was former California Street Cable Railroad car 11.
My wife says I don't have any place to put it, so I can't bid on it.
Updated - 31-May-2014
The car sold for $87,500. I hope it has found a good home.
Joe's Cable Car Last Day - 16-March-2014
Joe's Cable Car closed after 49 years of serving excellent hamburgers.
San Francisco History Expo #4 - 01-March-2014
We attended the fourth annual San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. There was a good crowd. There were some new exhibitors this year, including the Odd Fellows.
The Friends of the Cable Car Museum were kind enough to share some of their space with the group restoring Ocean Shore Railroad car 1409.
The Friends of the Cable Car Museum were in a new position, as were many other groups. I had a nice chat with Mike Phipps and Dom Holmgren, who spoke on Sunday about the Ocean Shore Railroad. The Friends' web site had been down for over a week, but it has since been fixed.
The Market Street Railway/San Francisco Railway Museum had a nice table. I had a good chat with young volunteers Dominic and Julian.
The following week, the Chronicle carried a story saying that the city was unhappy with the progress made by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society in renovating and retrofitting the Mint and may turn it over to the California Historical Society.
Fare Gouging Proposal - 17-February-2014
Cable car riders are forced to pay six dollars, three times the regular Muni fare. Now the Municipal Transportation Agency has proposed raising the fare on Muni's historic electric streetcar line, the F-Market & Wharves, to three dollars or six dollars. This is a bad idea. Regular San Francisco people depend on the F line and they do not all have monthly passes.
2014 Chinese New Year Parade - 15-February-2014
Trini Whittaker, 2013 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest champion, marched with other Muni operators in the Chinese New Year Parade. He rang a bell as he marched.
Joe's Cable Car to Close - 29-January-2014
A report on KPIX Channel 5 said that Joe Obegi is going to close Joe's Cable Car in March and retire. Coming after the closing of Caesar's Italian Restaurant and Westlake Joes, this was a shock.
Cable Cars Pulled Because of NFC Championship Game - 19-January-2014
Muni announced on 17-January-2014 that the cable cars and the F-line electric streetcars would be pulled off the streets at Noon on Sunday, 19-February-2014 because of the National Footbal Conference championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle. Worried that people celebrating a victory might damage the cars, Muni took the precaution of pulling them in and de-energizing the electric overhead on Market Street. The 49ers lost the game 23-17. I don't watch football much, but that was an exciting game.
President Barack Obama Visits - 25-November-2013
President Barack Obama visited the Chinatown Recreation Center across the street from the Cable Car Barn at Washington and Mason to give a speech on immigration reform. All three cable car lines were covered by buses until about 1:30pm. I was walking to lunch and noticed a bus laying over at California and Drumm.
Come Hear the San Francisco Cable Car Chorus - 03-November-2013
Sunday November 3: Come hear the barbershop harmonies of the SF Cable Car Chorus performing a whole bunch of old songs you know, and all of the verses you don't! Details at www.sfcablecarchorus.org.
Powell Street Cable Cars Shut Down - 17-October-2013
The discovery of a mysterious package in Union Square caused the Powell Street cable cars to stop running. Police told all businesses lining the square to use their back doors. The package proved to be harmless.
Angels Flight Derailment - 05-September-2013
One of the cars on Angels Flight derailed. No one was injured. The operator of Angels Flight blamed the derailment on an electrical interruption that caused the emergency brake to engage. Apparently the brake lifted the car off the rails.
Cal Cable Discovery - 08-August-2013
Crews digging up the street on California near Scott discovered a stretch of Cal Cable tracks and conduit.
How to Ride Cable Cars - 30-May-2013
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) released the revised version of its site this day. It includes a page on "How to Ride Cable Cars." It gives some good advice, particularly "Follow the Crew's Instructions."
Cable Cars Named One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Mass Transit - 30-May-2013
An article by Amy L entitled "Cable Cars Named One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Mass Transit" appeared on the blog of
The Law Offices of Nelson C Barry III. Despite the title, which seems inflammatory, the article takes an even-handed
approach. I give them credit for allowing me to present the other side. I pointed out that:
I did not ask them to call me "one of the world’s foremost leading experts on the past and present of cable cars."
Secret San Francisco - 14-May-2013
I went to the Balboa Theater for the first presentation of "Secret San Francisco", a collection of short films about San Francisco put together and presented by Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhoods Project. They encouraged audience participation. The show started late because it was sold out and there was a line out the door waiting to get in at 6:30pm. The first part was a trivia quiz with prizes. Then they showed several short movies and clips from movies. I had seen some, like the films of Sutro Baths burning, but I had not seen many of the others. The audience was fascinated by the Playland films. The auction after it closed was sad. The demolition of the Fox Theater depressed everyone. Blackie the Wonder Horse, who swam the Golden Gate towing Shorty Roberts of Roberts-at-the-Beach cheered everyone up.
There were many views of cable cars. Woody LaBounty made a comment that we were going to be seeing lots of Powell and Market. Amoung the scenes was a nice overhead shot from the 1930s. I remember when people would jump on the car while it was on the turntable. There were also views of California Street cable cars and one shot of a Sacramento/Clay car.
It was a wonderful show and I was happy when they announced at the end that they were going to repeat it because of the great demand.
Vampire Cable Cars - 24-April-2013
The San Francisco Weekly published Joe Eskenazi's article Running of the Bull: Cable Cars Are Trundling Money Away From the Transit You Actually Use. Eskenazi, inspired by a recent Associated Press article on how much cable cars cost the city in accident-related damage awards, says that they cost the cities in other ways. He feels that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which is always low on funds, should not be forced to subsidize the cable cars, which are mostly used by visitors, the same way it subsidizes other bus and rail services which are mostly used by working San Franciscans. He says "Maintaining cable cars for city tourists while struggling to provide core transit service is a bit like polishing the heirloom china for the guests while sending the kids to school with no shoes. But no amount of cold-hearted empirical analysis will sever city residents' emotional attachment to the cable cars. (It would also take a citywide election to scrap the cars.)"
Perhaps the cable cars should receive more funding from other sources. Perhaps the Municipal Transportation Agency should, too.
San Francisco History Expo #3 - 02-March-2013
I attended the third annual San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. There was a good crowd. There were some new exhibitors this year, including ThinkWalks. It was nice to meet with Joel Pomerantz in person.
At the Cable Car Museum display, I had nice chats with José Godoy and with Don Holmgren and Mike Phipps, co-authors of the excellent book Watermusic in the Track. The exhibit included models, pieces of cable, photos and the world's largest cable car bell, created by José 's dad, Gilberto Godoy. I heard Mike Phipps talk about "The Geary Street, Park and Ocean Cable Car Company, 1880-1912: The Premier Line of the New Municipal Railway."
At the Western Neighborhoods Project display, I talked to Woody LaBounty and got to meet David Gallagher. I'm looking forward to Woody's new book about Ingleside Terrace.
The Market Street Railway had a huge exhibit where I met retired Muni inspector Art Curtis, whom I have corresponded with for years.
There was an auction which involved placing tickets in boxes on the tables of various exhibitors. I won second place from the Presidio Historical Association, a one-year membership. I am looking forward to it.
Wells Fargo, which sponsored the expo, had a nice exhibit.
Water Main Break Cable Car - 20-February-2013
An early morning water main break at Filbert and Mason delayed Powell/Mason service till noon.
Cable Car Accident - 06-February-2013
Powell Street car 25, outbound on the Powell-Hyde line between Washington and Jackson hit a large bolt apparently jammed in the slot or the conduit. This caused the car to stop suddenly, injuring seven people, including both crew members. Service was stopped for about 3 1/2 hours. Preliminary findings indicate that the bolt came from a hatch in the conduit.
Cal Cable Inner Terminal Surrounded
I was walking along Market Street one day this week and I noticed that I could barely see the California Street cable car terminal at California and Drumm. It was surrounded by board and plastic fencing. I think the crews are doing sewer work.
Model: Wurlington Bros Press Cable Car - 18-January-2013
The Wurlington Bros Press produces a series of postcards which can be cut and folded to produce models of landmarks and vehicles. One of their models represents California Street cable car 60. Another is a BART car. Their site is worth a visit.
BART Cable Shuttle to the Oakland Airport - 02-January-2013
Articles in various sources reported on the erection of columns along Hegenberger Road which will support the 3.2 mile automated people mover (APM) which will shuttle passengers from the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART Station to the Oakland Airport. The APM will use Doppelmayr's CABLE Liner Shuttle system. The system is currently used on the CLS MGM CityCenter Shuttle in Las Vegas and in other cities. The CABLE Liner Shuttle uses an endless cable and an automatic grip in each car which allows the cars to stop and start at the stations.
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225 years ago - 1789
150 years ago - 1864
125 years ago - 1889
New York Giants record: 83-43, 1st place. Manager: James Mutrie. The Giants defeated the American Association champion Brooklyn team in the post season Temple Cup series.
100 years ago - 1914
New York Giants record: 84-70, 2nd place. Manager: John McGraw.
75 years ago - 1939
50 years ago - 1964
San Francisco Giants record: 90-72, 4th place. Manager: Alvin Dark.
25 years ago - 1989
San Francisco Giants record: 92-70, 1st place. Manager: Roger Craig. Beat the Cubs in an exciting playoff, but lost the earthquake-interrupted World Series to the Oakland Athletics.
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Last updated 01-July-2014