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
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

Bell Ringing Contest
Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest

Leonard Oats won the 2016 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest on Thursday, 07-July-2016 at Noon in Union Square.
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 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

Car 504 with free-standing figures. In this rear three-quarter view, we see two seated ladies in short skirts on the left-hand bench. The brake handle is visible to the right of the conductor. This is an unusual detail on a toy cable car. See more collectible items on my Cable Car Kitsch page. See toys, magazine ads, and other new items.

Table of Contents


2017 CAMRA Isle of Man Beer and Cider Festival - 06-April-2017

IOM Beer and Cider Festival

The Isle of Man Horse Tramway will play an important part in the opening of the 2017 CAMRA Isle of Man Beer and Cider Festival. The Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Sir Richard Gozney, will ride to the festival opening on tram car 18, a double decker built in 1883. The Festival will take place from April 6 to 8.

Cable Car - Electric Auto Collision - 30-March-2017

Around 5pm on 30-March-2017, Powell Street cable car 5 had a collision with an electric-powered Tesla automobile. Fault has not yet been determined. Buses ran on Powell Street for a while.

"San Francisco Cable Cars" Documentary Film - 19-March-2017

Balboa Marquee The marquee of the Balboa Theater announces the showing of Strephon Taylor's new documentary "San Francisco Cable Cars."

We went to San Francisco's Balboa Theater on Sunday to see Strephon Taylor's new documentary "San Francisco Cable Cars."

I enjoyed the documentary, which included beautiful photography of current operations and a good selection of photos and animations to explain cable traction technology.

One of the people interviewed was from the Mechanics' Institute, which Andrew S Hallidie helped found. Gripman Val Lupz and historians Emiliano Echeverria and Mike Phipps were also interviewed.

The documentary held the crowd's interest until the end and people had some good questions for Strephon Taylor after. I went to the lobby and bought a copy of the video. You can learn more about the movie and buy a copy here: San Francisco Cable Cars documentary website

The movie was held over for another week at the Balboa and has been touring other theaters in Northern California.

Strephon Taylor Strephon Taylor in the lobby.

Pedestrian Killed by Cable Car - 19-March-2017

An elderly pedestrian was struck by an inbound Powell-Mason car at Mason and Filbert. He died in the hospital.

Angels Flight is Saved! - 01-March-2017

Angels Flight announcement Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces the rebirth of Angels Flight. (source: Angels Flight Railway Revival Press Conference, from Esotouric).

Today Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Angels Flight, which has been shut down since 05-September-2013 will resume service by Labor Day. A petition organized by the Angels Flights Friends & Neighbors Society (FANS) Preservation Campaign deserves much of the credit. Thank you to everyone who signed. Petitions can work.

ACS Infrastructure Development and a team of other transportation and engineering firms have made a deal with the nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation, which owns the railway, to refurbish it, improve the mechanism, and operate it for thirty years.

"San Francisco Cable Cars" Documentary Film - 01-March-2017

San Francisco Cable Cars

Strephon Taylor's new documentary "San Francisco Cable Cars" will premiere at the Balboa Theater, 3630 Balboa Street, San Francisco on Friday, 17-March-2017.

The schedule:
Friday-Saturday March 17-18: 5pm, 7:30pm and 9:45pm
Sunday-Wednesday March 19, 20, 21, 22: 5pm, 7:30pm
Thursday March 23: 5pm

I'm looking forward to it. Among the people interviewed are gripman Val Lupz and historian Emiliano Echeverria.

The documentary website.

Bay to Bay Service - 10-February-2017


Tampa International Airport announced a new Bay to Bay Nonstop Tampa to San Francisco service coming from United Airlines. The image features a San Francisco cable car and an open streetcar operated by the TECO Line Streetcar System in Tampa.

Isle of Man Horse Tramway 2017 Schedule Released - 03-February-2017

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2017 Timetable The cover of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2017 Timetable. (source: Isle of Man Railways)

Download the 2017 Isle of Man Horse Tramway Timetable.

We all owe a big thanks to the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, which has worked hard to keep the line intact. We all have to remain vigilant.

Cliff Lift in Folkestone Shut Down - 27-January-2017

Folkestone's Leas Cliff Lift shut down after operating since 1885. It was older than San Francisco's Powell Street cable car lines.

50th Annual Cable Car Classic - 15-November-2016

Cable Car Classic

Tennessee State University defeated Santa Clara University 69-61 to win the 50th Annual Cable Car Classic basketball tournament hosted by Santa Clara University.

1967 Cable Car Classic A program from the inaugural Cable Car Classic in 1967. The Santa Clara Broncos have hosted the holiday basketball tournament since 1967. Santa Clara won the tournament. Butch Kaufman of Western Kentucky was the MVP.

Dunedin Cable Tram Revival - 04-November-2016

The Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust has proposed a project with four steps to revive cable traction in Dunedin, New Zealand, the first and last city outside of San Francisco to have Hallidie-type cable car lines.

Step one would be to build a temporary museum in Mornington Park. The museum would house three Dunedin cable trams, one from the Mornington Tramway and two from the Roslyn Tramway. One of the Roslyn trams will be restored onsite. There will be a track that extends outside so people can view one of the trams and climb on it.

The remaining steps would build a 1.5km line on the High Street with a terminal and powerhouse in the park. Original cable trams would be used as rolling stock.

An article from the 31-October-2016 Otago Daily Times.

I wish great success to the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust.

New Book - A Thousand Points of Truth - 23-September-2016

A Thousand Points of Truth

VP Hughes has published a book about Confederate partisan ranger Colonel John Singleton Mosby, A Thousand Points of Truth. The reason I mention it on this page is that Hughes contacted me earlier this year for permission to use an image of a Geary Street, Park and Ocean cable train. It seems that Colonel Mosby had settled in San Francisco and worked as an attorney for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

According to articles from newspapers all over the United States, in July or August, 1891, when Mosby would have been 57 or 58 years old, he got into a "fracas" with the crew of a Geary Street cable train. The conductor would not let him cross from the trailer to the grip car. Mosby was beating the conductor when the gripman jumped on him. According to the Associated Press, "Three lady passengers assisted Mosby by pulling the gripmanís hair." Mosby and the gripman skedaddled while the conductor looked for a cop.

A Thousand Points of Truth by VP Hughes is available on Amazon as a hard cover or electronic book. There is an associated Facebook group.

Muni Heritage Weekend and Special Trip for Car 42 - 02-September-2016

Muni's 2016 Heritage Weekend will take place on September 24 and 25. Vintage trolley coaches will recreate Muni's original trolleybus line, the R-Howard. There will be lots of electric streetcars, including the two Blackpool boat trams and Car 578, built in 1896.

Frank Zepeda photo
California Street Cable Railroad O'Farrell-Jones-Hyde car 42 passes the famous Swensen's Ice Cream at Hyde and Union Streets during a test run. Thank you to Frank Zepeda for letting me use his photo. (Frank Zepeda photo. All rights reserved.)

Unique original-condition California Street Cable Railroad O'Farrell-Jones-Hyde car 42 will operate. On Saturday, it will make a special VIP-only trip out Hyde Street to Beach. It may be a nice opportunity to get some unique photos.

Updated - 01-October-2016

I didn't get to go, but read a little bit about it and find a link to some photos: Muni's 2016 Heritage Weekend

POMA 2000 Closed - 27-August-2016

POMA 2000, a cable-driven automated people mover which has operated in Laon, France since 1989, stopped running on 27-August-2016. The local government had decided that the line cost too much money to maintain. The line had three stations and the cars operated at 28 miles per hour.

Car 42 Visits Hyde and Beach - 17-August-2016

Unique original-condition California Street Cable Railroad O'Farrell-Jones-Hyde car 42 made its first trip to Hyde and Beach since the late 1950s. This was a test run to see if the car would make it. Gripman Val Lupiz said the car performed beautifully.

Isle of Man Horse Tramway Gets Two-Year Extension - 20-July-2016

The Isle of Man's parliament, the Tynewald, decided that the Isle of Man Horse Tramway can continue to operate through the 2018 season, and stated that the terminal should stay at the Sea Terminal.

Los Angeles Magazine: If Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Can Make Out on Angels Flight, We Should Be Able to, Too - 15-July-2016

La La Land Trailer Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on Angels Flight. (source: La La Land Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2016))

An article in Los Angeles Magazine, If Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Can Make Out on Angels Flight, We Should Be Able to, Too says that the trailer for their new movie, La La Land includes a shot the two stars necking on Angels Flight, the currently shut-down Los Angeles funicular. Film shoots like this raise some money to maintain the railroad.

Return of Powell Street Car 12 - 15-June-2016

Powell Street Car 12 returned to service after a two-year reconstruction. The car is now painted in the World War II-era colors of the Market Street Railway, green sides with white ends. Car 9 has an earlier version of the White Front colors, with red window sashes.

Happy Birthday, Willie Mays - 06-May-2016

Willie Mays Willie Mays and Giants President Larry Baer on car 24. (source: San Francisco Giants video)

The greatest Giant of all, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, received a nice surprise for his 85th birthday. Powell Street car 24 was fitted with a plaque honoring him. He took a ride on the car. San Francisco Police Department motorcycles provided an escort.

Auto on Powell Turntable - 04-May-2016

The California Highway Patrol chased a carload of people who had been egging cars. The chase ended with the auto on the Powell and Market turntable.

Cliff Lift in Bournemouth Damaged by Landslide - 24-April-2016

The East Cliff Lift in Bournemouth was damaged by a serious landslide.

Isle of Man Horse Tramway Schedule Released - 18-April-2016

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2016 Timetable The cover of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 2016 Timetable. (source: Isle of Man Railways)

The Isle of Man Horse Tramway is coming back for its 140th season. Download the complete timetable.

We all owe a big thanks to the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, which worked hard to get the line opened for this season. We all have to remain vigilant.

"Remembering The Castro Street Cable Car" - 05-April-2016


San Francisco neighborhood news site Hoodline ran an article by Shane Downing: "Remembering The Castro Street Cable Car". Shane Downing interviewed me for the article. He wrote a good story and found some excellent photos.

A Reprieve for the Isle of Man Horse Trams - 24-March-2016

A report from the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway states that the horse tramway will operate for its 140th season in 2016. There is no guarantee as to what will happen after that.

Amber Jones, The Third Gripwoman - 23-March-2016

A press release from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced that Amber Jones is the third person to serve as a cable car gripwoman. I wish her a safe and happy career.

"SFMTA Announces Third Woman Ever to Serve as Cable Car Grip
"Amber Jones joins the Cable Car ranks

"San Francisco -- Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all ground transportation in San Francisco, certified a new operator for its legendary cable car fleet making Amber Jones the third woman ever to join the ranks as a Cable Car grip.

"'Women are making history during Womenís History Month, and Iím proud of Amber Jones who began Cable Car service last week as the third woman ever to be promoted to Cable Car grip,' said Mayor Ed Lee. 'Amber is a role model for women in public service and will be an inspiration for other women looking to become Cable Car operators.'

"'It is fitting that we are able to certify the third woman ever as a Cable Car grip during Womenís History Month,' said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. 'Our Cable Car operators are ambassadors for this city and carry on a legacy that has served this city well. Ms. Jonesí certification is a tremendous accomplishment for herself, this agency and for upcoming women operators who hope to one day follow in her footsteps.'

"With her certification as a grip person last week, Jones became only the third woman in the rail lineís 143-year history to helm the iconic symbol of San Francisco transportation. This marks the first time two women will be a grip on the lines at the same time, as Jones will join Cable Carís second woman grip, Willa Johnson in service. Fannie Barnes, the first woman to serve as a Cable Car grip, retired in 2002.

"Jones has been an operator since 2008. She said: 'It's such a fun and exciting opportunity to work in a position where I get to show off such an amazing city I call home. Iím very proud and honored to be the third woman in history to drive a Cable Car in my hometown. San Francisco is such a diverse city with ample space and opportunity for goals to be reached and records to be broken for any race, gender or age and I'm happy to be a part of its history.'

"Conductors are usually based at the rear of the cable car. Grip persons are located in the front of the car and are responsible for operating the various hand and foot controls that propel and stop the 15,500 pound vehicles.

"Demanding and unforgiving, gripping a cable car requires extraordinary skills: arm, hand and upper body strength, mental and physical coordination, confidence and determination.

"Plan to join the Cable Car operators at the Bell Ringing Contest this year, scheduled for July 7, 2016."

San Francisco History Expo #6 - 06-March-2016

2016 History Expo

We went to the sixth annual San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. There was a very good crowd and more groups exhibiting than last year.

MSR banner Market Street Railway banner.

Market Street Railway had a nice exhibit. It was so crowded, I didn't get to talk to anyone. Across the aisle was the SFMTA Photo Archive exhibit. I complimented the docent on their nice work.

Cable Car Museum Cable Car Museum display.

The Friends of the Cable Car Museum had an extensive exhibit. I got to talk Mike Phipps, Jose Godoy and Mike Holmgren. Here is a model of a model Geary Street Park and Ocean Railway grip and trailer train.

The Bernal Heights History group had a skeletal, actual-size model of an earthquake shack. The rooms with the neighborhood groups were the most crowded.

The Pacifica Historical Society was there, too.

"How Cable Cars Became An Exclusively San Francisco Treat" - 26-February-2016


San Francisco neighborhood news site Hoodline ran an article by Geri Koeppel: "How Cable Cars Became An Exclusively San Francisco Treat". Geri Koeppel interviewed me for the article. I respect the way she worked to get the facts right.

Threat to Isle of Man Horse Trams - 26-January-2016

Horse-drawn trams have operated in Douglas, Isle of Man since 1876. On 22-January-2016, the Douglas Borough Council decided that since the line was losing money, it would be immediately terminated and would not begin service in its 140th year. This short-sighted decision drew a storm of controversy from the Manx and from around the world. Many people who would have visited Man to ride the trams will not go there.

On 26-January-2016, the lower house of the Manx Parliament, the House of Keys, appointed a committee to look for alternatives that could preserve the horse-drawn trams.

I signed two online petitions.

This shows that we in San Francisco should never take our E/F lines and cable trams for granted. We have to remain eternally vigilant.

Rey Morante, RIP - 12-January-2016

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 this day. Prayers for his friends and family.

News Archive

Go to top of page.

2017 Anniversaries

150 years ago - 1867
Feb 16 - Brazil's partly cable-operated S„o Paulo Railway began service.
Mar 06 - A steam train last ran on San Francisco's Market Street, operated by the Market Street Railroad
Mar 07 - Horse cars began running on San Francisco's Market Street and Valencia Street, operated by the Market Street Railroad
Dec 07 - The West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway in Manhattan was first demonstrated.

125 years ago - 1892
Jan 26 - A California Street cable car hit a Powell Street cable car and ran away down the hill. The California Street car stopped when it hit a wagon at Montgomery Street
Feb 04 - The US Army gave the Presidio and Ferries Railway to extend its Union Street cable line into the Presidio
Feb 17 - Geary Street Park and Ocean Railway crews distribute materials along the line to prepare for conversion to standard gauge
Mar 06 - A Sutter Street Railway Larkin Street cable car crossing Market severed the Market Street Cable Railway's cable
Mar 09 - The Market Street Cable Railway extended its McAllister Street line on D Street (now Fulton) to a spot between 7th and 8th Avenues
Mar 21 - The Mount Auburn Cable Railway's powerhouse burned down
Apr 08 - The King's Heights line of the Portland Cable Railway opened for service
Apr 26 - The Geary Street Park and Ocean Railway closed its line west of the powerhouse at Buchanan Street to allow for reconstruction to standard gauge
Apr 27 - San Francisco's first electric railroad, the San Francisco and San Mateo Railway, opened for service
May 29 - A fire at the J Hammond and Company factory destroyed six O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde cars being built for the California Street Cable Railroad
Jun 06 - The West Denver (11th Street) line of the Denver City Cable Railway opened for service
Jun 28 - Lisbon's Elevador da Bica, a street-running funicular, opened for service
Aug 02 - The Broadway/Piedmont Avenue line of Oakland's Consolidated Cable Company opened for service
Aug 06 - The Washington and Georgetown Railroad's Pennsylvania Avenue (Georgetown) and 14th Street lines opened for service
Aug 07 - The Geary Street Park and Ocean Railway converted from broad gauge to standard gauge and extended from Central (now Presidio) Avenue on Geary and 5th Avenue to D Street (now Fulton) at Golden Gate Park
Aug 30 - The Baltimore Traction Company's Gilmor Street line opened for service
Sep 23 - Cable traction pioneer Henry Casebolt died in San Francisco
Oct 15 - The San Diego Cable Railway stopped service.
Oct 15 - Two cars of Pittsburgh's Central Traction Company ran away and hit men marching in a political parade. Two people were killed and seven badly injured.

New York Giants record: 71-80, 8th place. Manager: Pat Powers.

100 years ago - 1917
Jul 26 - The Bleecker Street horse car line in Manhattan made its last run
Aug 12 - United Railroads of San Francisco carmen went on strike, demanding pay on a par with that of San Francisco Municipal Railway carmen

New York Giants record: 86-66, 4th place. Manager: John McGraw.

75 years ago - 1942
Feb 17 - Seattle's James Street cable car line was abandoned. Unlike the other Seattle cable lines, it was not replaced by buses.
Apr 05 - The Market Street Railway's Castro Street Hill line stopped service
Apr 05 - The Market Street Railway's Fillmore Hill counterbalance stopped service
Apr 14 - Seattle's Madison Street cable car line was replaced by buses.
May 08 - The Market Street Railway scrapped car 133, the last Market Street cable car which survived in original condition. The company didn't have enough space to store after it closed the Castro Street car barn
Aug 10 - Seattle's first cable car line on Yesler Way was replaced by buses.
Sep 02 - Seattle's Queen Anne Hill counterbalance, which had replaced the Front Street Cable Railway, was replaced by buses.
Sep 29 - The Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) closed on San Francisco's Treasure Island
Oct 26 - Melbourne's surviving cable tram lines were all replaced by buses

New York Giants record: 72-80, 6th place. Manager: Bill Terry.

50 years ago - 1967
Nov 10 - The Cable Car Museum at Washington and Mason was dedicated.
Dec 03 - Powell/Hyde car ran away on the Hyde Street hill and hit an auto at Bay. One person was killed and 40 were injured.

San Francisco Giants record: 93-68, 2nd place. Manager: Herman Franks.

25 years ago - 1992
Apr 15 - Presidential candidate Bill Clinton rode Powell Street Cable Car No. 26 near the Fairmont Hotel. Democrats stayed at the Fairmont.
Dec 05 - New Muni built cars Nos. 13, 21, and 49 are dedicated.

San Francisco Giants record: 75-87, 4th place. Manager: Roger Craig.

Anniversaries Archive

Go to top of page.

What's New

  • 01-April-2017
    • Picture of the Month: A San Francisco 49ers 2016 program celebrates the teams' 70th anniversary with a throwback image. This was for an exhibition game against the Denver Broncos.
    • On the Kitsch page: a 1963 Giants yearbook; 49ers program covers; a Pandora charm; a Starbucks gift card;
    • Added news item, banner and a review plugging Strephon Taylor's excellent documentary video San Francisco Cable Cars
    • On the Horse Car Home Page: The Isle of Man Horse Tramway will play an important part in the opening of the 2017 CAMRA Isle of Man Beer and Cider Festival. Also News item.
    • Added news items about an elderly man who died after being hit by a cable car and a cable car - electric auto collision
    • Changed toy cable car picture on the main page to rear three-quarter view of toy cable car 504, with free-standing figures.
    • Archived January 2017 What's New.
  • 01-March-2017
  • 01-February-2017

What's New Archive

Go to top of page.

Ten Years Ago

Ten 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 home page
Home/ What/ How/ Where & When/ Who/ Why
Chronology/ Miscellany/ Links/ Map/ Bibliography

If you have comments, suggestions, or kvetches email me at

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

Copyright 1996-2017 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-April-2017