Cable Car Lines in Other Cities
by Joe Thompson

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Omaha, Nebraska - Cable Tramway Company of Omaha

Omaha Cable Train A cable train in Omaha, Nebraska. (Source: "Cable Railways in Omaha," Omaha Daily Bee / Sunday, February 21, 1909.) October, 2014 Picture of the Month.

line: Harney Street

opened: 29-December-1887. 10th Street and Harney Street on Harney to 20th Street. 20th Street to Dodge Sreet. Dodge to 25th Street.

powerhouse: 20th Street and Harney Street SW

grip: Hovey single-jaw side or Gillham single-jaw side

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: open grip and trailer trains, double-ended

Terminals: crossovers

crossings: N/A

notes:

line: Dodge Street

opened: 29-December-1887. 10th Street at Jones Street on 10th Street to Dodge Sreet. Dodge to 20th Street. 20th to Cass Street.

extended: 28-June-1888. 20th Street from Cass Street to Lake Street.

extended: ??-???-1888. 10th Street from Jones Street to Union Station.

powerhouse: 20th Street and Harney Street SW

grip: Hovey single-jaw side or Gillham single-jaw side

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: open grip and trailer trains, double-ended

Terminals: crossovers

crossings: N/A

notes: Engineer Robert Gillham faced some problems in designing and building the Cable Tramway Company of Omaha. Because of interference from the Omaha Horse Railway, the company had to build parallel routes on Harney and Dodge Streets, which ran around the cental business district. Both streets had steep grades, especially Dodge. The line shared sections of 10th and 20th Streets with the Horse Railway and paid damages every year to the Horse Railway for the privilege. The system had a lot of curvature, which led to cables lasting an average of 90 days.

from History of the City of Omaha, Nebraska by By James Woodruff Savage, John Thomas Bell, Consul Willshire Butterfield, 1894.

The Cable Tramway Company of Omaha was incorporated in June, 1884, by the following named: Samuel R. Johnson, Charles B. Rustin, Isaac S. Hascall, Casper E. Yost and Fred. Drexel. There was a re-organization effected December 4, 1888, under the style of the Omaha Cable Tramway Company, a new franchise having been secured in May of that year, granting broader privileges, and giving the company the right to run its cars on all the streets of the city, and allowing it to use cable, electricity, or such other motive power as might be deemed advisable. The capital stock of the company was fixed at two million dollars. The operation of the line was commenced December, 1887, and soon thereafter four and a half miles of double track were in use. A splendid power-house, 132 by 140 feet in size was built in 1887, at the intersection of Harney and Twentieth Streets. The incorporators of the company, when re-organized, were S. R. Johnson, L. B. Williams, C. B. Rustin, W. V. Morse, B. F. Smith and S. D. Mercer. The following named were the officers of both of these companies: S. R. Johnson, president and treasurer; L. B. Williams, vice-president; C. B. Rustin, secretary.

The Tramway went bankrupt in 1888 and was reorganized as the Omaha Cable Tramway.

The cable lines did not long survive past the merger of the Cable Tramway, the Horse Railway and the Omaha Motor Railway into the Omaha Street Railway. The Street Railway converted the Harney line to electric operation on 07-July-1890. The Dodge line, cut back to 10th and Harney, continued until early January 1894.

from "Street Railway News," The Street Railway Journal April, 1888.

New York, N. Y.

The John Stephenson Co., Lim., have just made shipments of cars to Japan via Canadian Pacific and steamer from Vancouver, and are preparing shipments for Allegheny City, Pa.; Norfolk, Va.; Salt Lake City, U. T.; Chicago, Ill.; the City of Mexico; Bay City, Mich.; Lowell, Mass.; and Elmira, N. T. Their latest improved grip car, now in use at Omaha, Neb., has met with the most unqualified favor, and is without doubt the best of its kind yet produced. Illustrations of this car will appear in a subsequent issue.

Omaha, Neb.

Cable Tramway Co. of Omaha is about opening its Dodge and Twentieth street line. The North Twentieth street line is also completed. They will build a new single track to the base ball park.

from "Street Railway News," The Street Railway Journal May, 1888.

Omaha, Neb.

A Decision has been rendered in the suit of the Omaha Horse Railway Company against the Cable Tramway Company to determine the title of the Horse Railway Company to the exclusive right to operate street cars in the city. The plaintiff is declared to have the right to operate horse cars in Omaha to the exclusion of all other parties but when motive power other than horse power is used the right is not exclusive. The Cable Tramway Company is ordered to compensate the Horse Railway Company for damage done by the construction of a parallel cable line.

from "Equipment Notes," The Street Railway Journal May, 1888.

John Stephenson Company, Limited, is now filling orders for Chicago, Salt Lake City, Norfolk, Va.; Allegheny City, Pa.; Los Angeles, Cal.; New Haven, Conn.; Brunswick, Ga.; Omaha, Neb.; Dunedin, New Zealand; Conoepcion, Chili; City of Mexico; St. Paul, Brazil; Wellington, New Zealand. The new Stephenson grip car with improved track brake is making an excellent impression, being tasty, durable and efficient.

The Broderick & Bascom Rope Co. has received the following from the Cable Tramway Company of Omaha, Neb: "In answer to your inquiry regarding the servioe of cables furnished by you, I take pleasure in stating that the cables were put in and operating since the latter part of December '87. During this time we have encountered all kinds of weather and on several occasions our conduit has been filled with snow and water. This is our first cable and we have had green men. Thus far the cable shows very little wear and is in first class condition, and considering the many difficulties of a new road, I think it is giving remarkably good service, and judging from past experience, I shall be very much disappointed if it does not prove equal, if not superior to cables made by other companies."

interior view of a modern car built in the company's shops In 1909, the Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway published a weekly series of stories on the history of transit in Omaha in the Omaha Daily Bee.

Robert Gillham Engineer Robert Gillham designed and built the Cable Tramway Company of Omaha. From the 30-July-1897 Railway Age and Northwestern Railroader.

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Providence, Rhode Island - Providence Cable Tramway

Providence grip "SCREW SPINDLE GRIP -- PROVIDENCE R. I., CABLE LINE." From Street Railways: Their Construction, Operation and Maintenance by CB Fairchild, 1892. July, 2008 Picture of the Month.

line: College Hill

opened: 11-December-1889. From Market Square on College Street to Prospect Street. Outbound on Prospect from College to Angell Street. Angell to River Drive (?). River (?) to Waterman Street at Red Bridge. Waterman Street inbound to Prospect. Prospect to College.

powerhouse: Angell Street and River Drive (?)

grip: double-jaw side, wheel operated

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: open grip and trailer trains

turntables: crossovers at Market Square

crossings: N/A

notes: The Providence Cable Tramway was the only Hallidie-type cable car line in New England. The Union Railroad provided horse-car service to most parts of Providence (According to the 1887 Poor's Directory of Railway Officials, it operated "58.855 miles of road, owned 1,850 horses and 272 cars."), but not to Brown University and the wealthy neighborhood on the east side of College Hill. The direct route over the hill would be too steep for horse traction.

Walter Richmond, a resident of the East Side, organized the Providence Cable Tramway and secured a franchise against the opposition of the Union Railroad. The Union Railroad was unhappy about losing its monopoly in general and was particularly unhappy about having to shares its tracks on Westminster Street to Olneyville and back via Weybosset Street. The line's trailers would be pulled by horses along this section (Proceedings of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 1909, page 58).

Richmond engaged engineer Henry M Lane, who had designed Cincinnati's Mount Adams and Eden Park and Vine Street cable railways.

The cable line was difficult to operate because the streets it covered were not straight, and included both steep and undulating sections. Because of a difficult pull curve at Collect and Prospect, by the entrance to Brown University, the company used left-hand operation. The cable broke 17 times in the first six months ("Cables connect College Hill", Karen Davis, Providence Journal, 25-January-1999).

Despite the difficulties, the company made money and in due time was taken over by the Union Railroad. Union failed to buy two shares of the Tramway and so leased it for 50 years, beginning in April, 1895, and kept the corporate structure intact. The Union Railroad had already electrified its lines and was anxious to convert the Tramway's operation.

The stretch up the hill from Market Square to Brown University was too steep for electric operation. In April 1894, the grip cars had started pulling electric cars up the hills. The cars may have been the former trailers, with one axle motorized. The company converted the line to a counterbalance, similar to the one on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. Weights ran on rails in the conduit and cars would latch on at the bottom and top of the hill and help each other up and down.

The original counterbalance was too inflexible, so engineer-in-chief Milton H Brondson designed a system using the grip cars, motorized and enclosed, to latch onto the weights. The motorized cars could handle two electric cars each, switch themselves at Market Square, and ascend or descend alone, giving more flexibility.

A tunnel replaced the counterbalance in 1914.

Providence counterbalance car A former Providence cable car equipped for the counterbalance.

"Mr. M. H. (Milton Howard - JT) Bronsdon learned the business of his father (constructing engineer). His first work of importance was done at the age of 21 years, while foreman of construction of two cable railways at Los Angeles, Cal. (The Second Street Cable Railway and the Temple Street Cable Railway - JT), and afterward as master mechanic of one of them. He remained in Los Angeles from April, 1885, until May, 1889, when he went to Denver, Col., as manager of the Denver Tramway for seven months. He resigned his position in order to accept the office of superintendent of Providence Cable Tramway of Providence, R. I. In March, 1895, the road changed to electric motive power, and Mr. Bronsdon was appointed engineer-in-chief for the Union R.R. Co. of Providence, R.I., which position he now holds. In 1895 he designed and built the Inclined Counterweight System (his own patented invention) on the steep incline of College Street, Providence. In 1896, he built a similar railway at Morgan Park, 1ll. In 1898, he built the Inclined Railway Systems on St. Anthony's Hill, at St. Paul, Minn." (Bronsdon and Box Families: Part I. by Colonel Lucius B Marsh and Mrs Harriet F Parker, 1902)

from Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioner, January Session, 1891.

REPORT OF PROVIDENCE CABLE TRAMWAY COMPANY.

Incorporated 1884. Road built in 1889. Began running January 1, 1890.

OFFICERS.

Walter RichmondPresidentProvidence, R. I.
W. B. TalbotTreas. and Sec'yProvidence, R. I.
Milton H. BronsonSuperintendentProvidence, R. I.

DIRECTORS.

Walter RichmondProvidence, R. I.
George W. ButtsProvidence, R. I.
Henry G. RussellProvidence, R. I.
F. E. RichmondProvidence, R. I.
Alfred StoneProvidence, R. I.
Joseph BaniganProvidence, R. I.
Charles FletcherProvidence, R. I.

Returns for Six Months Ending June 30, 1890.

Capital Stock actually paid in (common)$300,000.00
Capital Stock actually paid in (preferred)None.
Total amount of funded debtNone.
Total amount of floating debt27,700.00
Total amount of receipts from passengers38,946.55
Total amount of receipts from all other sources123.76
Total receipts39,070.31
Total running expenses, including interest and taxes33,573.96
Total net earnings5,496.35
Rate of dividend paid to stockholdersNone.
Total surplus after paying dividendNone.
Total surplus at commencement of yearNone.
Expended during the year for new rolling stock — for summer cars18,200.00
Expended during the year for repairs on rolling stockNone.
Balance of rolling stock account at commencement of yearNone.
Balance of rolling stock account at close of six months49,625.98
Balance of construction account at close of six months145,769.17
Total number of passengers carried during six months778,931
Total number of tons merchandise carried during six monthsNone.
Number of horses owned116
Cost of same as account now stands16,380.00
Number of passenger cars owned or leased — including eight motorcars48
Cost of same as account now stands49,625.98
Total length of road3 Miles.
Miles of track in this State3 "
Number of passengers killed during six monthsNone.
Number of passengers injured during six monthsNone.
*Number of persons injured at grade-crossings1
Number of employees killedNone.
Number of employees injuredNone.
Rate of fare5 cents.

* Mr. W. D. Watson was fatally injured Jan. 26, 1890, (and died within a week) from attempting to cross in front of a grip car on Hope street, corner of Waterman.

from ACCIDENTS DURING 1890.

page 43

Jan. 26. WALTER D. WATSON, of Providence, while attempting to drive in a carriage across Waterman street, in front of grip car No. 18, of the Providence Cable Tramway Co., was struck by the car and so severely injured that lie died on the following Wednesday.

page 46

May 15. JOHN COYNE, a laborer in the employ of the highway department, city of Providence, was struck by a car of the Providence Cable Tramway Co. on Angcll Street, and received severe injuries about the hips. He saw the car and stepped aside, but not far enough.

page 47

July 19. ROY EVERETT BRYANT, 7 years old, was playing with other boys on South Angell street, Providence, and while running backward was struck by a grip-car of the Providence Cable Tramway Co. and run over. He was taken to the Rhode Island Hospital, and his right leg amputated below the knee. He was discharged from the Hospital cured, on the 7th of August.

from CHANGES IN OWNERSHIP.

page 89

The Providence Cable Tramway, having accomplished its object and secured direct transportation to the residents of the "East side," has been absorbed by the Union Railroad Company, and is now operated by that company. This I regard as a move in the right direction, as whenever two or more rival companies use the same tracks, there will necessarily be more or less friction between employees.

from Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioner, For the Year Ending December 31, 1893.

REPORT OF PROVIDENCE CABLE TRAMWAY COMPANY.

Incorporated July 24, 1884.

OFFICERS.

Nelson W. AldrichPresidentProvidence, R. I.
A. T. PotterGeneral ManagerProvidence, R. I.
C. A. BabcockTreasurerProvidence, R. I.
H. V. A. JoslinSecretaryProvidence, R. I.
M. H. BronsdonSuperintendentProvidence, R. I.

DIRECTORS.

Nelson W. AldrichProvidence, R. I.
Benjamin A. JacksonProvidence, R. I.
Charles H. PerkinsProvidence, R. I.
Gorham P. PomroyProvidence, R. I.
George W. R. MattesonProvidence, R. I.
Nicholas SheldonProvidence, R. I.
Arthur H. WatsonProvidence, R. I.

Returns for Six Months Ending June 30, 1893.

Capital Stock actually paid in (common)$300,000.00
Capital Stock actually paid in (preferred)None.
Funded debtNone.
Floating debt420.00
Total gross debt420.00
Construction account167,810.27
Equipment account116,010.08
All other assets77,851.00
Total property and assets361,671.30
Receipts passenger department152,210.60
Receipts from all other sourcesNone.
Total receipts152,210.60
Operating expenses72,744.07
Interest paid within the year88.23
Taxes paid within the year2,000.30
Salaries and wages of employees50,382.56
All other expendituresNone.
Total expenditures125,210.15
Net earnings27,000.45
Rate and amount of dividend paidNone.
Surplus61,251.30
Surplus at beginning of year34,250.85
Expended during year for new rolling stockNone.
Expended during year for repairs of rolling stock4,295.29
Rolling stock account at beginning of year61,787.73
Rolling stock account at end of year61,787.73
Expended for maintenance of way7,443.04
How much of last amount charged to construction accountNone.
How much of same charged to expense accountAll.
Balance of construction account at beginning of year167,810.27
Balance of construction account at end of year167,810.27
Total number of passengers carried during the year3,044,212
Number of horses147
Number of motor or grip cars14
Number of passenger cars44
Total length of road in miles (main track)3.105
Miles of road in this State (main track)3.105
Miles of track in this State3.428
Tons of new steel rails laid during the yearNone.
Number of ties laid during the yearNone.
Number of passengers killed during the year in this StateNone.
Number of passengers injured during the year in this State5
Number of persons killed at grade crossingsNone.
Number of persons injured at grade crossingsNone.
Number of persons walking on or crossing the track killedNone.
Number of persons walking on or crossing the track injuredNone.
Number of employees killedNone.
Number of employees injuredNone.
Average number of persons employed in this State95
Rate of fare5 cts.

from ACCIDENTS DURING THE YEAR 1893.

page 47

Feb. 26. Antonio De Angelis stepped from car No. 14, Providence Cable Tramway Co., while it was in motion, but fell and broke his leg. He was taken to the R. I. Hospital.

May 29. As car No. 40, Providence Cable Tramway Co., drawn by horses, was passing up Dyer avenue, Johnston, a boy by the name of Willie Williams fell from the car and one wheel passed over his leg. He was taken to the R. I. Hospital.

from Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioner, For the Year Ending December 31, 1894.

REPORT OF PROVIDENCE CABLE TRAMWAY COMPANY.

Incorporated July 24, 1884.

OFFICERS.

Nelson W. AldrichPresidentProvidence, R. I.
A. T. PotterGeneral ManagerProvidence, R. I.
C. A. BabcockTreasurerProvidence, R. I.
H. V. A. JoslinSecretaryProvidence, R. I.
M. H. BronsdonSuperintendentProvidence, R. I.

DIRECTORS.

Nelson W. AldrichProvidence, R. I.
Benjamin A. JacksonProvidence, R. I.
Charles H. PerkinsProvidence, R. I.
Gorham P. PomroyProvidence, R. I.
George W. R. MattesonProvidence, R. I.
Nicholas SheldonProvidence, R. I.
Arthur H. WatsonProvidence, R. I.

Returns for the year ending June 30, 1894.

Capital Stock actually paid in (common)$300,000.00
Capital Stock actually paid in (preferred)None.
Funded debtNone.
Floating debt330.00
Total gross debt330.00
Construction account167,810.27
Equipment account118,575.94
All other assets108,040.87
Total property and assets394,627.08
Receipts passenger department142,641.20
Receipts from all other sourcesNone.
Total receipts143,641.20
Operating expenses60,240.21
Interest paid within the yearNone.
Taxes paid within the year3,351.36
Salaries and wages46,203.85
All other expendituresNone.
Total expenditures109,795.43
Net earnings32,845.78
Rate and amount of dividend paidNone.
Surplus94,097.08
Surplus at beginning of year61,251.30
Expended during year for new rolling stock18.265.91
Expended during year for repairs of rolling stock2,968.88
Rolling stock account at beginning of year61,787.73
Rolling stock account at end of year80,033.64
Expended for maintenance of way6,667.17
How much of last amount charged to construction accountNone.
How much of same charged to expense accountAll.
Balance of construction account at beginning of year167,810.27
Balance of construction account at end of year167,810.27
Total number of passengers carried during the year2,852,824
Number of horses-
Number of motor or grip cars29
Number of passenger cars29
Total length of road in miles3.105
Miles of road in this State3.105
Miles of track3.428
Tons of new steel rails laid during the yearNone.
Number of ties laid during the yearNone.
Number of passengers killed during the year in this StateNone.
Number of passengers injured during the year in this StateNone.
Number of persons killed at grade crossingsNone.
Number of persons injured at grade crossingsNone.
Number of persons killedNone.
Number of persons injured1
Number of employees killedNone.
Number of employees injuredNone.
Average number of persons employed in this State70
Rate of fare5 cts.

CABLE TRAMWAY.

page 39

When the Union horse system was changed to an electric that portion of the Providence Cable Tramway line which had been operated by horse power was also transformed. Within the past year authority has been given the company to substitute electric power for the propulsion of cars upon the cable portion. The operation of cars upon the excessive grade on College Hill is to be assisted by a system of counterweights similar to those in successful use in the cities of Seattle and Portland. Without some such device it would be unsafe to make the ascent and descent of so heavy a grade, and this provision is being made by the company so as to preclude to the greatest extent any possible liability to accident.

from ACCIDENTS.

page 41

February 6. Herbert Dyer of Providence, while coasting down Grand Avenue, was struck by cable car No. 30, Providence Cable Co., and somewhat injured.

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Denver - Denver Tramway Company

notes: The Denver Tramway Company built five lines that opened between late 1888 and late 1889. The lines faced no major grades, and the company started to convert them to electric in 1893.

Denver cable car Denver Tramway car 40, preserved at the Forney Transportation Museum. Photo courtesy of the Forney Transportation Museum. All rights reserved. March, 2006 Picture of the Month.

Remarkably, one of the Denver Tramway's cable cars survives. Pamela Bestall, director of the Forney Transportation Museum, explains that the car was built in 1886 by the Laclede Car Company of Saint Louis, as horse car 271. It was converted to cable car 40 in 1888 or later. It was later renumbered 901. When the Denver Tramway converted from cable to electric operation, most of the cable cars were burned. This car survived and was used as a tool shed by the Denver Regional Transportation District. When a Mister Horn, a former RTD employee, heard that the car (tool shed) was going to be destroyed, he arranged to purchase it and moved it to his ranch near Conifer. After the museum purchased it, Bill Wright of Fort Collins, Colorado coordinated its extensive restoration.

Denver Tramway Ticket
(Source: "Denver and Its Street Railways." Street Railway Journal. March, 1893.)

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Paris - Tramway Funiculaire de Belleville

Paris cable tram car "Élévation d'une voiture funiculaire" (View of a funicular car) from the article "Tramway Funiculaire De Belleville" by G De Burgraff, from Le Magasin Pittoresque, 1890. November, 2003 Picture of the Month.

line: Belleville

opened: 25-Aug-1891. From La Place de la République on Rues du Faubourg-du-Temple and Belleville to the Church of Belleville

powerhouse: Top of la rue de Belleville

grip: single-jaw side

gauge: 1M

cars: closed grip and trailer trains

turntables: ?

crossings: N/A

notes: The Tramway Funiculaire de Belleville was designed and built by Fulgence Bienvenüe, who later built the Paris Metro. It was a popular line, carrying up to 5 million passengers a year.

There was one serious accident on the line. In 1906, a car ran away down the hill to the Place de la République, running at speeds up to 120 kmh. Over 20 people were injured.

The cable line ran until 18-Jul-1924, when it was replaced by a bus.

Read the article "Tramway Funiculaire De Belleville" by G De Burgraff, from Le Magasin Pittoresque, 1890.

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