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At the corner of Montgomery and Washington, Presidio and Ferries customers transferred from Washington/Jackson horse cars to cable trains that ran out Columbus to Union
and then out Union to Steiner. Photo circa 1890.
(Source: OpenSFHistory / wnp26.335.jpg).
August, 2018 Picture of the Month.
line: Union Street
opened: 23-Oct-1880. Montgomery Street (now Columbus Avenue) from Washington to Union,
Union to Steiner.
extended: 1892. Union from Steiner to Baker, Baker to Lombard, Lombard to the Presidio.
Private right of way in the Presidio to the main post.
powerhouse: Union and Leavenworth
grip: Hallidie bottom grip, screw-operated
grip: converted to Stut grip, lever-operated (?) in 1892. The shanks of the Hallidie grip were not strong enough to go around the pull curves in the extension.
cars: double-ended dummy & trailer trains.
turntables: cross overs.
notes: This was the only cable car line other than the Clay Street Hill Railroad to use the
Hallidie bottom grip. It was the first cable car line to go around a
corner, with a let-go curve at Columbus & Union. All previous lines had
operated straight from terminous to terminous.
The company operated a horse-car line on Washington annd Jackson
which connected the Ferry Building to the eastern end cable line. Before
the 1892 extension, the company ran a steam dummy line on Steiner,
Greenwich, Baker, and private right of way to the Presidio. After the
extension, the steam line ran on Baker from Greenwich to the Harbor View
Resort (now the Marina district). Read about the company's steam
operations in "When Steam Ran on The
Streets of San Francisco, Part I," by Walter Rice and Emiliano
The Hallidie grip's shanks were not strong enough to stand the pull
curve in the extension, so it was replaced by a new grip, designed by JCH Stut.
Cable car operations were wiped out by the earthquake and fire in
1906. The entire system was converted to an electric line. The company
was taken over by the city in 1913. The line became the E Union Street
line of the San Francisco Municipal Railway.
It is now the 41 Union trolley bus line.
An ad offering a nice lot at Leavenworth and Green, handy to the Clay Street and
Union Street lines. From the 26-July-1881 Daily Alta California.
Some contemporary newspaper articles about operations and incidents.
- "A shocking accident occurred this afternoon on the line of the steam dummy connecting with the Union street cable road..."
(Sacramento Daily Union, Monday, May 14, 1883)
- "Union street cable cars will run extra trips all day direct to the Gardens for the best comfort of visitors."
(Daily Alta California, Wednesday, April 30, 1884)
- "The cars of the Union street Cable Railroad were running as usual last night, the repairs to the machinery having been completed..."
(Daily Alta California, Thursday, February 26, 1885)
- "...four hoodlums garroted and robbed conductor Hearne while riding in one of the cars of the Union street cable line..."
(Santa Barbara Daily Press, Monday, July 20, 1885)
- "...one of the Union street cable cars, while ascending the steep hill between Larkin and Polk streets, broke its grip and started back down the hill at a rapid rate..."
(Sacramento Daily Union, Wednesday, November 18, 1885)
- "The grip broke on the Union street cable line Tuesday afternoon..."
(Santa Cruz Sentinel, Friday, November 20, 1885)
- "The McAllister and the Union Street cable lines were blockaded from the mud washed into the cable slots..."
(Santa Barbara Morning Press, Tuesday, December 22, 1885)
- "A new turn-table will be put in at the Presedio, beyond Lyon street..."
(Daily Alta California, Sunday, February 8, 1891)
- "A Union street cable car was stopped in time to prevent a collisionA Union street cable car was stopped in time to prevent a collision..."
(Los Angeles Herald, Friday, January 1, 1892)
- "Otto W. Mall, conductor on the Union street cable line, bas fallen heir to a fortune of half a million dollars and now says he is a Danish count..."
(Los Angeles Herald, Thursday, July 11, 1895)
- "Just then the car stopped with a sudden jerk, and the three were thrown backward over the dashboard to the cobblestone pavement..."
(San Francisco Call, Sunday, February 21, 1897)
- "Leaky gas pipes passing under the wheel pit of the Union Street Cable Car Company at the junction of Montgomery avenue and Washington street nearly cost Peter Aggesson, an oiler, his life..."
(San Francisco Call, Friday, January 20, 1899)
- "Edmund J. Bovett..died at his home...yesterday morning from injuries received while working at the Union street cable house..."
(San Francisco Call, Monday, February 13, 1899)
- "Dummy No. 5 of the Union street cable line crashed into car No. 414 of the Powell street line last night shortly before 10 o'clock at Mason and Union streets..."
(San Francisco Call, Tuesday, November 18, 1902)
- "...granting to the Presidio and Ferries Railway Company a permit to convert the Union street cable road into an overhead electric trolley system..."
(San Francisco Call, Wednesday, September 12, 1906)
Presidio & Ferries customers transferred from Washington/Jackson horse cars to cable trains
that ran out Columbus to Union. Note the broad gauge tracks.
Presidio & Ferries tracks along Union Street, severely twisted by the 1906 Earthquake
(Source: [group 50:15410], Zelda Mackay Collection of Stereographic Views,
BANC PIC 1905.14906-.16118 -- STER, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).
Presidio and Ferries Railway profile
Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering
Record (LC-HABS/HAER) HAER,CAL,38-SANFRA,137-2)
Union/Leavenworth powerhouse in 1899. Union is to the right. (Source:
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, San Francisco,
1899-1900, Vol 4, Sheet 394).
Jefferson/Lyon roundhouse in 1899. Jefferson is at the top of the map and
Lyon is to the right. (Source:
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, San Francisco,
1899-1900, Vol 4, Sheet 389).
Harbor View with a Presidio and Ferries steam train
(Source: "The Various Bathing Resorts," San Francisco Call, 25-May-1895).
Presidio & Ferries steam dummy operating on the Harbor View extension before 1906
(Source: [group 5:50b], Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection, ca. 1850-ca. 1968,
BANC PIC 1905.17500--ALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).
A notice that the 24 piece US Presidio Band would play noon concerts every Wednesday, Saturday and
Sunday at Seaside Gardens, "Presidio -- Terminus of Union-street Cable Road."
From the 09-July-1882 Daily Alta California.
Hello Central, Give Me the Presidio & Ferries
Here is the Presidio & Ferries Railway's listing in the February, 1903
Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company San Francisco phone
East 802. Presidio & Ferries R. R. Co., Ofc. Union & Sharps Pl.
Dedicated volunteers at
San Francisco Genealogy
typed in every page of the book.
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