Who Was Important in the History of the Cable Car?

by Joe Thompson

Where Should I Go from Here? Visit the Map

Barnes, Fannie Mae

Fanny Barnes Fannie Barnes ComMUNIty ad. April 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Fannie Mae Barnes became the first woman to operate a cable car grip on 15-Jan-1998.

Barnes was 52 years old at the time. She became a Muni bus driver in 1981. Before taking the grip, Barnes had served as a cable car conductor for six years.

The 25-day training class has an 80% washout rate. No other woman had made it past the first day of training class.

On 18-Jan-2002 she pulled grip on Car 9 as it carried the Olympic Torch on its way up the Hyde Street Hill.

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Bartlett, Winthrop

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.

WINTHROP BARTLETT.
Winthrop Bartlett

Winthrop Bartlett, of St. Louis, Mo., has been chiefly identified with the St. Louis cable railways. He was graduated from Washington University of that city in 1874, with the degree of Civil Engineer, and was previously connected with the Missouri Geological Survey. After graduation he entered the office of the master mechanic of the Wabash Railway Company as mechanical draughtsman, and for seven years, commencing in 1876, he was resident engineer of the St. Louis division of the Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company. Since severing his connection with that company Mr. Bartlett has devoted himself excluiively to the constructing and operating departments of street railways in St. Louis, the most important of which are the following: Olive Street Cable Railway, Broadway Cable Railway. St. Louis & Suburban Railway (cable and electric), Market Street Railway (electric), Laclede & Fourth Street Railway (electric), Cass Avenue & Fair Ground Railway. Benton-Bellefontaine Electric Railway, Grand Avenue Railway, Midland Railway and Southern Railway. Mr. Bartlett is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the St. Louis Engineers' Club.

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Bontecou, Daniel

From the Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808-1908, Volume 3 by Carrie Westlake Whitney, pages 130-131.

DANIEL BONTECOU.

Daniel Bontecou, consulting civil engineer of Kansas City, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, September 14, 1851, a son of W. E. and C. C. Bontecou. The family comes of Huguenot ancestry, Pierre Bontecou having settled in New York in 1684 on his emigration from France.

Daniel Bontecou acquired his early education in Boston and New York and pursued a scientific course in the College of the City of New York, from which he was graduated in 1871 with the degree of Bachelor of Science. His initial step in the business world was made as assistant engineer for the New York Central Railroad, the New York state canals and the department of public parks of New York city. In 1881 he came to Kansas City, where he had formed a partnership with 'William B. Knight under the firm style of Knight it Bontecou. civil engineers. This relation was maintained for ten years and since 1890 Mr. Bontecou has been alone in the practice of his profession. He has been accorded a liberal and representative clientage. He was chief engineer for the Kansas City Belt Railway Company from 1882 until 1886, was chief engineer of the Grand Avenue Railway Company (street railway) from 1886 until 1888, and from 1889 until 1893 was engaged in the construction of the Cable Railway System for the Capital Traction Company of Washington, D. C. He was chief engineer of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad and associated companies from 1890 until 1901, when the road was sold. In the latter year he became consulting engineer for the Metropolitan Street Railway and Lighting Company of Kansas City and so continued for a year. Since 1901 he has acted only as consulting engineer and has been associated with the United Zinc & Chemical Company, the Kansas City Portland Cement Company, the Hawkeye Portland Cement Company and various other interests.

In 1885 Mr. Bontecou was married to Miss Nathalie Holdredge, of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He belongs to the Phi Beta Kappa, the Country Club and the American Society of Civil Engineers, of which he was a director from 1896 until 1898. He has gained wide distinction as a representative of his profession, his ability classing him with those who are foremost in the ranks of civil engineers.

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Bowen, Mennard Kener

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.

M. K. BOWEN.
MK Bowen

M. K. Bowen, superintendent of the Chicago City Railway Company, was born December 10, 1856, at Jefferson Barracks, Mo. He commenced the practice of civil engineering, by acting as engineer of the city of St. Louis. During 1883, he was appointed engineer on surveys and construction on the lines of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, also on the Iron Mountain Railroad. From 1883 to 1887, he was United States assistant engineer on surveys and construction, and was stationed at New Orleans, La.

It was in the latter year that Mr. Bowen first became connected with street railways, being appointed chief engineer and superintendent of the Kansas City Cable Railway, of Kansas City, Mo. He remained with this company for four years, during which he raised the system to a high state of efficiency and improved the operation to a marked degree. Early in 1891, he resigned this position to enter the electric railway field, being appointed agent in New York City for the Short Electric Railway Company. Later in the year, however, he was offered and accepted the position of superintendent of the Chicago City Railway Company, which office he now holds. In this capacity Mr. Bowen has had opportunity to show the executive ability which he possesses, and has met with well deserved success in the operation of this line.

From the May, 1899 Street Railway Journal, pages 334-335.

Death of M. K. Bowen
MK Bowen

Menard Kenner Bowen. president of the Chicago City Railway Company, died on Sunday evening, April 9. shortly after an operation for acute appendicitis. He left his office Friday afternoon in his usual health, intending, the following day, to start for Colorado Springs upon a holiday, but in the evening severe pains came on and at a consultation of physicians at midnight, the trouble was recognized as appendicitis and in an advanced stage, and it was determined to remove him to the Chicago Hospital for an operation. This was performed Saturday morning at an early hour, but the disease had progressed too far to be checked, and although the patient rallied after the operation and made a hard struggle for life, the end came at about nine o'clock Sunday evening.

The funeral on Wednesday was one of the most impressive ever seen in Chicago, by reason of the presence in the assembly at Mr. Bowen's residence of many hundred street railway employees, as well ai some of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens of Chicago. An escort of 800 men in the train service department of the Chicago City Railway, with the band of the Cottage Grove Avenue Trainmen's Association playing a funeral march, accompanied the body to the train for Jackson, where it was to be interred. The entire procession was over half a mile long. Mr. Bowen leaves a widow and two children, twelve and four years old, respectively.

It is probable that few street railway managers have so fully won the confidence and affectionate regard of their employees as M. K. Bowen. When he became superintendent of the Chicago City Railway in 1891, it was determined by the employees, then a rough, heterogeneous mass of men of all nationalities, and practically all members of labor unions, to make the new superintendent's work as hard as possible, and, in fact, to "run him out of town." Instead of accomplishing this, the unruly element was weeded out, and a strong and coherent body of employees was formed, which quickly came to look upon Mr. Bowen as an absolutely fairminded, straightforward man, on whose sense of justice they could rely and whose magnificent ability as an organizer and manager they could admire. Mr. Bowen has rarely failed in carrying out any plan which he had at heart, and his directors recognized his services by advancing him from the position of superintendent to that of general manager, and eventually of president of the company -- a company, one of the strongest and most prosperous in the United States. It is characteristic of the man that when early on Saturday morning he knew that the operation must be performed, and realized as others did not that the result of his long struggle of years against disease was likely to be fatal, he put aside his own pain and trouble long enough to send for Superintendent Nagle. of the Chicago City Company, to whom he gave some final directions concerning its management, and bade farewell.

Mr. Bowen was a man in the prime of life, being but forty-one years of age. His father was Gen. John S. Bowen. a graduate of West Point, and his grandfather. Pierre Menard, first Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois. He was educated at St. Louis and Washington Universities, and at the age of nineteen, entered the Government service as assistant engineer in civil engineering work on the Mississippi River. In 1880 he was engineer in charge of the topographical survey of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway from Fort Smith. Ark., to California. He first became identified with street railway work in Kansas City, becoming chief engineer and superintendent of construction for the Kansas City Railway Company, then building its cable line. A little latrr he became the New York representative of the Short Electric Railway Company, and in 1891 entered upon his eight years' service with the Chicago City Railway Company.

During his connection with this system Mr. Bowen was instrumental in bringing about important changes and extensions. The methods of conducting the business of the company were revised, new lines constructed, old ones rebuilt, and the motive power changed to electricity on all but the trunk lines, which are operated by cables. Mr. Bowen himself made no pretensions to inventive genius, nevertheless he demonstrated his ability to design and improve methods, and his opinion on all matters pertaining to street railway management had come to be highly regarded.

To his many friends in street railway circles. Mr. Bowen's death causes grief as at the loss of a close personal friend. He was singularly winning and generous in his friendships, granting to all credit for the best intentions and rarely taking offence. An unkindly word of another was almost unheard from his lips, for his principle in life seemed to be to "think no evil of any man." He was a rare character and a friend long to be remembered among those who enjoyed his friendship.

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Brooks, Benjamin H

Benjamin H Brooks
Benjamin H Brooks (Source: SF Public Utilities Commission).

Benjamin H Brooks was the first person to propose a cable railway in San Francisco.

Brooks, the son of a ship owner and captain, was a successful attorney. He was the first lawyer in the state who would take the cases from Chinese clients.

City records show that Brooks was granted a franchise for a cable line in 1870, along with C S Bushnell, E W Steele, and Abner Doubleday (the man who didn't invent baseball in Cooperstown, NY). They proposed a long system from downtown on various streets out to Cow Hollow. Brooks and engineer W H Hepburn worked out many of the mechanical details of the system. Brooks and his associates were unable to find financing, and Brooks' legal business was time consuming, so they sold their franchise to Andrew Smith Hallidie, a wire cable manufacturer.

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Colam, William Newby

Thank you to John Colam, a cousin of William Newby Colam, for providing the photograph and the biographical information.
William Newby Colam William Newby Colam. Click on the image for a larger view. Photo provided by John Colam. All rights reserved.

William Newby Colam was a British civil engineer who was heavily involved in building cable tramways. He was born on 13-December-1853 at Hackney, now a borough of London. He died on 06-February-1930 at Hove, near Brighton. Sir Harold Nugent Colam, his son, was also a civil engineer, who was an important figure in the railway system of India. I have found several articles written by William Newby Colam, mostly as papers presented at meetings of the Incorporated Association of Municipal and County Engineers. In this he reminds me of my father, who was very active in the Association of Engineering Geologists, frequently presenting papers at their monthly and yearly meetings. In 1891 Colam was President of the Society of Engineers.

Colam was involved in the design and building of the first Hallidie-type cable tramway in Europe, London's Highgate Hill Cable Tramway. He wrote about the line in his 1885 paper Cable Tramways.

Colam was the designer and engineer of the Edinburgh Northern Cable Tramways. He wrote about the company's lines in his 1890 paper Edinburgh Northern Cable Tramways. In 1897, he wrote a follow-up article entitled Conversion of Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello Horse Tramways Systems Into Cable Traction.

Colam designed the cable tramway in Matlock.

I chose to list him as Colam, Willian Newby rather than Newby Colam, William because I found several references that called him "Mr Colam" rather than "Mr Newby Colam."

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Casebolt, Henry

Henry Casebolt was born in Virginia. He came to California in 1851 and established himself as a builder and inventor. He built houses, carriages, and street railroad cars. He served as the contractor for the Sutter Street Railroad (later Railway) and wound up as the principal owner when the promoters defaulted.
Henry Casebolt Henry Casebolt (Source: San Francisco Morning Call, Saturday, September 24, 1892).

Casebolt designed the famous horse-drawn balloon car for the Sutter Street Railway. The body of this car sat on a pivot, so the car could change ends without a turntable. The cars were attractive to look at, but terrible to ride in when the pivots became worn and the cars became wobbly.
Baloon Car Casebolt's 1876 balloon car. (Source: San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, AAC-8118).

The Sutter Street company was not financially successful as a horsecar line. Casebolt saw Hallidie's success with the Clay Street Hill Railroad and proposed that Sutter Street adopt cable technology. Casebolt and his board opened negotiations with Hallidie and his backers. In a preview of patent wars to come, Hallidie demanded $50,000.00 a year and a healthy royalty for each grip used in return for a license to use his patents. Casebolt dropped the negotiations and produced his own grip, with the help of engineer Asa Hovey.

Casebolt and Hovey's side grip with lever control was better than the Hallidie wheel-operated bottom grip.

Beyond just building a better grip, Casebolt deserves recognition for having the idea that cable propulsion could work on flat streets as well as on steep hills.

Casebolt sold his interest in the Sutter Street Railway on 28-January-1880.

One of Casebolt's interesting later projects was his "Elevated Railroad", a short line built in Piedmont to demonstrate an overhead cable line. It was not successful.

Henry Casebolt died at his home on Pierce Street on 23-September-1892. Read his obituary from the Daily Alta California.

Casebolt Home I took this photo of Henry Casebolt's home, now numbered 2727 Pierce Street, on 22-March-2010.

From the 1890 Langley's San Francisco Directory at San Francisco Genealogy, page 290:

Casebolt, Henry, r. 2700 Pierce

I also noticed this listing:

Casebolt, Simon M., car repairer Sutter St. Ry, r. 2528 1/2 Sutter

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.

HENRY CASEBOLT.
Henry Casebolt

Henry Casebolt, one of the pioneers of cable railways, was born in Virginia in 1816, and moved to California in 1852. He was an incorporator of the Front Street, Mission Street & Ocean Railway Company, which was chartered in 1873. This was one of the earliest lines in San Francisco, and the predecessor of the Sutter Street Railway Company.

As soon as the cable had proved successful on the Clay Street line Mr. Casebolt determined to introduce his system on the Sutter Street line, and planned and engineered the entire work. In the course of this work he invented a number of appliances which brought about marked economy. For these improvements he took out a number of patents.

Mr. Casebolt died September 23, 1892.

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Connett, AN

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 318.

A. N. CONNETT.
AN Connett

A. N. Connett, at present chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway Company, of Washington, D. C, was born in Connecticut, in 1859, and was graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, of Troy, N. Y.. in 1880, as civil engineer. He entered the street railway field in the early part of 1888, with Knight & Bontecou, of Kansas City. After the completion by that firm of the 18ih Street line of the Metropolitan system of that city he supervised the construction of conduit electric railways for the Bentley-Knight Company, in Allegheny City, Boston and New York: Afterwards he acted as assistant engineer to Daniel Bontecou on the construction of the 7th Street cable line, of Washington, D. C, and upon the completion of this line was made principal assistant to F. H. Hambleton in the construction of the Druid Hill cable line of the Baltimore Traction Company.

After the completion of this line Mr. Connett was connected for some time with the engineering corps at work on the Broadway cable railway, New York, and while so engaged was appointed chief engineer of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway. During the three years in which he was connected with this company, he reconstructed the entire system, installing twenty-two miles of cable railway, with three power stations and twenty three miles of electric railway, including one of the largest electric power stations in Baltimore. Upon the starting of the cable lines, he was appointed general manager in addition to chief engineer.

Mr. Connett has always manifested a preference for engineering work rather than the duties of operation, and so accepted a short time ago the position which he now holds. His plans for an electric railway conduit in Washington have been published in these columns and are familiar to our readers.

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Diescher, Samuel

From Proceedings of the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, Volume 31, 1915

SAMUEL DIESCHER.

Samuel Diescher
Source: The Street Railway Journal, October, 1891.

Born in Budapest, 1839.
Charter Member, 1880.
Director, 1881-1882.
Vice President, 1903-1904.
President, 1905.
Died Pittsburgh, 1915.

Samuel Diescher was born in Budapest, July 25th, 1839; died December 24th, 1915, in his 77th year. He was educated in the Carlsruhe Polytechnic College, Germany, and at the University at Zurich, Switzerland.

After a number of years of traveling over the European countries, and connection with various works in the capacity of designer, he came to this country in 1866 and settled in Cincinnati, and, after about a year's work as designer at the Niles Tool Works, he took charge of the construction of an Inclined Plant at Cincinnati.

While in Cincinnati, he was married to Miss Caroline Endres, and then came to Pittsburgh. He was engaged in the city engineer's office for some time, and was in charge of the construction of the Brownsville Road, involving retaining walls and other engineering difficulties in connection with supporting the hillside and making the road practical.

Shortly afterwards, he opened an office in the old Patterson Block at Sixth Street and Penn Avenue, and started a general engineering practice. Among his work at that time being a large number of coke plants, coal washing plants, inclined planes, special machinery, etc. Among the inclined planes designed and constructed by him, are the Penn Incline, Monongahela, Duquesne, Fort Pitt, Nunnery Hill (which was the first plane of any size to operate with curved track), the two Castle Shannon planes, the Mt. Oliver Passenger Plane, Troy Hill, Johnstown, two at Duluth, Minn., Wheeling, W. Va., Cincinnati, and, in fact, the majority of the heavy planes of this country, in addition to two in South America. On the Penn Incline (16th St., Pittsburgh), he introduced a new feature of "Safety First" by installing a very successful pneumatic bumper.

He was active in the earliest development of street railway construction, and in the years 1881 and 1882 carried out the Perrysville Avenue electric line, the old Squirrel Hill electric line, and the South 13th and Mt. Oliver line; all of which have long since disappeared. The Perrysville line was probably the first one to use an underground system.

He also carried out many water works, machine shops, rolling mills, etc., and was also designing engineer of the machinery for operating the Ferris Wheel at the Chicago Fair. He was active in tin plate plant design and construction since its infancy in this country, and, in the capacity of engineer, carried out quite a number of the well-known plants.

Up until some years ago, he was very active in Chamber of Commerce work; also as president of our Society, which office he held in 1905. His papers read before our various meetings are considered authoritative. He also was a Life Member of the Pittsburgh Exposition Society and a member of the Art Society.

In 1901 his sons became partners of the firm, and the name was changed to S. Diescher & Sons, and is being continued under that name by his sons, Samuel E. and August P. Diescher; a third son, Alfred J. Diescher, is Vice President and General Manager of the Quapaw Natural Gas Company, Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Mr. Diescher was not active in business since the year 1908, owing to his advanced age; however, he visited his office daily until August of 191S, at which time his visits ceased, and he remained at home thereafter until he passed away on December 24th, 1915,

In addition to the sons mentioned above, he leaves a widow, Mrs. Carrie E. Diescher, and three daughters, Mrs. A. M. Butler, of Boston, Mass., Mrs. L. J. Forster of this city, and Miss Irma Diescher, at home.

Mr. Diescher as an engineer was greatly admired. In all his undertakings he had initiative power, and his education and long experience, backed by his most dominant characteristics -- sterling qualities and common sense, -- gave strength to his views among other men of his profession.

He was of a most lovable and kind disposition, modest, unselfish, had a great sense of duty and was highly respected in the community for his honesty and integrity in all business matters.

"The world was better because he lived;
A noble spirit has gone to rest."

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Duncan, George S

Civil Engineer George Smith Duncan built the first cable car line outside of San Francisco, the Roslyn Tramway in Dunedin, New Zealand. To get around the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, he was forced to develop the pull curve, which allowed cars to hold the rope while passing through a curve on a grade. The pull curve allowed the cable car to spread to cities that did not have San Francisco's straight streets.

Duncan went on to design the cable tram lines in Melbourne. There he developed the slot brake, an important safety measure to deal with runaways and loose strands. He later advised Brisbane to use electric rather than cable traction for their tramways.

Duncan died in 1930.

Sources disagree as to his middle name. Some accounts have "George W Duncan", others have "George S Duncan". I went with the majority.

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Eppelsheimer, William E.

William Eppelsheimer was born in what is now Germany in 1842. He studied engineering in Germany.

William Eppelsheimer designed the first cable line in the world, the Clay Street Hill Railroad. He later designed a bottom grip for the Geary Street Park & Ocean Railway that is still used by today's surviving cable cars. He later designed the first cable railway in Europe, London's Highgate Hill Cable Tramway.

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Gillham, Robert

Robert Gillham was born in 1854 in New York. Trained as an engineer, Gillham moved to Kansas City in 1878. He proposed a cable railway to connect Union Depot with Quality Hill. The Kansas City Cable Railway's Ninth Street incline became a city landmark. The company lost his services when a shopman dropped a grip on Gillham's head while he stood in a pit inspecting the cable.

Gillham later built the Eighth Street Tunnel of the Inter-State Consolidated Rapid Transit Company. In 1888, he built the Peoples Cable Railway. In 1891, Gillham designed the Brooklyn Heights Railroad. Gillham also organized and served as chief engineer of many railways, street and mainline. He built the Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Gulf Railroad and served as its general manager. Robert Gillham died of pneumonia in 1899.

Robert Gillham published Cable Railways: Their History, and Use in America in 1889. The page includes a brief biographical sketch.

Robert Gillham died on 19-May-1899.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.

ROBERT GILLHAM.
Robert Gillham

Robert Gillham was born in New York City, September 25, 1854. He was educated at Hackensack, N. J., and in 1874 began the practice of civil engineering in Hackensack, where he met with much success.

Mr. Gillham was one of the earliest advocates of cable traction, has contributed much to its general introduction, and has acted as consulting engineer in the installation of a number of roads. A study of the system as introduced in San Francisco, in 1873, convinced him that it could be applied successfully in Kansas City, where the local conditions were peculiarly severe. The road installed here by Mr. Gillham and his associate, W. J. Smith, includes a steel viaduct and other interesting features.

Prior to the completion of this railway, in 1883, Mr. Gillham conceived the idea of an elevated railway extending through the western portion of Kansas City, Mo., and into Kansas City, Kan. The present elevated railway was the result. This embraces an elevated steel structure on a portion of the route, and a surface railway over the balance, in all about sixteen miles of railway. The railway was constructed under the direction of Mr. Gillham, who was vice-president and chief engineer, and who designed all the details associated with the work. It was the first steel elevated railway in the country and of original design, the use of cross ties having been avoided. Among other engineering works with which he has been identified are the Omaha cable railway, the Denver City cable railway system, the 16th Street viaduct and the Larimer Street viaduct in Denver, including the deck steel bridges over Platte River; the Montague Street cable railway, Brooklyn, N. Y., and the Cleveland (O.) City cable railway, in which Mr. Gillham was associated as engineer with Col. W. H. Paine. Shortly after the West End Street Railway Company of Boston was formed he was engaged as engineer to report on the feasibility of operating the cable system on several lines of that road, but the Richmond electric road being completed about that time, electric was selected instead of cable power. Mr. Gillham is also a recognized authority on the subject of compressed air, and he has written very extensively on this special subject. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, President of the Engineers' Club of Kansas City, a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and of a number of other societies. He was married in December, 1881 to Miss Minnie Marty, daughter of a prominent capitalist of Kansas City, and is now vice-president of the Kansas City Elevated Railway, and receiver of the North East Street Railway Company, of that city, besides have a large and general practice as a cable engineer.

From the 26-May-1899 Railway Age and Northwestern Railroader.
Robert Gillham From the 30-July-1897 Railway Age and Northwestern Railroader.

Robert Gillham, general manager of the Kansas City Pittsburg & Gulf, died at Kansas City, Mo., on May 19, after a brief attack of pneumonia. He was born in New York City, September 25, 1854, and after attending a private school at Lodl, N. J., completed his studies in engineering at the Classical and Mathematical Institute at Haekensack, N. J. He began practice as a civil engineer at Haekensack in 1874, and in 1870 he went to Kansas City and undertook the organization of a company to build a cable railway. His efforts resulted in the construction of the Kansas City Cable Railway system. including the steep incline extending to the summit of the bluff at the Union depot. He not only secured all the funds for the company, but designed and personally supervised the construction of the road. He was one of the principal promoters of the Kansas City Elevated Railway, being its vice-president and chief engineer, and designed and constructed the system. He also secured funds and built the Eighth street tunnel in Kansas City, which was completed in May, 1888. Among other engineering work executed by Mr. Gillham are the Omaha Cable Railway system, the Denver Cable Railway system, the Sixteenth street and Larimer street viaducts in Denver, the Montague Street Cable Railway at Brooklyn, N. Y., and the Cleveland City Cable Railway at Cleveland, O. Mr. Gillham was a recognized authority on the subject of compressed air, and was engaged to visit Europe to make extensive technical tests in the use of compressed air, the results being a valuable addition to the literature on this subject. In 1893 he accepted the position of vice-president and general manager of the Kansas City Elevated Railway and carried through a plan of consolidation with the system of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. In 1894 he was appointed receiver of the Northeast Street Railway of Kansas City, which he placed on a paying basis in a trifle over two years. In July, 1895, he accepted the position of chief engineer of the Kansas City Pittsburg & Gulf, which was at that time completed to a point only 230 miles south of Kansas City. He had full charge of the construction of the road to Port Arthur, Tex., 787 miles from Kansas City, and during the summer of 1H97 was appointed general manager of the system, including the Omaha Kansas City & Eastern, Omaha & St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Connecting, Kansas City Suburban Belt and Kansas City & Independence Air Line, retaining also the title of chief engineer. He constructed the Port Arthur ship canal and had full charge of all the terminal and harbor improvements at Port Arthur. A few weeks ago he was appointed one of the receivers of the Kansas City Pittsburg & Gulf, but subsequently withdrew in the interest of harmony between the opposing factions, and the court which appointed the present receivers designated that Mr. Gillham should continue as general manager. An excellent portrait of M. Gillham was published in The Railwav Age of July 30, 1897.

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Hallidie, Andrew S

Andrew S Hallidie
Andrew S Hallidie (Source: [volume 27:group 21:117a], Jesse Brown Cook Scrapbooks Documenting San Francisco History and Law Enforcement, ca. 1895-1936, BANC PIC 1996.003--fALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. ).

Andrew Hallidie promoted the first cable line in the world, the Clay Street Hill Railroad.

Andrew Smith was born in London, on 16-Mar-1836. His father, Andrew Smith, held several patents for the manufacture of metal wire ropes. Andrew Smith the younger later adopted the name Hallidie in honor of his uncle, Sir Andrew Hallidie, who had been a royal physician. Hallidie had hurt his health through overwork, so he and his father visited California in 1852. Andrew Smith returned to Britain in 1853, but his son remained in California. Andrew Hallidie mined, surveyed, blacksmithed, and built bridges.

Hallidie became the first person to make wire rope in California, first at American Bar and then, in 1857, in San Francisco. He built many suspension bridges in northern California. His cables were critical elements of suspension bridges, mine hauling systems, and an endless cable ropeway for industrial purposes which Hallidie patented in 1867. An important feature of the ropeway was a "grip wheel", a driving sheave with clips around its perimeter to keep the cable from slipping. Hallidie later used the grip wheel on the Clay Street Hill Railroad.

Hallidie married Martha Elizabeth Woods in November 1863. They did not have children. He became a citizen in 1864.

Various stories claim that Hallidie conceived of the idea of the cable railway while watching horses struggle to haul cars up Jackson Street, from Kearny to Stockton Street. The horses had to be whipped cruelly. They would sometimes slip and be dragged back down the hill.

This may be true, but Hallidie took over an existing proposal for a cable railway from Benjamin H Brooks, who had not been able to find financing for his plan.

In any event, Hallidie built a model cable railway and obtained financing from three partners. He received his first cable car-related patent on 17-Jan-1871. He had surveyed California Street for his line, but decided that it would be less expensive to build on Clay Street, and that Clay Street came closer to the peak of Nob Hill and so would offer a better demonstration of the system. Hallidie and his partners worked hard to sell stock in the line and did not have much success.

The line and the grip which bears Hallidie's name were designed by engineer William E Eppelsheimer.

The franchise demanded that a test run take place no later than 01-Aug-1873. The first test run actually took place early in the morning on 02-Aug-1873, but the city did not void the franchise. Most accounts say that the first gripman hired by Hallidie looked down the steep hill from Jones and refused to operate the car, so Hallidie took the grip himself and ran the car down the hill and up again without any problems.

The line started regular service on 01-Sep-1873 and was a financial success. Hallidie's patents, managed by a Cable Railway Trust, made him rich.

Hallidie used his time and money in many ways to help his fellow citizens.

Hallidie was a founding member of the Mechanic's Institute, which still maintains an excellent library in San Francisco. He was president of the Institute from 1868 to 1878. In 1878, he was a member of the original Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Free Library (Clarke, F. H. , "Libraries and Librarians of the Pacific Coast". Overland monthly and Out West magazine/ Volume 18, Issue 107, November, 1891).

Hallidie was an original Regent of the University of California. He served on the Board of Regents for the rest of his life.

Hallidie ran for the State Senate in September, 1873, at the same time the Clay Street Hill road was going into service. He lost. The San Francisco Chronicle, a Republican newspaper, attacked Hallidie violently in a series of articles:

Andrew S Hallidie died on 24-Apr-1900. He was buried in buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, but when that cemetery closed, his body was moved to the common crypt in Cypress Lawn, Colma.

Hallidie was a published author. His works included "The Wire Rope Street Railways of San Francisco, California", an 1881 article from the Scientific American Supplement. This copy was collected by Val Lupiz; with an introduction by Walter Rice.

Hallidie ad Ad for Hallidie's California Wire Works.
Hallidie plaque Plaque dedicated to Hallidie and the Clay Street Hill Railroad. It was moved to the lower terrace of Portsmouth Square when the Square was remodeled in 2001. April 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

There is a plaque dedicated to Hallidie and the CSH, on the lower terrace of Portsmouth Square, near Clay and Kearney. The text reads:
Andrew Smith Hallidie
Site of eastern terminus first street cars in world propelled by cable. Commenced operation August 1, 1873. Ceased February 15, 1942. Invented and installed by Andrew S. Halladie, born London, England March 16, 1836. Died San Francisco, April 24, 1900. Pioneer manufacturer of wire cables, Regent University of California, twice member Board of Freeholders for drafting proposed city charter, served on first Board of Trustees, 1878, of the San Francisco Public Library.
Registered State Landmark No. 500
Tablet placed by California State Park Commission
Base furnished by friends of Andrew S. Hallidie
Hallidie Building The Hallidie Building on Sutter. September 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

The Hallidie Building at 130 Sutter Street was named in his honor. It has a unique glass facade. A plaque in the lobby honors Hallidie:
HALLIDIE BUILDING

NAMED IN HONOR OF ANDREW SMITH HALLIDIE BORN IN LONDON, ENGLAND MARCH SIXTEEN 1836 DIED IN SAN FRANCISCO APRIL TWENTY-FOUR 1900- CREATOR OF OUR CABLE RAILWAY-TWICE MEMBER OF A BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS CHOSEN TO FRAME A CHARTER FOR THIS CITY-REGENT OF THE UNIVERSITY FROM THE FIRST MEETING OF THE BOARD JUNE NINE 1868 TO THE DAY OF HIS DEATH-DURING HIS LAST TWENTY-SIX YEARS DEVOTED CHAIRMAN OF ITS FINANCE COMMITTEE

BUILDER
CITIZEN
REGENT
A MAN OF INTEGRITY

Hallidie Plaza plaque Plaque dedicated to Hallidie at Hallidie Plaza. I had to take the picture at 7 am to be able to avoid the clutter in front of it. May 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Hallidie Plaza, near the Powell Street cable car terminal, was created during the great reconstruction of Market Street for BART in the 1960's & 70's. There is a plaque with an inscription and an Eppelsheimer bottom grip, near the top of the escalators. The plaque is usually hidden behind the tables of several vendors. The inscription, recently refurbished and rededicated, honors Hallidie:

ANDREW S. HALLIDIE
1836-1900

THIS PLAZA IS DEDICATED
TO ANDREW S. HALLIDIE,
DEVELOPER OF THE CABLE
STREET RAILWAY IN 1873.
HIS INGENUITY GAVE SAN
FRANCISCO THE CABLE CAR,
MEMORIALIZED IN SONG,
DECLARED A NATIONAL
LANDMARK AND FOREVER
LOVED BY THE PEOPLE.

From the 1890 Langley's San Francisco Directory at San Francisco Genealogy, page 587:

Hallidie A. S., president California Wire Works, suspension bridge builder and Patent Endless Ropeway, factory corner Bay and Mason, office 9 Fremont, r. 1026 Washington

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 311.

ANDREW S. HALLIDIE.
Robert Gillham

Andrew S. Hallidie is universally looked upon as the father of cable railways. To him more than to any other individual belongs the credit of devising the system of cable railways as it exists at present, and of carrying to a successful completion the execution of plans which others had pronounced impracticable.

Mr. Hallidie is of Scotch descent, and was born in 1834. His father was an engineer of reputation, the inventor of the wire rope, and during his life took out a large number of patents. When Mr. Hallidie arrived with his father in California he was but in his early teens. He soon developed a taste for engineering, and when but nineteen years of age he designed and completed an important bridge across the middle fork of the American River. He afterwards constructed many bridges along the coast, besides other engineering work. About this time he devised the cable transportation system for mining, known as the Hallidie ropeway.

In 1869 Mr. Hallidie turned his attention for the first time to street railways, and early in the following year determined that the application of the principle used in his mining transportation system was applicable to street transportation, but he failed to get financial aid until in 1872. In that year he associated with him Joseph Britton, Henry L. Davis and James Moffit in his work. Clay Street was the route decided upon, and owners of property on that street promised to pay about $40,000 when the road was completed. Messrs. Britton, Moffit, Davis and Hallidie contributed $60,000, and with $30,000 advanced on bonds the road was built. Of the $40,000 promised by property owners only about $28,000 was paid in. In the original road cast iron yokes were used about four feet apart, and the spaces between the top and part way up the sides were encased by sheet iron, the upper portion and surface being protected by timbers and forming a tube about twenty-two inches deep and fourteen inches wide. Timber protected the slot, which had an opening of seven-eighths of an inch, and was placed on one side by a central line about two inches. The gauge was three and a half feet. The grip was made so that the center of the gripping jaw, which took the cable in the center of the tube, and the slides holding the jaws, worked horizontally together by means of a wedge attached to a vertical rod worked up and down by means of a screw and rod in a hand wheel. The grip jaws were provided with guide pulleys which were grooved to fit the cable, and were placed at an angle so as to lead the cable fairly in beside the jaws. The line was three-fifths of a mile long, with an elevation of 328 ft. in that distance, crossed by five streets, many at right angles and with level crossings.

The construction of the line was let to Messrs. Martin & Ballard, who employed surprising energy in pushing the work, and the work was done immediately under the direction of Mr. Hallidie. Clay Street is but forty-nine feet wide, and a great deal of work was done in the removal of gas, water mains and water cisterns, which had to be built over and filled up; but all these difficulties were overcome, and the work was completed in about sixty days, or by the end of July, 1873. On the first day of August the franchise under which the work was carried on would have expired, but a single car was run over the track at four o'clock in the morning of that day, proving conclusively that the road would be successful, and securing the franchise. In the afternoon a public trip was made with grip and passenger car.

The difficulties encountered and overcome by Mr. Hallidie and his associates were many, and it was only owing to the indomitable perseverance of these men that a successful outcome was finally reached. The history of these early trials in San Francisco forms a most imporlant chapter in street railway development, but owing to the necessary limits of this article we have been able to give only a brief outline of them.

The history of cable railways since the opening of this first line is familiar to our readers. Mr. Hallidie has devoted himself since 1873 to the improvement of the cable railway system, and has taken out some 115 or more patents for cable improvements. As head of the California Wire Works which, has been built up by his brains and enterprise, he has also done much to advance cable railway practice by improvements introduced in the construction of wire ropes.

Mr. Hallidie has also taken a most prominent part in public enterprises on the Pacific slope, and is an active member of a large number of scientific societies and public institutions, and there have been few undertakings of a public nature with which he has not been identified.

From 1868 to 1878 he was president of the Mechanics' Institute, and now again presides over its destinies. He has been a regent of the State University since its start, is vice president of the American Protective Tariff League, a member of the American Geographical Society and of the American Society of Inventors, an active spirit in the local Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of the Lick Mechanical School.

He is a broad, public-spirited man, and it would be difficult to find one who is more justly esteemed and more generally respected in San Francisco than is he.

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Harris, James W

James W Harris served the California Street Cable Railroad from 1879, shortly after it began service, until at least 1940. He was in charge of the construction of the O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde line and the Jones Street Shuttle. He repaired the line after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. He eventually became president of the company.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.

J. W. HARRIS.
JW Harris

J. W. Harris, superintendent of the California Street Cable Railway Company, of San Francisco, Cal., is one of the oldest cable railway men in point of experience in the United States. He was born in Nova Scotia in 1854, but moved to San Francisco in 1875. In April, 1879, he was employed on the construction and extension of the California Street railroad, and has been in the employ of the company ever since. He has held the offices of car repairer, master mechanic and superintendent, to which he was appointed in 1885.

Under Mr. Harris's supervision a great deal of the constructio work of the California Cable Railway Company has been carried on, including the crosstown line, known as the Hyde Street railway, built in 1890 and 1891.

Cal Cable Grips President JW Harris of the California Street Cable Railroad standing in front of a car, perhaps at Presidio Avenue, with the refined and original versions of the Root single jaw side grip used by the line. Mr Harris started with the company as a manual laborer in 1879 (Source: "Cable Car Days in San Francisco", Edgar M. Kahn, 1944). Aug, 1997 Picture of the Month.

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Harvey, Charles T

Harvey William Ratigan's children's book, Young Mister Big: The Story of Charles Thompson Harvey the Young Traveling Salesman Who Built the World's Mightiest Canal, published in 1955.

Charles Thompson Harvey (no relation), born in 1829, was a self-trained civil engineer. In 1852, while Harvey was in Northern Michigan recovering from a bout of typhoid, he heard that Congress had passed an act granting 750,000 acres of federal land to any company which could build a canal around Saint Mary's Falls, which connect Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Harvey went to his employers, the Fairbanks Scale Company, and persuaded them to build the canal. Despite the fact that he was a salesman and accountant, he became the primary contractor and engineer. Learning on the job, he built the Sault Sainte Marie (Soo) Ship Canal, which opened in 1855. Harvey and his wife, Sarah Van Eps, settled in the Upper Michigan area and founded the town of Harvey. Their home, the Bayou House, still stands.

In 1867, Harvey, apparently a resident of Yonkers, New York by that time, designed and promoted a cable-driven passenger railway, the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway. Demonstrated on 07-Dec-1867 and opened on 01-Jul-1868, the West Side and Yonkers was the first elevated passenger rapid transit line. For various reasons, it was not a success.

Harvey's finances were wrecked, along with those of many other people, on Black Friday, 24-Sep-1869, when Jay Gould and Jim Fisk's attempt to corner the gold market shattered the American economy.

Charles T Harvey died in 1912.

From Compton's Online:
"Harvey, Charles T. (1829-1912), U.S. civil engineer; directed construction of the first Sault Sainte Marie canal, which was completed in 1855; built elevated railway line in New York City."

Soo Canal lock One of the locks on Charles T Harvey's Soo Canal.

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Hellman, Isais W

IW Hellman I W Hellman, banker and co-promoter of the Los Angeles Cable Railway (Source: [volume 27:group 6:33a], Jesse Brown Cook Scrapbooks Documenting San Francisco History and Law Enforcement, ca. 1895-1936, BANC PIC 1996.003--fALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).

Isais W Hellman, who promoted the Los Angeles Cable Railway, was born in what is now Germany in 1842. He came to Los Angeles in 1859 and became a dry goods merchant. Like many industrious merchants, Hellman drifted into banking. He was president of the Nevada Bank from 1890 to 1898, the Nevada National Bank from 1898 to 1905, and Wells Fargo/Nevada National Bank from 1905 until his death in 1920. The bank operated from his home on Jackson Street after the main branch was destroyed in the 18-Apr-1906 Fire and Earthquake. From 1893 to 1916, he was president of the Union Trust Company, which merged with Wells Fargo in 1924. His son and grandson were later presidents of Wells Fargo Bank.

This Date in Wells Fargo History
February 4, 1893.

Isaias W Hellman was modest in his personality, but not in his dreams. From 1859 to 1920, respected California banking historian Ira Cross declared, Hellman was "one of the outstanding financial forces in Southern California, and participated in laying the solid foundations for its subsequent prosperity." Three years after moving to San Francisco, Hellman incorporated the Union Trust Company, "the first bona fide trust company," in Cross's opinion, on the Pacific Coast. With California's stable, diversified, and complex economy, men and women of means needed sound financial advice for themselves and their heirs. Within a year, UTC had $1.5 million in trust accounts, when $15 million was good assets for a commercial bank. At the close of 1923, it merged with Wells Fargo Bank.

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Hilton, George W

The Cable Car in America

George W Hilton was a professor of economics who frequently wrote about transportation. I was going through the shelves at the Richmond Branch Library in San Francisco one day in the early 1970s when I noticed a new book, The Cable Car in America by George W Hilton. This book differed from other books I had read about railroads and streetcars. Hilton carefully explained not only the technology and the history, but the economics that first made cable traction desirable and then made them obsolete. Hilton was not interested in nostalgia.

Later I found other books he had written, including The Interurban in America and The Narrow Gauge in America. He followed the same pattern in dealing with those industries.

I can safely say that if it were not for The Cable in America, I would not have created this website.

Professor George W Hilton died on 04-August-2014. I'm sorry I never got to meet him.

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Holmes, Charles B

CB Holmes Charles B Holmes (Source: The Street Railway Journal December, 1891).

Charles B Holmes, president of the Chicago City Railway, became interested in cable propulsion, which had not spread to other US cities beyond San Francisco. Holmes visited San Francisco in 1880 and was impressed. He licensed the cable trust's patents and secured the services of Asa Hovey, who had designed the Sutter Street Railway. Holmes had faith that cable technology could work in a harsher climate than San Francisco's.

The Chicago City Railway became the most successful operating company in the industry.

Holmes gave an early interview while the company was making the transition from horse cars to cable cars on State Street:

In 1889, Holmes purchased a three quarter interest in the Los Angeles Cable Railway from Isais W Hellman and James F Crank. Holmes reorganized the company as the Pacific Railway. Augustine W Wright of Chicago designed the system using patents controlled by the industry trust.

The Pacific Railway was unsuccessful and Holmes was financially ruined.

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Holmes, Howard C

HC Holmes Howard C Holmes, engineer (Source: The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Supplement I, 1910).

Engineer Howard Carleton Holmes was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts on 10-June-1854. He came to San Francisco when he was 5.

Holmes designed the Ferries & Cliff House Railway's lines. According to an obituary in The San Francisco Bay Marine Piling Survey, Second Annual Progress Report (1922), he was also involved with building the Presidio & Ferries Railway, the extension of the California Street Cable Railroad to Market Street and the new O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde line, the Portland Cable Railway, the Spokane Cable Railway, and the Madison Street Cable Railway in Seattle. He also built electric lines in Stockton, Sacramento, and Oakland.

Ferry Building dedication This marker is on a column at the front of the Ferry Building.

He became Chief Engineer of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners and built the Ferry Building and many of the piers in San Francisco.

Howard C Holmes married Josephine Bauer of Philadelphia in 1883. He died on 30-October-1921.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.

HOWARD C. HOLMES.
Howard C Holmes

Howard C. Holmes was born on the Island of Nantucket in 1853, but has been a resident of San Francisco since 1860. After considerable practice In the building of steam railroads. Mr. Holmes was appointed engineer for the construction of the power house of the San Pablo Avenue cable railway, of Oakland, about ten years ago,land was later appointed chief engineer of the Ferries & Cliff House Railroad, the design of which was quite complicated. He was next engaged to supply the plan and specifications for the Portland Cable Railroad, drawing up all the details. The plans for this road were duplicated later for the Madison Street railway, of Seattle, Wash. At the time of the construction of the Portland road. Mr. Holmes had a contract in Spokane, Wash., to build a single track line nn Monroe Street, the motive power being water. The great difficulty in controlling the speed of the water wheel compelled him to introduce some very novel improvements and to change the plan of the railway from a single to a double track road. This railway is now operating very successfully.

He returned to San Francisco and was placed in charge of the track construction of the Oakland Consolidated Railway, the first electric railway in California, and later was identified with a number of other railway companies. When in charge of the Sacramento Street branch of the Powell Street system, he made a record in cable road construction, completing five miles of track and having them in operation seventy days from (he time that the ground was broken. There were included in this work nine crossings six of them being cable, five curves and one turntable.

Mr. Holmes is at present chief engineer for the Board of State Harbor Commissioners, of San Francisco, having held this office since September, 1892.

From the 1890 Langley's San Francisco Directory at San Francisco Genealogy, page 654:

Holmes Howard C., civil engineer, r. 3019 Sacramento

Hello Central, Give Me Howard Holmes

Here are the listings for Howard C Holmes from the February, 1903 Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company San Francisco phone directory:

Main 1868. Holmes, Howard C., Chief Engnr. S.F. Dry Dock Co., Ferry Bldg.
Baker 956. Same [Holmes, Howard C.], r. 2522 Green.

Dedicated volunteers at San Francisco Genealogy typed in every page of the book.

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Hovey, Asa

Engineer Asa Hovey worked with Henry Casebolt to design the Sutter Street Railway. He created the first side grip, which became the most common type of grip in the industry.

C B Holmes hired Hovey to design the first US line outside of San Francisco, the Chicago City Railway.

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Kincaid, Joseph

Engineer Joseph Kincaid was born in Dublin on 12-November-1834. He graduated from Trinity College in 1857. He became involved in tramway construction and was a pioneer in mechanical traction: steam, cable, then electric. He was involved in the first cable railway in Europe, London's Highgate Hill Cable Tramway. With Edward Pritchard he designed and built the cable line of the Birmingham Central Tramways Company. Kincaid died in London on 20-August-1907.

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Klussmann, Friedel

Klussmann Mrs Friedel Klussmann, the Cable Car Lady. (Source: San Francisco Public Library Digital Archive, San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

Friedel Klussmann, the Cable Car Lady, led the campaign that saved the San Francisco cable cars in the late 1940's.

In 1947, San Francisco Mayor Roger Lapham announced plans to scrap all remaining cable car lines in San Francisco, finishing the work that had started in 1942 when the Sacramento/Clay and Castro Street lines had been replaced by busses.

Mrs Friedel Klussmann, a prominent member of San Francisco society, read about the plan and began plotting a revolution at a joint meeting of the California Spring Blossom and Wildflowers Association and the San Francisco Federation of the Arts. She formed the Citizens Committee to Save the Cable Cars, which collected 50,000 signatures to put Proposition 10 on the November ballot. This grass-roots movement sought facts to counter the bureaucrats' arguments and organized the citizens of the city to fight for a piece of their heritage. The proposition to save the cable cars won 77% of the vote and saved the cable cars, but Mrs Klussmann's committee rose again whenever cable cars were threatened by cost-cutting, soulless bureaucrats.

Lucius Beebe said Mrs Klussmann was designated to wield terror and authority once possessed by the Vigilance Committee of 1851.

Mrs Klussmann died at the age of 90 in 1986 and the cable cars wore black.

Mrs Klussmann also founded San Francisco Beautiful in 1947.

On 04-Mar-1997, the 50th anniversary of the Committee's initial storming of City Hall, the Friends of the Cable Car Museum dedicated a mural to Mrs Klussmann at the cable car barn.

On 01-Dec-1997, the city dedicated the turntable at the outer terminal of the Powell/Hyde line to Mrs Klussmann.

Read "The Cable Car Lady and the Mayor", a good article by Walter Rice and Val Lupiz about Mrs Klussman's battles.

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Lane, Henry M

Henry M Lane, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, designed and built several cable car lines and formed a company to compete with the patent trust. A native of Cincinnati, he revised that city's Mount Adams & Eden Park Inclined Railway, a funicular, to carry horse cars. Later, he designed and built the company's cable car line on Gilbert Avenue.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313-314.

H. M. LANE.
HM Lane

H. M. Lane was born in Cincinnati, O., in 1854, and is a son of Col. P. P. Lane, who founded the Lane & Bodley Company, in 1851. He attended Cincinnati public schools, and after a special course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1873 and 1874, served five years as a draughtsman in charge of Lane & Bodley's draughting room and pattern shop. In 1875, he designed the engines and winding machinery for the Bellevue inclined plane, Cincinnati, O., and in 1879-80 designed and superintended the erection of the machinery for the Highland House inclined plane of the same place.

In the Summer of 1884, he constructed an experimental line on Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, of the Johnson double or ladder cable and sprocket wheel system of cable railways. He was then engaged by the Mt. Adams & Eden Park Inclined Railway Company to equip its Gilbert Avenue line, consisting of one and a half miles double track, which was built in 1885. A peculiar feature of this road was that the cable was used only on the incline and that for the rest of the distance horses were employed. The grip was not connected permanently to the car, but remained in the slot, the coupling and uncoupling being automatic. The change from cable to horse and vice versa has been made without bringing the car to a full stop.

In 1886, Mr. Lane extended both ends and completed this line, and in 1887 he designed and built the Vine Street cable system of the Cincinnati Street Railway Company. During the same year he examined and reported upon the St. Louis Cable & Western Railway and examined and reported upon the site and plans for Fourth and Selby Avenues (St. Paul) cable railway. In 1888, he was engaged as consulting engineer by the West End Street Railway Company, Boston, while the plans for the proposed cable line in that city were being prepared. In 1888, he examined the cable railways in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and prepared plans for and completed about twelve miles for the Denver Tramway Company. In the latter case a bonus of $204,000 was to be paid the company by the city, conditional upon the City Engineer of Denver or the State Engineer of Colorado, certifying to the completion of the road in good running order not later than December 31, 1888. The entire line, buildings, machinery and cars were completed and put in operation between July 4 and December 18, of the same year. In the latter month, to secure possession of Lawrence Street, he built four blocks of double cable railway track between seven o'clock in the evening and midnight of the same day, with 900 men whom he had secretly secured, although at seven o'clock there was no man in sight nor a pound of material on the street. In 1889, he designed and built the only cable railway in New England, that at Providence R. I., and an additional line for the Denver Tramway Company. On January 1, 1890, he succeeded his father as president of the Lane & Bodley Company, which office he now holds.

Mr. Lane was the first to employ cotton rope drives of any magnitude in cable work, and the first to employ them to any extent in this country east of the Rocky Mountains. His successful demonstration of their value for cable stations was made on the Denver Tramway, where the rope wheel was twenty-six feet eight inches diameter by ten feet two and a half inch face, and was turned for forty-six two inch cotton ropes.

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Lapham, Roger

Mayor Roger Lapham Mayor Roger Lapham, the man who tried to get rid of the cable cars. Detail of a larger photo, enhanced by Joe Thompson. (Source: San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, AAA-5771).

Roger Dearborn Lapham was born on in 1883 in New York City. He served as president of the American Hawaiian Steamship Company, as a member of the National Defense Mediation Board, and headed government missions to China and Greece.

Lapham was elected Mayor of San Francisco in 1943 on a platform that promised to clean up corruption in government and run the city on business principles. He did many good things, but is primarily remembered for one unfortunate act, trying to get rid of the cable cars.

In his State of the City address in January, 1947, Lapham proposed replacing them with buses. The reaction, led by Mrs Friedel Klussmann, was immediate and violent. Lapham's plan was defeated by the voters in November.

Lapham died on 16 April 1966.

The July 15, 1946 edition of Time featured San Francisco Mayor Roger Lapham on its cover. The article inside said "On July 16 the city will go to the polls and decide whether to recall Mayor Roger Dearborn Lapham. Some San Franciscans wanted to oust him because his administration had put through a 3 fare rise on the city's rattletrap trolley lines."
Read the complete article

The February 24, 1947 edition of Life described the early stages of the fight to save the cable cars from Mayor Roger Lapham. The article said "Civic-minded San Franciscans and sentimentalists all over the U.S. denounced the move, ridiculed Lapham's claim that the cars were losing $200,000 a year, wondered how buses, even if they could climb the hills, would lose any less."
Read the complete article

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McCann, Raymond M

Ray McCann was born in New York, but moved to San Francisco in 1969. He loved the city and served as one of its ambassadors when he went to work as a cable car gripman in 1979. During the Great Reconstruction in 1982-1984, he wrote Muni's first manual on operating cable cars.

On 12-Aug-1984, McCann and his 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.

Mrs Kathleen McCann reports that "...with stitches in his head and still bandaged he went to the barn the day after the accident and gripped one of the cars for a short period of time because he felt that if he didn't face it right away that fear would somehow mar the deep affection he had for working on the Cable Cars".

McCann's many charities included a yearly luncheon for senior citizens at Old Saint Mary's Church.

Ray McCann died on 29-May-1997 of melanoma; he was only 47.

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Miller, DJ

DJ Miller's duplicate cable system was also used by the Kansas City Cable Railway.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.

D. J. MILLER.
DJ Miller

D. J. Miller, inventor of the "Duplicate" or American system of cable railways, was born in Truxton, Cortland County, N. Y., Oct. 21, 1852. He attended the village school till about fourteen years of age, when he was put to service with the Remington Arms Company, at Ilion, N. Y. He was afterwards employed as a tool maker by Pratt & Whitney, of Hartford, Conn. In 1879 he removed to Chicago, and was for a time connected with the Union Brass Manufacturing Company.

Soon after the construction of the first cable road in Chicago was begun Mr. Miller entered the employ of the Chicago City Railway Company as draughtsman, and under the direction of Mr. Hovey made many of the drawings and plans for the South Side cable road. In 1883 he came to New York and built the Tenth Avenue cable road, putting in the duplicate system. He afterwards became chief engineer in charge of both the Tenth Avenue and 125th Street cable roads. In July, 1889, he returned to Chicago, and entered the employ of the North Chicago Street Railway Company. He died in Chicago Sept. 27, 1889.

Mr. Miller invented and patented many improvements in the construction of cable railways.

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Paine, William Henry

Colonel William Henry Paine, a veteran of the Union Army, was an important engineer in the cable railway industry. He designed the rapid transit cable railroad on the Brooklyn Bridge and created its unique roller grip.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.

COL. W. H. PAINE.
WH Paine

The late Col. W. H. Paine, assistant engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, was born at Chester, N. H., in 1828. He began the practice of civil engineering in Wisconsin, 1850, and two years later went overland to California, where he found opportunity for the exercise of his profession in mining, hydraulic and topographical engineering. It was largely at his suggestion that water was brought in sluices from different points to be utilized for hydraulic mining.

At the opening of the war, he look a prominent part in raising several regiments, and performed most valuable services for the Union cause as assistant topographical engineer of the army of Northeast Virginia. He was later appointed captain of engineers, and assigned to duty on the staff of the major general of the army. At the close of the war, he made Brooklyn, N. Y., his home, and in 1867 and in 1868 was appointed chief engineer of the Flushing & Northern Railroad, of Flushing, L. I., and built that line.

In 1869, he was appointed assistant engineer on the East River Bridge, and was engaged on that structure for eighteen years, assisting in all parts of the engineering work. He designed the system of cable traction in use on the Brooklyn Bridge, and was the inventor of the well known grip employed, bearing his name. He was also consulting engineer of the Tenth Avenue cable railway in New York, constructing engineer of the 125th Street cable railway, and consulting engineer of cable railways in Denver, Omaha, Kansas City and Cleveland, and designed and constructed the cable railway in the latter city. He died December 31, 1890.

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Pritchard, Edward

Engineer Edward Pritchard was born in Wrexham, Wales in September, 1838. He specialized in waterworks, sewerage, and tramways. With Joseph Kincaid, he designed and built the cable line of the Birmingham Central Tramways Company. Pritchard died on 11-May-1900.

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Rice, Walter

Walter Ellery Rice, whom I am proud to have called a friend, passed away on 12-December-2007.

He was what used to be called a man of parts. Walter, a native of San Francisco, was a PhD, Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a historian who has written on many topics related to transit and railways, a die-hard fan of the San Francisco Giants, and a keeper of goats. This list covers only a small part of his accomplishments. He was former chairman of the Friends of the Cable Car Museum, and was currently a member of the board of the Western Railway Museum.

I first got to know Walter when he was setting up the website of the Friends and he wrote to me with some questions.

I remember him as a gentleman, a man of great vitality, a good guy who took an interest in people of all sorts, a family man, and a person who lived to share his great knowledge with others. Walter and his wife Laurie were kind hosts to the many visitors who turned up at their home, including me and my family.

I was honored that he made so many contributions to this website. I highly recommend his interview with Mrs Barbara Kahn Gardner, the daughter of Samuel Kahn, President of San Francisco's Market Street Railway, the chronology, his articles about the Manx Electric Railway, the Isle of Man Railway, and the Great Orme Tramway, and the many pieces of information and images that Walter allowed me to use.

I also recommend his many books and magazine articles. Here are a few books that come to mind:

  • Of Cables and Grips: The Cable Cars of San Francisco by Walter Rice and Robert Callwell. Read the text of the second edition
  • San Francisco's Powell Street Cable Cars by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
  • San Francisco's Interurban to San Mateo by Walter Vielbaum, Robert Townley, Walter Rice, and Emiliano Echeverria
  • The Key System: San Francisco and the Eastshore Empire (Images of Rail) by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
  • Rails of California's Central Coast (Coming Soon) by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria

I firmly believe that Walter had a long list of questions ready for when he would meet Andrew Hallidie, Henry Root, James W Harris, and Frank J Sprague. Charles Smallwood probably introduced them. Many people will miss Walter. We are lucky to have known him.

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Robinson, Sir James Clifton

JCR Sir James Clifton Robinson, from the New York Tribune, 07-November-1910, page 1.

James Clifton Robinson was born in Birkenhead in 1848. In the 1860s, he went to work for George Francis Train, an American who built the first tramways in Britain. Robinson went on to a long and varied career as an engineer and manager in the transit industry.

Robinson served as General Manager of the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway in Los Angeles. He was allegedly fired after a huge rainstorm on 24-December-1889 obstructed the conduits with debris. Robinson bet someone a cigar that he would have cars running the next afternoon. He ordered the cables started the next day and caused severe damage to the cables and machinery, which were full of gravel and sand.

He returned to Britain and became known as the "Tramway King."

from the New York Tribune, 07-November-1910, page 1:
"He designed and constructed the London United Electric tramway system and also constructed the first tramway system in Bristol in 1895. He was the managing director and engineer of the Imperial Tramways Company, and constructed and reorganized the Dublin Souther District electric tramways in 1896 and the Middlesborough, Stock and Thornaby electric tramway in 1898.

"For his services in the developing of the railroad systems in London King Edward knighted him in 1905. Sir Clifton was managing director and engineer of the London United Electric Tramways, Imperial Tramways, director and engineer of the Bristol Electric Tramways, and director of the Metropolitan District Underground Electric Railways, of London and the Corris Railways."

Sir James was riding with his wife on a Lexington Avenue electric car in New York on 06-November-1910 when he collapsed with what may have been a stroke. The conductor and two passengers carried him to a drug store, where he died. I suppose an old tramway hand would see something appropriate about taking ill on a transit vehicle.

Sir James was a pioneering automobilist and a prolific writer. His writings included "A Year's Progress of Cable Motive Power", a paper about cable traction delivered at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the American Street-Railway Association, held at the Monongahela House, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 21 and 22, 1891.

He and his wife were survived by a son.

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Root, Henry

Root Henry Root in 1920.

Henry Root, an influential cable railway engineer, was born in Vermont in 1845. He worked as surveyor and engineer on Central Pacific Railroad through the Sierra and across Nevada.

In 1877, Leland Stanford, one of the owners of the Central Pacific, hired Root to design and build the California Street Cable Railroad. Stanford initially refused to pay the Traction Railway Company $40,000.00 for a license. After the Trust sued for infringement, Stanford was forced to pay $30,000.00. Root's innovations on the California Street line, especially a reinforced concrete conduit, were the basis of important patents.

When Stanford promoted the Market Street Cable Railway in 1883, he engaged Root to design and build it. For this line, Root developed the combination car, with an open and closed section on one car. Root later designed the double ended combination car still used on California Street.

Both lines used a single jaw side grip that was widely imitated, legally and otherwise, in the cable railway industry.

Root wrote a privately published autobiography: Henry Root, Personal History and Reminiscences with Personal Opinions on Contemporary Events 1845-1921. Only 100 copies were printed. I have posted some excerpts.

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Saxton, Edmund

E Saxton An ad for cable and electric railway contractor Edmund Saxton. From the October, 1895 Street Railway Journal.

Contractor Edmund Saxton of Kansas City built the tracks and conduits for the cable lines of several companies.
Grand Avenue and 15th Street Line -- Grand Avenue Railway (Kansas City)
Grand Avenue and Westport Line -- Grand Avenue Railway (Kansas City)
Holmes Street Line -- Holmes Street Railway (Grand Avenue Railway) (Kansas City)
The Loop Line -- Metropolitan Street Railway (Kansas City)
Seventh Street Line -- Washington and Georgetown Railroad (Washington, DC)
Eleventh and Thirteenth Street Line -- Tacoma Railway & Motor Company (Tacoma)
Navy Yard and Georgetown Line -- Washington and Georgetown Railroad (Washington, DC)
Fourteenth Street Line -- Washington and Georgetown Railroad (Washington, DC)
Blue Line -- Baltimore City Passenger Railway (Baltimore)
N.Y. Ave. and H Street Line -- Columbia Railway (Washington, DC)

Saxton went on to do the same for most of the early conduit electric lines in Washington, DC.

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Smallwood, Charles A

Charles A Smallwood was a good man who was the pre-eminent historian of San Francisco's Market Street Railway.


From the San Francisco Chronicle, 16-Apr-1986

Charles A Smallwood

Charles A Smallwood, a retired cable car repair foreman, author of a book on San Francisco streetcar history and collector of nickelodeons, was found dead Wednesday in his Richmond District home.

Mr Smallwood, 73, was one of the last surviving employees of the Market Street Railway, which was sold to the Municipal Railway in 1944. He was one of the country's best-known electric railway historians and his photos have appeared in dozens of books.

Near the end of World War II, while serving as a sergeant in an Army transportation battalion that operated the trans-Iranian railway, Mr Smallwood was sent on a secret mission to Moscow to hand over US-owned railway equipment to the Soviet government.

A native of San Francisco, Mr Smallwood went to work for the Market Street Railway as a night mechanic in 1938 and worked in most of the Muni's streetcar barns before retiring in 1974 as foreman of the cable car repair crew.

Mr Smallwood's 475-page book "The White Front Cars of San Francisco," published in 1971, has become a collector's item.

His interest in old machinery led to his acquisition of more than 50 nickelodeons. Many of the nickelodeons in the old Nevada mining town of Virginia City belong to Mr Smallwood.

Mr Smallwood is survived by a sister, Marie, who also worked for the Municipal Railway until her retirement.

Funeral services are pending at WC Laswell & Co, Daly City.


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Stut, JCH

JCH Stut also designed a new grip for the extension of the Presidio and Ferries Railway.

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.

J. C. H. STUT.
JCH Stut

J. C. H. Stut, of San Francisco, was one of the mechanics in 1873 for the construction of the famous Clay Street line of San Francisco, designed by Mr. Hallidie. At this time Mr. Stut was connected with Mr. Phelps, of San Francisco, who had the contract for furnishing the sheet iron conduit for that railway. In 1879 De was engaged in the Union Iron Works, of San Francisco, as draughtsman, and assisted in the design and construction of all the driving machinery and power plant for the Geary Street railway, and later, in 1883, the engines for the Market Street system, as well as the power plant for the McAllister Street and Hayes Street lines. In 18S3 he designed the power plant for the reconstruction of the Sutter Street line at the Union Iron Works.

From 1887 to 1889 Mr. Stut was engaged in the design of the entire Omnibus Line and power plant of the system, including the Howard Street, the Oak Street aud the Post Street lines. This system comprised four sets of cross compound, condensing engines in two powerhouses. Mr. Stut was the first to apply the system of cooling condensing water on the roof of power houses, also to install a differential cut-off on cross compound, condensing engines for self adjustment and regulation in cable practice. This has been found very successful.

In 1889 and 1890 Mr. Stut designed the new power plant and driving machinery for the California Street system, and employed here triple expansion engines for the first time in the history of cable roads. The vertical type of automatic tension run and several other improvements were employed here for the first time.

Mr. Stut has also been engaged on other well known plants, not only in the cable railway line, but in other engineering work.

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Thompson, Jesse Murdock

Jesse Murdock (JM) Thompson was an engineer who worked for the patent trust's Pacific Cable Construction Company.

In 1885, he designed and built the Second Street Cable Railway in Los Angeles. The line's single track technology was not a success.

Thompson did most of his work in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1888, he designed and built Seattle's first cable car line, the Seattle City Railway. Thompson designed and promoted the Front Street Cable Railway in 1889. In 1891, he designed the Madison Street Cable Railway. He designed the West Seattle Cable Railway in 1890. The only Seattle cable railway line he was not involved with was the Union Trunk Line.

In 1887, he designed the Portland Cable Railway in Portland, Oregon. Financial problems delayed completion until 1890. This line had a great deal of trouble with Portland's harsh climate.

In 1888, Thompson designed and built the north line of the Spokane Cable Railway in Spokane, Washington. This was another single track line.

Thank you to Dotty Decoster and Suzanne Hansen for cluing me in to JM's first and last names. There are an awful lot of Thompsons running around.

From the 1890 Langley's San Francisco Directory at San Francisco Genealogy, page 1284:

Thompson, J. M., president Pac. Cable Construction Co., 258 Market, r. Palace Hotel

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.

J. M. THOMPSON.
JM Thompson

J. M. Thompson was born in Augusta, Me., in 1851. In 1872 he went from New York City to St. Paul, Minn., and entered the service of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Here he rose rapidly, and at the time of his resigning was the paymaster of the company. In 1876 he moved to San Francisco, where he became acquainted with Mr. Hallidie, and secured the control of the Hallidie elevated wire system for certain countries. Among these were the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico, where he installed several wire transportation systems.

His first cable road was built in Los Angeles, Cal. This enterprise proved so successful that he organized and built the Temple Street cable road in the same city. He finally sold his interests in both roads, and went to Denver, Colo., where, with others, he secured valuable franchises which were sold to the Denver Tramway Company. His next enterprises were the Yesler Avenue and Front Street cable railways, of Seattle, Wash. After selling his interests in both these roads, be built another road at West Seattle, then went to Portland, Ore., where he was awarded the contract for building the cable railway in that city.

He is now located in Chicago, and is connected with several large enterprises, both cable and electric.

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Whitton, Andrew D

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.

A. D. WHITTON.

A. D. Whitton, who at the time of his death in February, 1892, was chief engineer of the Philadelphia Traction Company, was born in Scotland, in 1856. He moved to this country about 1882, and after remaining in Baltimore for about two years, removed to Philadelphia and entered the service of the Philadelphia Traction Company.

Mr. Whitton built the Market Street cable line of that city and superintended the construction of nearly all the cable lines which have been built by the Philadelphia syndicate, including those in Pittsburgh, the North and West Chicago lines, and the Baltimore line. Mr. Whitton also made some early plans for the Broadway, New York, cable line, but owing to failing health he was not able to superintend the construction, and the work was committed to other engineers,who changed the plan and adopted a different type of construction.

Mr. Whitton was accustomed to work along independent lines, and was most prolific in invention, having been the patentee of a number of appliances relating to cable traction.

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Wise, Clift

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.

CLIFT WISE.
Clift Wise

Clift Wise is a native of St. Louis, having been born in that city June 10 1861. He received his preliminary education in the St. Louis schools, and attended the polytechnic school of the Washington University. His first connection with street railways was in January, 1883, when he was appointed division engineer of the Kansas City Cable Railway. Eighteen months later he was appointed chief engineer, and constructed three of the cable lines of that company, viz., Independence, East 9th Street line and Troost Avenue line. The cable power station for these lines is said to have been at that time the largest in the world used for cable purposes.

Mr. Wise was engineer and constructing engineer of the cable lines in St. Paul. Minn., and of the electric railways of that city and Minneapolis. He has been active in recent electric construction, one of the latest roads installed by him being the electric railway system, of Atchison, Kan. He also at one time had charge of a cable railway in Philadelphia. Mr. Wise's headquarters are in Chicago. where he is a member of the engineering and constructing firm of Clift Wise and Company.

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Wood, Fred W

From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314-315.

FRED W. WOOD.
Fed W Wood

Fred W. Wood, president of the Temple Street Cable Railway Company, of Los Angeles, Cal., was born in Prairie du Chien, Wis., April 28, 1853. From 1869 to 1874 he was involved in the engineering department of Kansas City, Mo., and of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway in Wisconsin and Michigan. During this time he acquired an all-round and valuable experience in field and construction work. He moved to Los Angeles, Cal., in 1874 and became manager of the Beaudry water works system of that city, continuing in that position until 1881.

From 1882 to 1886 he acted as secretary and managerof the San Gabriel Wine Company, and in that position he had charge of the construction of the buildings and machinery for the largest wine making establishment in the world.

From 1886 to the present time he has been connected with the Temple Street Railway Company of Los Angeles, Cal., in the various capacities of secretary and manager. During this time it has been necessary to rebuild a large portion of the road and to entirely replace the machinery. This has all been done according to special designs of Mr. Wood, which attests his inventive faculty and sound engineering judgment. Finding, as a street railway manager, a continually increasing necessity lor a knowledge of law, he put his small margin of time for a year or two to such good use that, in 1892, he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the Slate of California.

Mr. Wood is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and is first vice-president of the Engineers' & Architects' Association of Southern California.

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Wright, Augustine W

AW Wright
An ad for AW Wright "Consulting Engineer for Horse Railroads". He also worked on cable railroads. Note that he is to be contacted care of the North Chicago City Railway, where he was superintendant of track and construction. From the April, 1885 Anerican Railroad Journal.

Augustine W Wright served as superintendant of track and construction for the North Chicago Street Railroad. In 1889, Wright designed the Los Angeles Cable Railway/Pacific Cable Railway.

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Yerkes, Charles T

Yerkes Charles T Yerkes. (Source: YERKES OBSERVATORY PHOTOGRAPH. Used with permission)

Charles Tyson Yerkes fit the common Nineteenth Century view of capitalist as thief. He did, in fact, serve time in the penitentiary in Pennsylvania for stealing funds from the city of Philadelphia.

Yerkes was born in 1837 in Philadephia. He worked his way up from clerk to banker. In an 1871 financial panic, his firm went bankrupt and his misappropriation of city funds was revealed. He was sentenced to 33 months in the penitentiary but was pardoned after serving seven. He moved to Chicago in 1881.

In 1886, Yerkes purchased the North Chicago Street Railroad. When he converted the company's main lines to cable traction in 1888, they worked badly. Much of the hostility the public felt towards the company was magnified by its hostility towards Yerkes and his colorful methods. His techniques for influencing legislators included bribery and badger games. He later acquired the West Chicago Street Railroad.

In his 1892, in an effort to buy respectability, he donated funds for the Yerkes Observatory to the University of Chicago. Their web page has much interesting biographical information about Yerkes.

Yerkes built large parts of the Chicago Elevated. He left for London about 1900 and built some underground lines there.

Yerkes died in New York on 29-Dec-1905.

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