|A Sutro Railroad car approaching the station above Sutro Baths. The third Cliff House is visible in the background (Source: [group 8:78], Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection, ca. 1850-ca. 1968, BANC PIC 1905.17500--ALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.).|
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I visited the only surviving relic of the California and Nevada Railroad, a narrow gauge line that ran in a horseshoe from Emeryville to Orinda. The de Laveaga family, after whom the station was named, preserved it for many years on their property. They donated it to the city of Orinda, which placed it inconspicously on the corner of Bates and Davis, roughly across the freeway from the BART station. The tiny building has an unusual roof. There is a sign describing the railroad's brief history.
I visited the 1891 Danville Depot, from the abandoned San Ramon Valley Branch of the Southern Pacific. Located at Railroad Avenue & East Prospect Avenue in Danville, not its original location, it is a nice-looking two-story station with a large parking lot, where a farmers' market was running on Saturday morning. The depot is the home of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley.
I visited the Centerville Station in Fremont, California. The 1910 station building, across the tracks from its original location, serves ACE commuter trains and Amtrack's Capital Corridor. The one-story station was beautifully restored in the 1990's. I ate my lunch on a bench and watched a Capitol Corridor train stop and pick up some riders. Visit the Centerville Station website.
I visited Southern Pacific's two-story station building, which has been moved away from its original site. The 1901 station was built in the attractive "colonnade" style. It houses the Niles Depot Historical Foundation. There is some talk that the depot might be moved back by the tracks, to be used by the Pacific Locomotive Association's Niles Canyon Railway. The freight depot still stands near the tracks. It needs work. Niles was the home, from 1912 to 1916, of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, which featured pioneering cowboy star Broncho Billy Anderson. Charlie Chaplin worked there for one year. He made one of his most famous two-reelers, "The Tramp", in Niles. A passenger car in the town parking lot houses the Niles Merchants' Association. Next to it is a plaque, placed by E Clampus Vitus, marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
We rode the F line extension from Fourth and Market to Fisherman's Wharf. The cars were full going out and coming back.
We visited the new home of the San Mateo County Historical Association in the old San Mateo County Court House. One exhibit represented railroad history in the county.
I took my first trip on the F line's extension along lower Market and the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. People who rode on the first weekend had reported many problems with switches, signals, scheduling, motorists, and pedestrians. The F line seemed to be running better after a week.
I made a round trip from Third and Market out to the Wharf and back in under 60 minutes.
I rode car 1055 the whole way. It was very crowded when I got on, but after I fought through the standees up front, I found some seats in the back. People stood all the way to Pier 39, but there were always a few open seats in the rear.
The trip down Market was slow. We went through the switches at First, Fremont, and Steuart very gingerly. The construction mess in front of the Ferry Building was unabated. It looks as if the permanent stops will have huge sheet metal awnings. The outbound awning looks about done.
We made good time along the Embarcadero. It was a strange feeling riding a streetcar along there. When we got to the Wharf, we went slowly. The motorwoman (?) had to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting someone turning into the lot by Pier 43. The car made some funny noises before we started again.
We made better time coming back up Market. No one stood on the way back.
There weren't any serious delays. I didn't see any motorists behaving badly except for the one turning into the parking lot. There was some bunching. Just before we reached Pier 39 on the way out, three inbound cars passed in short order. Another car was right behind us at the end of the line. On the return trip, I saw the Milan car closely followed by a PCC.
I took a walk around the foot of Mission and Market and saw the tracks in place for the F line loop. The tracks from Market on Spear extend all the way to Mission. They both have switches to and from a set of double tracks that go on a cobblestoned private right of way through the middle of the block, along the west end of the bus turnaround. There is a boarding platform along the east track. Both tracks have curves into the tracks along the Embarcadero. The east track leads into the south track on the Embarcadero. A switch leads to a single track on Mission, which curves into the outbound track on Steuart. It will be interesting to see when it is all in service.
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We went to the San Francisco Zoo, where I got to ride behind Little Puffer, the 1904 4-4-0, for the first time since it was removed in 1978. The red and black cars look as I remember them except for the last car, which is handicapped accessible. The Golden Gate Railway Museum did a good restoration job. The new route goes from the depot by the Terrace Cafe, near the South American exhibit, through the shed that serves as a car house, near the aviary, along the road by the seals and the bears, across a trestle by the lake where the bald eagles live, and back behind the Terrace Cafe. We went around twice for two dollars. There is a switch past the car house, leading to the engine house, which is attached to the side of the car house. We saw the engine pull out of the engine house a little after 11:00. The engineer had to go around between 11:00 and 11:15 and grease the curves, which are a little tight. The first run was about 11:30.
I rode the train many times over the old route, which was where Gorilla World is now.
I've been seeing more and more buses with Muni's latest paint job. The latest version has a thin orange stripe just below the roof; the rest is plain white. I suppose this will look better underneath the ad wrappers. Someday, I fear the buses will be entirely white. It makes me nostalgic for the Landor colors.
We took a trip to Sacramento to visit the California State Railroad Museum. Driving into town, we got to see the Tower Bridge go up. I had never seen it open from close up.
|The Tower Bridge in Sacramento. It is open with a river boat passing underneath. Probably 1930's. The boat may be the Delta King or Delta Queen.|
The Railroad Museum had changed some since my last visit. There was a platform that let people climb up to the cab of the cab front locomotive. Two of Henry Sorenson's logging locomotives, the Falk and a Japanese engine, were inside, left over from the Rail Fair. I still don't like the new gift shop as well as Milepost One.
We visited Casa de Fruta on the Pacheco Pass. They have a train that gives a good 15 minute ride. I especially enjoyed the stretch along the creek. An old locomotive and set of cars is for sale. The station is called the "Casa de Choo Choo".
The United States Postal Service's Celebrate the Century Express was in San Francisco at the Fourth and Townsend Caltrain station. It included Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg's private car Virginia City and a railway post office car. The RPO had displays explaining how the postal clerks did their work. The weather was nice the day I went and the guards were enjoying it.
We visited Traintown in Sonoma, California and had a good time. Traintown claims to be "The Most Well Developed Scale Railroad In The Americas!". They have a wonderful layout and well-maintained rolling stock. The train we rode was pulled by number 1200, a diesel, but their 4-4-0 steam engine was spotted on the turntable in front of the roundhouse.
I spotted new Muni trolley bus 5401 outbound on Mission this morning about 07:15. The bright new electric sign said "No Passengers". It was a non-articulated bus. My first thought was that the electrical equipment on the roof looked a lot heavier than that on the Fliers these buses will replace. My second thought was that the bus looked a lot cleaner than the Fliers. We'll see how long that lasts.
We had dinner at the restaurant in the former Ocean Shore Railroad's Vallemar Station. The Pacifica Ocean Shore Railroad Association had two dioramas on display in the lobby. One showed the station with a locomotive and the other showed a motor car on a trestle. The Association is trying to raise money to build and display a working "N" gauge model of the Ocean Shore's right of way through what is now the city of Pacifica.
Questions? Contact Tom Hutchinson at Frames for the Memories, 650-355-1866 or Kathleen Manning at Prints - Old and Rare, 650-355-6325.
Send donations to:
Pacifica Ocean Shore Railroad Association
580M Crespi Drive
Pacifica, CA 94044
Many things have happened recently. Mayor Brown wisely shot down a plan to cut service on the F Market streetcar line, Muni's most popular route. The service had been increased during the summer when Muni Metro had its worst problems. The mayor raised and then withdrew a proposal to raise fares. No one was amused. Mayor Brown, opponent Clint Reilly, and Rescue Muni all have competing plans to fix Muni. All three plans involve reducing political influence on Muni.
San Francisco Municipal Railway officials are moving from the Presidio car barn and other locations to offices in the Veterans Building across Van Ness from City Hall. This will give Muni a higher profile with the city's government, but I worry that it is a step towards tearing down the car barn.
The city of Orinda is trying to preserve the only surviving relic of the California and Nevada Railroad, a narrow gauge line that ran in a horseshoe from Emeryville to Orinda. The de Laveaga family wants to remove the station, and has offerred it to the city.
I saw four of the Peter Witts from Milano parked in the Upper Geneva Yard. Muni acquired eleven of them last week.
I rode the bus which took Sixth St into San Francisco and noticed 12 Boeing Vetrols parked on the tracks beyond the Caltrain station.
I took a walk down to the foot of Mission, where I had heard they were starting to build a loop for the F line. I saw lots of tracks stacked behind a fence along Steuart Street.
I had my first ride on one of SamTrans' new Gillig Phantoms, Number 616. It still had that new bus smell. It looked a lot like the 900's, except that many of the railings and bell pulls were yellow. It made an unusual whining noise on the hill down into Pacifica. Some kind of a new braking system?
The ACE commuter express entered service between the Tri Valley and Silicon Valley areas. It is intended to relieve congestion all along its route, especially across the Altamont Pass.
We visited The Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction. This was our first visit in several years. The new visitor center should be done by the end of this year. We rode on Muni Magic Carpet 1003 and Petaluma & Santa Rosa 63. This was our first ride on the newly rewired eight miles of former Sacramento Northern trackage. It was a pleasant day.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway dealt with some of its problems by taking 20 of its least dependable cars out of service. I have noticed more Boeing Vetrols parked in the Upper Geneva Yard.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway unveiled its new train control system, several years late and way over budget. Muni also converted its busiest line, the N Judah, to POP (proof of payment). There were worse delays than usual during the week, and then, on Friday, more than half the fleet of streetcars was broken down. People are unhappy.
The San Francisco Zoo has revived Little Puffer, a steam train that ran in the zoo from 1925 to 1978. The locomotive was built by Cable Brothers' Miniature Railroad Co in New York, New York in 1904. It was displayed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis that year. Later the train ran in Santa Cruz, CA.
The zoo closed the train down in 1978 to build a new home for its gorillas. Volunteers restored the locomotive, laid out a new line, and built a storage building.
I look forward to riding the train again.
An article in the San Francisco Examiner states that Muni wants to tear down the remaining portion of the Geneva Car Barn. The car barn was built by San Francisco's first electric line, the San Francisco and San Mateo Ry in 1901. Muni tore down the wooden car shed in the 1980's but kept the brick administration building. Muni has failed to maintain the building for years and now insists it can't afford to restore it and needs to tear it down to make room for the historic car fleet.
We visited the Nevada State Railroad museum in Carson City. I was shocked and delighted to see that Virginia and Truckee Motor Car Number 22 was in the shop being restored. The volunteer said that only five McKeens exist in the world. The VT car was built in 1910. It is 70 feet long. It was used as a diner in two different locations and then as part of a plumbing shop. The only part visible was the "wind splitter" front end, which lacked most of its side panels. I couldn't make out any of the porthole windows. Even when restored, the car will be too long to operate around the museum.
We took a ride on the Washoe Zephyr motorcar.
|A Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway train, leaving the Summit Tavern before 1923.|
Copyright 1996-2009 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-July-2009