From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.
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.
From the Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808-1908, Volume 3 by Carrie Westlake Whitney, pages 130-131.
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.
M. K. 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
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,
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
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
From the 26-April-1895 San Francisco Call, page 8.
Joseph Britton has been known to almost all prominent San
Franciscans. His life for the last forty-five years has been spent in
this city. He is English by birth and is 70 years of age. He arrived in
New York when 10 years of age and came to San Francisco in 1849. Like
all the pioneers he first went to the mines, but as he did not realize
his expectations he turned to his trade, that of a lithographer.
In 1852 he started the lithographing house of Britten & Rey, which
has existed until the present day. Mr. Britton was one of the four men
who revolutionized the streetcar business of the world. With Hallidie,
Davis and Moffatt(Moffitt - JT) he was connected with the building of the Clay-street
cable road, the first of its kind in the world.
Joseph Britton was an earnest sympathizer of the Vigilance Committee,
though not a member of that body. He was a prominent member of the
political organ ization known as the People's party, which was the
outcome of the Vigilance Committee. As a candidate of that party he was
elected Supervisor, and at the time of the Civil War introduced the
resolution pledging the city of San Francisco to the Union and did all
in his power to hold it as a loyal state.
Mr. Britton owns considerable property in this City and some tracts
in neighboring counties and across the bay. He owns stock in the large
printing establishment of Palmer & Key. Mr. Britton has been a prominent
man in recent political matters and has gained considerable fame as a
member of the Non-Partisan party in local politics. According to the
assessment roll Mr. Britton pays the following taxes:
A lot on the southwest corner of Green and Taylor streets, a
fiftv-vara lot, assessed at $1700, on which he pays $26 62 taxes; a lot
in Jerome alley, near Pacific street, assessed value $540, taxes $8 46;
a lot on Sansome street, near Sacramento, assessed as follows: Real
estate $9650, improvements $11,500, total $21,150, taxes $331 40. The
firm of Britton and Rey is assessed as follows: A lot on the southwest
corner of Commercial and Leidesdorff streets, value of lot $11,100, of
improvements $10,750, total $21,850, taxes $342 38; a lot on the
southeast corner of Union and Taylor streets, assessed as follows: Real
estate $6220, improvements $1350, total $7570. taxes $118 62;
twenty-eight lots in the O'Neil & Haley Tract, assessed value $360,
taxes $5 62.
From the 19-July-1901 San Francisco Call, page 14.
FATHER OF THE CHARTER IS CLAIMED BY DEATH.
Full of Years and Honor Joseph Britton Passes to His Eternal Rest, His Last Thoughts, Being of the Welfare of the City for Which He Toiled So Unselfishly
JOSEPH BRITTON, distinguished as a public-spirited citizen, died last evening at the ripe age of 76 years at his residence, 829 Union street.
Death was due to a general breaking down of the system, but to the last Mr. Britton maintained his mental vigor to a remarkable degree. Though he was confined to his bed for some
weeks he took the liveliest interest in municipal affairs and each day he would ask his nephew or one of his nieces to read to him the latest news.
As the "father of the San Francisco charter" Joseph Britton will be ever known to fame, not only In this city but all over the United States. His unselfish
spirit was shown In his refusal of many offices tendered to him during his long residence in this city. He labored for the welfare of the people and lived to see the
accomplishmnt of one of his most cherished plans.
Joseph Britton was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1825. He came to the United States when a lad and the news of the discovery of gold in California led him to
join the Argonauts in 1849. He joined the George Gordon party and sought the El dorado of the Pacific with other hardy spirits. The party left New York by
steamer and came to this coast via the Panama route after a most perilous journey.
Until 1852 Britton lived in various mining camps and then came to San Francisco. In this city he met J. J. Rey and with him established the firm of Britton
& Rey, lithographic printers. This firm exists to-day as one of the most stable business concerns of the Pacific Coast.
Joseph Britton was never married. His sister married his partner, Rey, a few years after she came to California to join
her brother. Mrs. Rey died a few months ago. Her husband died some years ago, and was succeeded in the firm of Britton
& Rey by his only son, V. J. A. Rey. Mr. and Mrs. Rey were survived by this son and three daughters, who watched by the
bedside of Joseph Britton with unceasing care, until be was called to his eternal rest.
When the vigilantes of '49 determined to rid the new city of the West of the criminal element Joseph Britton was a leading
figure axnong the reformers. When A. S. Hallidie Invented the cable road Joseph Britton was one of his most earnest supporters.
With the inventor, James Moffitt and Henry L. Davis, Britton built the Clay-street cable road -- the first cable road in the world.
In the early '50's and in 1870 Joseph Britton served as a Supervisor of this city.
For many years Mr. Britton devoted his entire energy to forming the Taxpayers' party, which afterward grew into the
committee of freeholders that drafted the charter for San Francisco. By unanimous vote Mr. Britton was elected president of
the committee of freeholders, and he steered the child of his brain through many perilous storms and squalls until it
was accepted by the majority of the voters of the municipality.
Joseph Britton waged a fight against the Central Pacific Railroad Company when the company sought to secure Goat Island
and when it tried to get an eastern entrance into San Francisco to the exclusion of any other transportation line.
At another time he fought the proposition of the same railroad to secure a right to a spur track through Golden Gate Park.
No arrangements have been made for the funeral services, but it is expected that the obsequies will be of a semi-public
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.
Thank you to John Colam, a cousin of William Newby Colam, for providing the
photograph and the biographical information.
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.
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 (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
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.
I took this photo of Henry Casebolt's home, now numbered 2727 Pierce Street, on 22-March-2010.
Casebolt, Simon M., car repairer Sutter St. Ry, r. 2528 1/2 Sutter
From The Hub, November, 1892, page 303:
HENRY CASEBOLT, who constructed the original Sutter-st. railroad,
died at his home, San Francisco, Cal., Sept. 22, at the age of 76 years
and 8 months. Mr. Casebolt was one of the best known of the older
residents of San Francisco. He was born in Virginia, where he lived
until 1852, when he came to California. His trade was that of a
blacksmith and he opened here a shop, which was at once overrun with
business. He soon established a large carriage factory and later entered
into contracts for building country roads. In all his undertakings he
was very successful and amassed a considerable fortune. In 1862 he
projected a street railroad from the ferries up Sutter-st. to the sand
hills in the Western Addition. As his scheme was thought to be in
advance of the times, Mr. Casebolt was compelled to furnish the money
for the road, which received a charter in 1863. In 1881 he sold out his
interest in this road, and since that time has devoted himself to
superintending his carriage business and his patents. His death was very
sudden. The day before he died he was in town attending to his affairs,
though he complained of not feeling well. He leaves a widow, three sons
and four daughters.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.
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
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 318.
A. N. 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.
Back in 2009, San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey contacted me. He
was setting up a page on the
Sheriff's Department website with an image of each sheriff who had
served since the department was founded in 1850. One man he couldn't
find was Henry L Davis, who served as sheriff from 1864-1867. I found
not one but two woodcuts in digitized issues of the San Francisco
From the 26-April-1895 San Francisco Call, page 8.
HENRY L. DAVIS.
HENRY L. DAVIS.
Henry L. Davis is a native of Rhode Island, 68 years of age. After
passing through the Mexican War, he came to San Francisco in the spring
of '50, and has since been identified with various business interests in
this city. Mr. Davis left his home in Rhode Island at the age of 13 to
strike out for himself. He first went to South Carolina. On his arrival
in San Francisco he went to the mines, but being unsuccessful he
returned to San Francisco and engaged in the shipping and commission
business. In 1857 he became a Deputy Sheriff and in 1864 he was elected
Sheriff and served four years in that position. He was one of the
organizers of the National Bank and Trust Company and was president of
it during its existence.
At the present time Mr. Davis is president of the California Optical
Company, which he started in 1888. He is secretary and treasurer of the
California Wire Works, and has held this position since the organization
of the company in 1882. He is also president of the Board of
Manufacturers and Employers of California and also president of the
Masonic Hall Association. He has numerous other business connections,
but has deeded nearly all of his property over to his children,
believing in leaving no property to be fought for after his death. The
assessment roll shows that he owns but ten lots in Gift Map 4, with a
total assessed value of $220.
From Proceedings of the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, Volume 31, 1915
Source: The Street Railway Journal, October, 1891.
Born in Budapest, 1839.
Charter Member, 1880.
Vice President, 1903-1904.
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,
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.
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
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 was a native of New Zealand. Duncan died on 04-September-1930.
Sources disagree as to his middle name. Some accounts have
"George W Duncan", others have "George S Duncan". I went
with the majority.
From the Melbourne Argus, 08-September-1930, page 8.
MR. GEORGE DUNCAN DEAD.
Notable Cable Tramway Engineer.
Mr. George Smith Duncan, M.Inst.C.E., London, formerly chief engineer to the Melbourne Tramways Trust, and consulting
engineer to the Melbourne Tramways and Omnibus Company, died at Sunnyside, Black Rock on Thursday, September 4. He had
been in failing health for some years Mr. Duncan, a son of the late Mr. George Duncan, a leading business man of
Dunedin N.Z., was born in 1853 and was educated in Scotland and at Clifton College, England. Returning to New Zealand
he went through a five years' engineering course under Messrs Thompson and Simpson of Otago, and two years later he was
appointed to the position of provincial engineer of Otago
Engaging in private practice in 1876, Mr. Duncan carried out a number of important works including the laying of the
Roslyn and Mornington cable tramways in 1883. At that time only a few cable tramways had been laid, and this system
of traction, as Mr. Duncan found it, was most primitive. Other tramways had all been laid in a straight line, as the problem
of carrying the hauluge cables round curves had baffled every engineer. Mr. Duncan solved this problem. At that time a cable
tramway system for Melbourne was projected, and the late Mr. F.B. Clapp, then chairman of the Melbourne Tramway and
Omnibus Company engaged Mr. Duncan as chief engineer it was he who designed and carried out this large undertaking.
Nothing on such a scale had ever been attempted before and when the system was in successful operation Mr. Duncan was
recognised by the engineering profession throughout the world as the leading authority on cable traction. It was in
recognition of this work that he was appointed a member of the Institute of Civil Engineets. After acting as engineer
to the Melbourne Tramways Trust for three years Mr. Duncan again engaged in private practice, devoting most of his attention to
mining engineering. He introduced into Australia the cyaniding process. In his later years and indeed almost to the time
of his death Mr. Duncan, who was an analytical chemist as well as an engineer, was endeavoring to make practicable a
process for extracting the gold which is held in solution in sea water. Working on a laboratory scale he succeeded in extracting
considerable quantities of the metal, but at a prohibitive price. Mr. Duncan married Miss Euphemia Kilgour of Dunedin, who
predceased him. He leaves two sons and a daughter. Mr. Alfred J. Duncan, who practices as a consulting engineer and who
was associated with Mr. Duncan during the years in which he was engineer-in-chief for the Melbourne Tramways Trust and
consulting engineer for the the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company, is the only surviving brother.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.
William Eppelsheimer was born in Germany in 1842, and after a course
in the public schools he was graduated from the Realschule of
Kaiserslautern in 1858. The following two years he served in a machine
shop as an apprentice, and from 1860 to 1862 he studied railroad and
machine engineering at the Polytechnic University in Karlsruhe. After
leaving the University he was connected with several large machine and
engineering works until November, 1868, when he left for the United
States, arriving in San Francisco in 1869.
In San Francisco he spent one year in the Union Iron Works, and
afterwards took charge of a number of engineering enterprises. In
February, 1872, he met A.S. Hallidie, and he was told by the latter of
the plan for constructing a cable railway up Russian Hill. In May, 1872,
canvassers were sent to obtain from the property owners of Russian Hill
subscriptions and donations for the construction of the railway, and a
considerable amount was secured in this way. Work was not commenced,
however, until June 2, 1873, and on August I, as already stated, a car
was run over the whole line, the franchise being thereby secured. The
line was then closed for another month for finishing some work which had
not been completed. Mr. Epplesheimer acted as engineer of construction,
and contributed largely to the success of the line, owing to his
engineering and mechanical ability. He was the patentee of a number of
the inventions used. He severed his connection with the Clay Street Hill
Railway Company in March, 1874, and continued his practice of civil
engineering, paying a great deal of time to the study of designs to
improve the system of cable railways. In 1879 he built the Geary Street
In the following year he left the United States to introduce the
system in Europe, and in 1883 and 18S4 built the Highgate Hill Cable
Tramway of London. In 1885 he prepared plans for the construction of the
Edinburgh Northern Cable Tramway. He is at present a resident of
Senator Dianne Feinstein (Source: Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein).
Many years ago, perhaps in 1999, I contacted the offfice of Senator Dianne Feinstein. I remember her participating in the
amateur portion of the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest some year in the 1970s, but
I could not remember what year. I contacted her office and they could not find out.
Dianne Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco during the Great Reconstruction of 1983-84. Without Mayor Feinstein
pushing the project, we might have lost the cable cars.
She was President of the Board of Supervisors and became San Francisco's first woman mayor when Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and
Supervisor Harvey Milk. She did a lot to help San Francisco recover from the tragedy.
Later she became California's first woman Senator. She wielded immense power as a member of the Judiciary Committee.
In her last year or so, before she died on 29-September-2023, she suffered from many health problems. People called for her to resign, but I knew she
wouldn't. I had been aware of her since I was in grade school.
Her aunt lived across the street from my parents' house.
Mayor Dianne Feinstein riding on a California Street cable car (Source: Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein). October, 2023 Picture of the Month.
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
Gillham later built the
Eighth Street Tunnel of the Inter-State Consolidated
Rapid Transit Company. In 1888, he built the Peoples Cable
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, a predecessor of the Kansas City Southern Railroad,
and served as its general manager. Robert Gillham died of
pneumonia in 1899.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.
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.
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,
Mr. Gillham Had Been Identified With Street Railways, the Pittsburg and Gulf and Parks of Kansas City --
He was a Public Spirited Citizen.
Robert Gillham is dead.
Mr. Gillham died at 5 o'clock last night at his residence, 2105 Independence boulevard,
from a complication of pneumonia and appendicitis. He had been ill only six days.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made. Undertaker Stine will have charge
and interment will bo at Forest Hill, where Mr. Gillham owns a large lot and where
his mother is buried.
Last Saturday night he went home feeling chilly. Soon after arriving at home he
had three hard chills in rapid succession. He was not alarmed, but thought he was
merely bilious. By Wednesday, however, it was apparent that he was a very sick man.
and Dr. G. C. Mosher was called in. He at once saw that his patient was suffering
from a severe attack of pneumonia. His condition continued to grow worse and Dr.
J. D. Griffith was sent for early yesterday morning. Both physicians, Mr. Gillham's
wife and two daughters, his brother-in-law, Albert Marty, and Judge C. E. Moss were
at the bedside of the sick man all day yesterday. He was conscious until within a
few hours .of the end, when he gradually sank into a stupor that terminated In a
quiet, sleepllke death.
Mr. Gillham, besides being general manager of the Pittsburg and Gulf railroad,
had just returned from a laborious trip of ten days over the road with the receivers.
The trip had taxed his strength considerably and he had caught cold. His associates
believe, also, that the tremendous mental strain that he had been under Tor
several months in the management of the Pittsburg and Gulf system, in its straits, had
told upon his health and weakened him so that he was an easy prey to pneumonia.
He had worried a great deal over the affairs of the railroad, and it was plainly
running in his mind when he became unconscious. One of the last things he was
heard to say was an almost inaudible muttering about the Belt line, a part of the
Pittsburg and Gulf system, and 'then he added distinctly:
"Life is too short to bother with all those details."
In the afternoon Mr. Gillham was clearly himself, and he discussed with his
physicians the advisability of using the oxygen treatment. He spoke of its success
in Kipling's case, and said he thought it was a good thing. Later he complained
frequently of the difficulty in breathing, and a few minutes before he lost consciousness
he looked up at his old business associate, Judge C. E. Moss, and said:
"I'm having a pretty hard time."
"Yes," said Judge Moss, "but you've been worse off than you are now."
Death Was Very Sudden.
Since Saturday Mr. Gillham had taken no nourishment except a little whisky. The
oxygen treatment had been used constantly. His death came so suddenly that
few knew that he was even ill. At 9 o'clock Rev. Dr. Henry Hopkins, pastor of
the church of which Mr. Gillham was a member, called at the residence. He was
met by someone at the front steps who informed him that Mr. Gillham was dead.
Dr. Hopkins went in and extended consolation and sympathy to Mrs. Gillham, who
is prostrated with grief.
O. H. Dean, J. McD. Trimble and other intimate friends and associates of Mr. Gillham,
learning by telephone of his death, came in later.
Sketch of His Life.
Robert Gillham was the builder of Kansas City's street railway system. He
engineered the street railway systems of all the other large cities of the West. He was not
only a skillful engineer, but a promoter and organizer of rare ability. Of late years
the Pittsburg and Gulf railroad had occupied the greater part of his attention, but
he was interested in nearly every important public enterprite In Kansas City.
As a member of the city park board he helped to plan the magnificent system of
parks and boulevards of which the city is just coming into possession.
In the language ot one of his oldtime friends last night, he had done more towards
making Kansas City what it is than any other man.
Robert Gillham was born in New York September 25, 1854. He was the third of
four sons of John and Clarissa Gillham. His first education was in a private school
at Lodi, N. J. When he was IB years old he entered a college at Hackensack. N. J.,
and studied engineering until 1874. In that year, at the age of 20, he established an
office at Hackensack as an engineer. His first work was so thorough and displayed
so much ability that he soon had all the sewerage, bridges and other engineering
contract work that he could attend to in Hackensack. and was beginning to do work
in New York city.
It was in October, 1875, that he came to Kansas City. It was then a small town
almost inaccessible. The city was reached by a ride up Bluff street to Fifth street
in a rickety, slow, painful mule car.
Uptown there was a dilapidated horsecar line to Westport, and the present extensive
systems then readied no farther than Forest avenue on the East, Twelfth street on
the south, and Fifth street on the north.
Mr. Gillham at once took hold of Kansas City's street railway problem. He planned
the Independence avenue and East Ninth street lines and built them. Then he built
the Elevated road to Kansas City, Kas. And all these enterprises were pushed
through by him in the teeth of the fiercest opposition. Ninth street had to be widened
and other obstacles were thrown in the way of a franchise, by the city council, but
Mr. Gillham finally overcame all theso difficulties and carried out the plans that
he foresaw would succeed.
Mr. Gillham went to work at a salary of $6,000 a year for the Kansas City Cable
Railway Company, as it was then called. Soon he was given $10,000 a year, and in a
few months Denver and Omaha had employed him to engineer their street rail
way systems. He received $10,000 a year from each of these and was soon making
from $40,000 to $5O,OOO a year in salaries -- the highest salaried man that Kansas City
On December 1. 1881, Mr. Gillham was married to Miss Minnie Marty, only daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. Matthias Marty, a prominent and wealthy family of Kansas
City. There are three children, Elsie and Edith, 17 and 15 years old and a little son
3 years old. The Gillham residence at 2106 Independence boulevard, the property of
Secretary Alger, is one of
the handsomest on the East side. His father, a man of over 70, lives at 1301
Belleview. With him lives Robert Gillham's granmother, 94 years of age. Mr.
Gillham's mother died last December at the age of 69.
Mr. Glllham had always enjoyed good health, though not a strong man physically.
Sixteen years ago he met with an accicdent that nearly cost him his life. It
was, in fact, a marvel that he recovered. No one thought he could live, and the case
was reported in medical journals as being a very unheard of one.
He had invented a new street car grip. He got under the cable trenches at the
power house to see how one of the new grips worked. While he was watching it
the gripman accidentally let the grip fall. It fell upon Mr. Gillham's head, fracturing
it in two places, the entire length of the skull. The fractures were bridged over
with metallic appliances and after a year's time, in which Mr. Gillham ahstained from
any active employment, he had recovered sulficiently to resume his work again.
It was to this accident that Judge Moss referred when he told Mr. Gillham he had
been in a worse condition than he was in yesterday afternoon.
Eastern Roads Wanted Him.
Little had been known of it except among his most intimate business associates, but
Mr. Gillham would soon have been connected with one of the 'great Eastern railroad
systems had he continued to live.
"They had recognized his ability," said Judge Moss. last night, "and negotiations
were pending to secure him. Had he lived there is no doubt that he would not have
been in Kansas City very much longer. Although it was not publicly known, magnates
of the Eastern roads were trying hard to get him.
"He had the quickest mind I ever saw," continued Judge Moss. "He could comprehend
most any kind of proposition, at a glance. He was a wonderful mathematician,
his reputation in this respect being not second even to that of Superintendent
Greedwood. of the public schools."
Judge Moss' voice trembled and tears came into his eyes as he spoke ot the
many other sides of Mr. Gillham's character.
"He was always so kind and pleasant, and when business looked discouraging
to me he could always figure a way out and cheer me up," he said.
Judge Moss and Mr. Gillham were for years the owners of the Armourdale
foundry, one of the largest foundries of the West. Both men made a great deal of
money out of it. Judge Moss finally selling out to Mr. Gillham for $130,000. At his
death Mr. Gillham owned the foundry, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Gus
A Street Railway Constructor.
Among the interesting stories told of Mr. Gillham by Judge Moss is one concerning
the first cable railway project In Kansas City. Mr. Gillham's first idea was to bring
the passengers from the Union Depot up the hill to Main street only. The complete
system of cable railway was not planned until later. He decided that $300,000
would be sufficient to do it, and at once set work "boring" his friends to take
$1,000 worth of stock apiece in it. It was slow, hard work. Cable Railways were
in their infancy then, and even Mr. Gillham's best friends looked upon his scheme as
impracticable. But Mr. Gillham would not allow himself to be discouraged. He kept trying
to raise the money. W. J. Smith, who was then at the head of the mule car system in
Kansas City, started on an Eastern trip from the Union depot one day. He happened
to sit down beside Philip Chase, of Lynn, Mass.. who was a passenger in the
same car. Mr. Smith called the attention of Mr. Chase to the steep bluff and said:
"There's a young engineer, a friend of mine. In Kansas City, that says he can
run cars up that hill by machinery, and that $300,000 will do it."
Mr. Chase, who was a wealthy capitalist, began to ask questions about Gillham and
his plan. Both men became more and more interested and although they were bound
for New York city they turned back at Chicago, came to Kansas City, consulted
with Gillham and at once put up $130,000 apiece. The result was the Ninth street
incline and a cable road to Woodland avenue. The stock soon went soaring upward
and Mr. Gillham sold $8,000 worth of it, his share, for $20,000. This was the
first bit of money that he made. After that it came fast and easily.
At the time Mr. Gillham built the Grandview line and Elevated road, he was worth
fully $250,000. He had then been in Kansas City barely ten years and had come here
a poor young man. Many thousands of dollars were invested by Mr. Gillham In
Grandview property. He had great faith in the future of property there and still
held it at his death, but values had depreciated to such an extent that he was not
estimated by friends who were asked concerning it last night to be worth so much
as $230,000. His salary as general manager ot the Pittsburg & Gulf railroad was $15,000
for the main line and extra amounts for the branches, perhaps $20,000 or $25,000 a
year in all. His income from the foundry and from the Elevated road and other
enterprises In which he was a large stockholder was considerable.
Besides the Kansas City cable lines, Mr. Gillham planned and constructed in 1888
the West End street railway, of Boston, with its seven power houses; eleven miles
of double track in Denver, the Omaha system, and lines in Cleveland, Fort
Worth, Providence, Brooklyn, Nashville, St. Joseph and Scranton, Pa. He was
consulting engineer in the Chicago elevated road building. It was while these vast
street railway enterprises were occupying every minute of his attention, and salaries
aggregating $30,000 were being paid to him, that Judge Moss Importuned him to
help him with the Armourdale foundry. This foundry was furnishing Kansas City
with all its Iron work, was making money fast and was giving Judge Moss more than
he could attend to. Mr. Gillham said to him: "I'm making too much at this to
quit it now. You go ahead with the foundry and just take out whatever salary
suits you. I'll be with you after awhile." "And so the foundry ran on for several
years." said Judge Moss. "Gillham owned the biggest part of it, but he let me go
ahead and pay myself as I saw fit."
Construction of the Tunnel.
In addition to the Ninth street incline, one of the greatest engineering feats
accomplished by Mr. Gillham was the construction of the Eighth street tunnel. This
was declared by many engineers to be utterly impracticable, but within eleven
months after ground was broken for it, in 1887, cars were running beneath the high
hluffs to the Union depot and across the Kaw into Kansas. Mr. Gillham was a
prominent contributor to the leading engineenng and scientinc periodicals of
England and America. He received a considerable income from the articles he
snatched the time to write, and was much interested in the discussion of scientific
subjects. He was on board tho steamer City of Paris three years ago when her
piston rods broke In mid-ocean, and everybody expected the ship to go down. Mr.
Glllham was the only engineer on board who exactly understood what the trouble
was, and it was to his direction that the salvation of the steamship was attributed.
When he reached Paris he wrote, by request, an explanation of the break in the
machinery, its causes, etc., which was published on both sides of the ocean.
As a Railroad Man.
With the passing of Mr. Gillham, one of the most unique figures in the railroad
world is removed. He was In many ways a remarkable man and possesed a tenacity of
purpose that was the fondatlon of his success. It was as a civil engineer that
his remarkable proficiency brought him into prominent notice. He is brought
into consultation regarding some exceedingly difficult engineering feat to be
accomplished in the building of the "Pee Gee." His ideas were lucid and practicable and
soon afterward he was appointed general manager of the road. He was absolute
in the operation of the line and he brought to bear many features that were new to
tho railroad world.
In the operation of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf railroad he kept in
touch with all the details and was quick to perceive a weak point and correct it
before it had been allowed to interfere with the earning power of the road, and the
consequence is that he had the affairs of the railroad within reach all the time
and established a system that would enable him to tell the condition of the road
at any time.
Tho most remarkable thing about his work and connection with the Kansas
City, Pittsburg and Gulf railroad was in the conception and final completion of the
Port Arthur canal, and when the waters of the Gulf flowed to tho wharf at Port
Arthur, there was no man in the country who felt the relief at tho accomplishment
of the great work is did Mr. Gillham.
As an executive officer he was called into consultation in all matters pertaining in
the affairs of the company, and in the days preceding the appointment of receivers he
made several trips East to consult with the financiers of the East. The confidence
which he enjoyed was never better exemplified than on the day when the petition
for the appointment of receivers was presented to Judge Thayer in the United
States circuit court. On that day all parties combined In asking Judge Thayer to
reappoint Mr. Gillham as receiver of the road. There are $23,000,000 of bonds of the
company, and it is estimated that over $20,000,000 was represented in court on that
day. The court instructed the receivers to retain him as general manager, a
compliment seldom paid to the ability of the head of the operating department of a
The success of the Port Arthur route is In a great measure largely due to the
untiring energy of Mr. Gillham.
Judge McD. Trimble, who as senior counsel, a director and receiver of the Pittsburg
and Gulf railway was associated for so many years with Mr. Gillham. said last night:
"Mr. Gillham was one of the brightest and most industrious of men. His capacity
for work was unlimited, and during recent years he has performed more work than
six men should have done. I am inclined to attribute his sudden death to his
nervous condition resulting from overwork. He vas full of zeal and energy and managed
his affairs with more than the usual amount of skill. His death is a great loss
to the community and to his profession.
"The effect of Mr. Gillham's death will he seriously felt on the road of which he was
general manager," continued Judge Trimble. "His place will be difficult to fill as he
knew every detail of his business. He has done much for the road, possibly more than
any other one man. His whole heart was with the railroad, and he gave it his entire
time and attention.
"It is yet too early to speak of his successor, but it will probably be necessary
for Colonel Fordyce, one of the receivers, to manage the operating department before
a new general manager is named. I do not think that Mr. Gillham's successor
will be an Eastern man. I am inclined to believe that a Kansas City man will be
appointed. However. Colonel Fordyce may favor a St. Louis man."
As a Park Enthusiast.
Mr. Gillham was an ardent friend and promoter of Kansas City's park and
boulevard system, which he helped to plan. He was foremost in all movetnents which had
for their object the beautificatlon of the city. He threw himself with all his energy
into the work and though almost, if not quite, as busy a man as President Meyer
himself he found time to do an immense amount of work in performing his duties
as member of the park board, to which he was appointed In 1895.
"Mr.Glllham was my personal friend," said President Meyer, of the park board, "and
I feel his death as a severe personal loss. But it is Kansas City that loses more than
I. Mr. Gillham was one of the best friends Kansas City ever had, and he has done as
much toward its growth and progress as any man. He had an immense energy and
he devoted it to the work in hand. The park work lay very close to his heart and
he gave freely of his time and energy for the city's good. Mr. Gillham was an ideal
citizen, and it will be hard to replace such a man. In many respects it cannot be
D. J. Haff, attorney for the park board said that with the possible exception of
Colonel Kersey Coates, the death of Mr. Gillham was the greatest loss Kansas City
had ever sustained.
"He had been driving sixteen horses abreast for years," said Mr. Haft. "He
gave freely of his vitality and there is no doubt that he undermined his strength, at
least in part, by the assiduity of his devotion to his duty."
Mr. Gillham's services were appreciated and he was serving his third term as a
member of the park board, having been appointed originally In 1895 by Mayor Davis,
reappointed in 1897 by Mayor Jones and reappointed for a third term last April
by Mayor Jones.
Mr. Gillham's death Is the third change in the park board within the past few
months. Charles Campbell resigned and was succeeded by J. K. Burnham: Simeon
B. Armour died and was succeeded by Wllliam Barton. Mr. Gillham's is the second
death In the park board within two months.
A Devout Christian.
Dr. Henry Hopkins, of the First Congregational church, of which Mr. Gillham was
a devout member, was deeply affected at his death.
"I married Mr. Glllham. December 1, 1881," he said, "to Miss Minnie Marty,
"I found Mr. Gillham, when I came here, one of the stanchest (sic - JT) members of the
church." he said, "and he soon became to me the warmest-hearted of friends. As a
friend and a church member I came to cherish him more and regard him more
highly up to the day of his death."
Tributes of Friends.
Mr. Gillham was a man who made friends and kept them. He was probably acquainted
with more people than any man in Kansas City. His death was a general
topic of regretful discussion throughout the city last night.
Mayor Jones was astounded when he learned of the death of Mr. Gillham.
"It will be impossible for this city to have another citizen who was so deeply
interested in the welfare ot the public and who will do more for the good of all," said
the mayor. "The citizens of Kansas City will always remember Mr. Gillham particularly
for his efficient service on the park board and the great improvements that are now being made
will be monuments to the skill and energy of the man who was one of the best citizens that this
city has ever known. He was an intimate friend of mine. The loss to the community will be a
J. K. Burnham remained with the bereaved family until a late hour.
"The people of Kansas City cannot realize their loss." said Mr. Burnham. "Mr.
Gillham's death will be felt in business and social circles alike. His generosity and
popularity were his prominent traits."
Walton H. Holmes, who knew Mr. Glllham most intimately through their association
during the growth of the street railway system In this city, said:
"Mr." Gillham was a pioneer cable road builder. The result of his hard labor will
ever be present.
"We owe the construction of many of our most important lines to him. I knew Mr.
Glllham most intimately and admired his many excellent traits of character. The
street railway business missed him when he assumed the position of general manager
of the Pittsburg and Gulf, and he will be missed much more now."
Mr. Glllham was a level headed businessman and a prominent member of the
Commercial Club. Ex-President William Barton said last night: "I regretted to hear of the
death of Mr. Gillham just as I was leaving tho theater. He was highly esteemed by all
and was an earnest worker. His death is a great loss to our city, not only in business
circles will this be felt, but also on the park board. I was just beginning to feel
that I knew him well, since our association together on the park board. I was particularly
impressed with his courtesy and consideration."
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 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 Halliday, who had
been royal physician to King William IV and Queen Victoria.
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 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:
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
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:
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
A MAN OF INTEGRITY
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
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.
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
For the Centennial year:
"San Franciso's 100-Year-Old Folly."
An item from the travel section of Newsday shows a drawing of a
Clay Street Hill Railroad grip car and passenger dummy.
(Source: Newsday (Suffolk Edition), 1973-07-29, Page 95).
June, 2023 Picture of the month.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 311.
ANDREW S. HALLIDIE.
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
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
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.
Rick Laubscher of today's Market Street Railway served as the emcee of the Sesquicentennial Kickoff Celebration.
He introduced little guy in the brown suit, who is cable car promoter Andrew S Hallidie. Hallidie explained that the geniuses at Stanford had brought him back for this event.
Steve Johnson stood in for Hallidie, who could not be there in person that day.
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
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.
J. W. 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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
From the February, 1902 Successful American, page 95-96.
CONWAY F. HOLMES.
GENERAL MANAGER METROPOLITAN STREET RAILWAY, KANSAS CITY, MO.
CONWAY F. HOLMES, youngest child of Nehemiah and Mary Holmes, was
born in 1864, in Kansas City, Missouri. He was educated in the schools
of that city and in the business college at Poughkeepsie, New York.
Following the example of his brother, Walton H.,
while yet a lad he entered the street railway service, and, with natural
aptitude and ambition to excel, became familiar with the practical
administration of all its various departments. In 1886, before he had
arrived at age, he became Superintendent of the Grand Avenue Railway
Company. Popularly known as the "Boy Superintendent," he commanded
entire confidence and respect in recognition of his abilities. In close
touch with his brother, to whom he was subordinate little more than
nominally, he heartily seconded his every effort, and divided with him
responsibility in important transactions. He was particularly
serviceable in forwarding the plans of the brother for the first
street-railway consolidation, and the subsequent merging of nearly all
the Kansas City lines in the Metropolitan Street Railway System, of
which he became General Superintendent when the consolidated
organization was effected, and is now General Manager. In addition to
his duties in connection with the street railway service, he is an
active Director in the Kansas City State Bank, and President of the
Kansas City Electric Light Company, having been elected to the latter
position January 1, 1900. In October, 1898, he was elected
Vice-President and a member of the Executive Committee of the American
Street Railway Association, and has the distinction of being the
youngest member ever elected to that office. There is marked resemblance
between him and his brother in both business and social traits. With
excellent executive powers, he accomplishes a purpose with great
exactness and promptitude, and with little display of authority, in
every detail giving unspoken assurance of a fully informed and
determined mind. In social affairs he shares equally in pleasures and
responsibilities, without affectation, out of desire for beneficial
recreation and to contribute to the entertainment of his associates. Mr.
Holmes was married, in 1885, to Miss Maud Gregory, daughter of W. L.
Gregory, the first Mayor of Kansas City, and founder of the Gregory
Grocery Company, one of the pioneer wholesale houses in that line. In
June, 1890, he became Vice-President of this concern. A son and a
daughter were born of this marriage; the former, William Gregory, at
thirteen years of age, is giving attention to work and study in the
electric shops of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company.
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
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 312.
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
Mr. Holmes is at present chief engineer for the Board of State Harbor
Commissioners, of San Francisco, having held this office since
Holmes Howard C., civil engineer, r. 3019 Sacramento
From the Sausalito News / Saturday, November 5, 1921. Page 2.
FAMOUS S. F. ENGINEER ENDS USEFUL CAREER
Howard Carleton Holmes, Builder of Ferry Building and Cable Lines
San Francisco. -- Howard Carleton Holmes, civil and consulting
engineer of national reputation, builder of the Ferry Building and most
of the early cable railways of San Krancisco, died at 5 p. m. October
30, at his home, 2584 Filbert street, after an illness of several weeks. He is
survived by his widow, Mrs. Josephine Bauer Holmes.
Holmes was stricken at his desk six weeks ago. He was removed to his
home, where his condition for a time showed marked improvement. During
the past week he had been gradually sinking. He was 67 years old.
Besides constructing the Ferry Building, Holmes is responsible for
the development of Lake Chabot, and a principal source of water supply;
the Alameda mole, the Key System mole, a greater part of the old
Oakland, Alameda and Piedmont railroad and the yacht harbor and freight
and passenger terminals at the Panama Pacific International Exposition
and the Hunter's Point drydocks.
Holmes' actual accomplishments extend the length of the Pacific
Coast, while his reputation is known to engineers in all parts of the
United States. He is the former consulting engineer of the Massachusetts
Harbor and Land Commission, the Esquimault Shipbuilding and Dry Dock
Company in British Columbia, the port of Portland Dock Commission, the
Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company, the Western Paciflc Railroad and most of
the larger corporations having terminal facilitiis in San Francisco
Since the age of 17 Holmes had been identified with engineering. He
was born June 10, 1854, at Nantucket, Mass., and when five years old
came with his parents to San Francisco. His father, C. Holmes, was
prominent in the early history of San Francisco as a miner and then as a
After receiving his education in the public schools of this city,
Holmes started out as a surveyor and became identified with a number of
leading engineers. He was only 19 years old when he made all the
contour surveys necessary for the development of Lake Chabot. At
twenty-one Holmes passed an examination for appointment as United States
Deputy Surveyor. Soon afterward he became assistant engineer of the
State Board of Harbor Commissioners, leaving this position to design
and build the Alameda mole and depot for the South Pacific Coast
Holmes directed his attention to street railway construction, when,
in 1887-88 he built the Powell street cable railway, then known as the
Ferries and Cliff House Railroad. During the next few years he built the
cable railroads at Portland, Spokane and the Madison street railway at
Seattle. Returning to San Francisco, he constructed the Sacramento
street branch of the Powell street road, the lower end of the California
street cable railroad and extended the Union street cable railroad from
Fillmore street to the Presidio. Later he secured the contract for the
electric street railway at Stockton.
Beoming chief engineer of the Harbor Board in 1892, Holmes built the
water terminals where all the railroads running into San Francisco, with
the exception of the Southern Pacific, and even in the latter's slips,
were installed the freight and passenger hoists invented by him. One of
his innovations was a torpedo-proof pile for wharves, concrete over a
core of wooden piles, which is now in general use all along the Pacific
Resigning in 1901 from his position with the harbor board, Holmes
became chief engineer for the San Francisco Dry Dock Company, at that
time the largest graving dock on the Pacific Coast. Later he prepared
plans for another dock at Hunter's Point, one of the world's biggest,
and one that will care for the greatest ocean liners and battleships. He
was chief engineer of the company at the time of his death.
In the East, as well as the West, Holmes was considered an authority
in his line. In 1904 he was commissioned by the Boston Harbor and Land
Board to report on the respective merits of graving and floating docks.
He also planned the Canadian Government's dry dock at Victoria.
He was prominent in the club life of the city, having been a member
of the Pacific Union Club, Bohemian Club. San Francisco Golf and
Country Club, Engineers' Club. besides American Society of Civil
Engineers, the Academy of Sciences, Occidental Lodge No. 22 of the Masonic
Order, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
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
Main 1868. Holmes, Howard C., Chief Engnr. S.F. Dry Dock Co., Ferry Bldg.
Baker 956. Same [Holmes, Howard C.], r. 2522 Green.
From the February, 1902 Successful American, page 93-94.
WALTON H. HOLMES.
PRESIDENT METROPOLITAN STREET RAILWAY, KANSAS CITY, MO.
WALTON H. HOLMES, the second child of Nehemiah and Mary Holmes, was
born in 1861, at Independence, Missouri. He was educated in the Kansas
City High School and the Christian Brothers' College, at St. Louis, and
devoted his vacations to work in the street railway office and among the
workmen on the road. When sixteen years of age he engaged in business as
a contractor and builder, employing a crew of forty men, quarrying and
breaking stone, continuing in this business for ten years. When
seventeen years of age he was made Vice-President of the Kansas City &
Westport Horse Railway Company, and would have been President had not
the law excluded one of his years from such position. Practically the
Manager of the road, his selection was no empty honor, but was due to
his knowledge of the duties devolving upon him and his capability for
their proper discharge. Upon attaining his majority he was elected
President of the Company, and from that time has been a leader in every
successive movement for the improvement and extension of rapid transit.
In 1886 he was the second to introduce the cable system, to the
displacement of animal power, and the first in the United States to
introduce the overhead trolley electric system, the newly equipped lines
having been the Kansas City & Westport, the Fifteenth Street and Walnut
Street, followed by the Mellier Place and Independence lines. He was
chiefly instrumental in effecting the consolidation of the Grand Avenue Cable Company and the Kansas City Cable Company under his own
management, in 1894. This change demonstrated the advisability of
further consolidation in the interest of economy, and chiefly through
his effort these properties and others were merged in the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, of which
Walton H. Holmes became Vice-President and General Manager, and Conway
F. Holmes became General Superintendent. While these important results
were effected mainly through the planning of Walton H. Holmes, his
brother, Conway F. Holmes, was his chief counselor
and assistant at every step, and the two were as one in both purpose and
agreement as to means.
With perfect mastery of every detail of the great business in his
charge, the conduct of President Holmes in management is easy and
unassuming, with no indication of self-importance, or that his duties
involve unusual labor or responsibility. Yet he has control of property
valued at $18,000,000, had directed the expenditure of $1,800,000 for
improvements in a single year, and has in employment 2,500 men, with an
annual pay-roll of about $1,000,000. While his attention has been
chiefly devoted to these important interests, of which he is the active
head, he has ever rendered aid in behalf of all enterprises conducive to
the development and improvement of Kansas City. It was chiefly through
his efforts that Mr. Fleming, of London, England, holding large
interests in the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and other
industrial enterprises, was induced to invest considerable capital in
the city. He has aided in the establishment of parks and boulevards, in
the building and rebuilding of Convention Hall, and in all the various
purposes of the Commercial Club, in which he is an active member. In
October. 1900, at its convention in Kansas City, Walton H. Holmes was
elected President of the American Street Railway Association. His
personal traits are those of the well-bred gentleman, who derives from
genteel society that relief from business cares which conduces to mental
equipoise and physical well-being, and who contributes the best of his
own attractive personality to the circles in which he moves. Mr. Holmes
was married, in 1884, to Miss Fleecie Philips, daughter of Dr. W. C.
Philips, of Austin. Texas, one of the most prominent surgeons in that
State, who performed duty in the Federal Army during the Civil War. She
is also related to Judge J. F. Philips, of the United States circuit
bench. A son born to this marriage, Walton Holmes, Jr., is being
carefully educated, and during vacations is engaged in the office of the
engineer of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 315.
ASA E. HOVEY.
Among the pioneers in cable railway construction, Asa E. Hovey claims
a prominent place, having been interested in devising a grip as early as
1852, and afterwards in 1873 patented a grip which was used on the Sutter Street Road in San Francisco, which was
cabled under his direction in 1874.
Mr. Hovey was born at Waterford, Vt., in 1830, and when about twenty
years of age, became a traveling salesman for the Fairbanks Scale
Manufacturing Company, whose works were located at St. Johnsbury, Vt. In
the latter part of the fifties he moved to San Francisco, and became
foreman in the works of Casebolt & Van Gulpin. Under his supervision the
first horse cars that were run on Market Street, in San Francisco, were
built. In 1865 he returned East, but went back to California in 1868. In
1871 he became chief engineer of the Sutter Street Railway, which was
then a horse line, and while the Clay Street cable road was building he
made a model of a modified system and submitted it to the directors of
the Sutter Street line, and at this time patented his cable grip. After
the California Street line was cabled Mr. Hovey assisted in starting the
line, suggesting some changes in the mechanism. He returned to the
Sutter Street line and gave considerable attention to the development of
his patents. Including the switch and grip. Under his supervision in
1880 the Sutter Street line was reconstructed with a wooden conduit
about the same as that employed in the first construction.
In 1880 C. B. Holmes, of Chicago, visited San Francisco and engaged
Mr. Hovey to supervise the cable construction of the Chicago City Company. On completing the first
section of the cable railway on State Street to 39th Street, the company
paid him the stipulated price and made him a present of $1,000 in token
of its appreciation of his ability. Mr. Hovey continued as chief
engineer of the Chicago City Railway Company until 1889, when he left to
go to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the
purpose of overhauling the single track cable line then in operation in
the city, and for devising plans for an extensive cable system. Here he
remained about two months, but the scheme never materialized, and he
returned to Chicago.
Since 1889 he has not been actively engaged in railway work, and is
living very comfortably with his wife and daughter in his home at 447
37th Street, Chicago. Mr. Hovey is a gentleman of the old school, and
blunt but genial in his disposition, but the various cable railways
which he has designed, and which are still in successful operation, are
living monuments to his engineering ability.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 315.
H. M. KEBBY.
Mr. Kebby's first experience in cable railway practice was in 1883 on
the Market Street system of San Francisco.
From this city he went to Los Angeles, where he was engineer and
superintendent of probably the first single
track cable railway ever built. From Los Angeles Mr. Kebby moved in
1887 to St. Louis, where he was assistant engineer to A. W. Wright, on
the Citizens' & Olive Street Line. In the following year
he designed the plans for the East 7th Street line and the Selby Avenue
power house of the St. Paul City Railway Company, of St. Paul, Minn.
In 1889 Mr. Kebby returned to St. Louis, and as engineer for Wright &
Meysenberg built the People's Railway on
4th Street and Chouteau Avenue. In the following year, as engineer for
the firm mentioned, he drew up the plans for the Broadway line of St.
Louis, including the power houses, and in 1891 and 1892 was chief
assistant engineer to A. W. Wright on the Blue Island Avenue and
Halstead Street cable lines of the West
Chicago Street Railway Company.
Mr. Kebby has been connected with a number of other engineering
enterprises, and is not chief engineer of the American Railway
Construction Copmpany, successors to Wright and Meysenberg.
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.
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
San Francisco 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.
In 1971, Mrs Klussmann led the fight to pass San Francisco Proposition Q,
which froze minimum cable car service in the city at the levels of 01-Jul-1971.
Mayor Joe Alioto presented Mrs Friedel Klussmann with an engraved silver tray from the
Cable Car Centennial Committee for her long time
service championing the "Save the Cable Cars" movement.
(Source: San Francisco Examiner, 1973-08-02, Page 14).
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. On 26-October-2022, the city rededicated the turntable.
A quote from cable car savior Mrs Friedel Klussmann.
(Source: White Plains Journal News, 1973-08-13, Page 16).
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313-314.
H. M. LANE.
The late W. B. Knight, of the firm of Knight & Bontecou extensive
cable railway builders, was a native of New York City, where he was born
in 1848. Mr. Knight studied civil engineering at the Rensselaer
Institute, Troy, N. Y., and commenced the practice of his profession in
1868. He became later connected with a number of steam railway companies
and the public works departments of different cities, and was at one
time City Surveyor of New York. He was also for three years City
Engineer of Kansas City.
In 1879, the engineering firm of Knight & Bontecou was established in
Kansas City, and while a member of this firm Mr. Knight assisted in the
design and construction of three or four cable railways in that city. He
died December 6, 1890, from injuries received in a railway collision.
His experience as an engineer covered a wide range and he achieved a
Joe Lacey stands by Cal Cable car 50 at California and Drumm about 1971. Joe was
a frequent contributor to this site. Joe Lacey collection. All rights reserved.
October, 2006 Picture of the Month.
Joe Lacey was born in San Francisco in 1943. He always called himself a "shirtail cousin" of Bob Murphy.
Joe's father was Muni Inspector Al Lacey. Joe was a Muni operator for many years and a conductor in the Cable Car Division.
Joe was eventually an inspector, like his father.
During his career, Joe collected a lot of Muni ephemera which otherwise would no longer exist. He also kept a detailed log of
his work. He made this comment in a 31-August-2014 email:
"I was taught in the first month of my MUNI career to keep track of
the hours, run, car, gripman worked with, unusual occurances.
"The hours worked was in dispute on many occasions. The book saved my
bacon on several occasions I was called to the Division Supt office to
answer citizens or Inspector's report of some wrong doing. With the book
I could refute the charge by noting, I didn't work that day, I had a
different car, they had wrong cap number, had different run number. When
they researched my input sure enough it wasn't me. I encourage all
operators to keep a book to keep 'the Man' honest."
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.
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.
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
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
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 315.
E. J. LAWLESS.
E. J. Lawless commenced his street railway career in 1877, on the Sutter Street cable line in San Francisco,
Cal., as foreman of a construction gang. He acquitted himself so
creditably at that work that he was shortly afterward appointed
assistant secretary. This position he held lor two years when, on a
reorganization of the company, he was appointed assistant
superintendent, holding that position until 1884. It was during this
period, when extensions and new power stations were built, that Mr.
Lawless acquired a thorough knowledge of the construction and operation
of cable railways in all its branches.
In 1885. Mr. Lawless was appointed superintendent of the Kansas City Cable Railway Company. The success
of this road was so great that other companies rushed into the field and
(he city was gridironed with cable lines. One of the first to follow was
the Metropolitan Cable Railway, which
engaged Mr. Lawless's services, to act in conjunction with its
constructing engineers, and also take charge of the operation of its
In 1888, Mr. Lawless retired from street railways and embarked in the
manufacture of cement, first in Fort Scott, Kan., and later in Salt Lake
City, Utah. In 1891, however, he was induced to return to the street
railway field, and was appointed manager of the Paterson (N. J.) Railway
Company. It was here that Mr. Lawless displayed his abilities as a
diplomat and general of many resources, when changing the horse car
system to electricity, in spite of the fierce opposition of a large
number of the property holders. On the completion and perfecting of its
system Mr. Lawless resigned his position, and now acts as Eastern agent
for the American Car Company, of St. Louis, Mo.
During his railroad career Mr. Lawless has been a regular attendant
at the Street Railway Conventions, and has always taken a prominent part
in the discussion of subjects brought before the meeting, believing that
the views and experiences of the numerous railroads throughout the
country under varied conditions should be fully ventilated for the
benefit of the association.
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.
D. J. 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.
Captain Robert McCulloch was a Civil War veteran and a street railway
manager, primarily in Saint Louis, Missouri. He died on 29-September-1914.
From the October, 1897 Street Railway Journal, page 654.
Robert McCulloch was born Sept. 15, 1841, of Virginia parents, who
were of Scotch descent. His ancestors settled in Virginia in the
colonial days, the male members on both sides having been soldiers of
the Revolution. He was left an orphan at an early age, entered the
Virginia Military Institute, at Lexington, Va., in 1859, and remained
there until the beginning of the war. When Virginia seceded, all the
cadets at the Institute were ordered to Richmond to drill the recruits,
and Cadet McCulloch served as drillmaster until Apr. 19, 1861, when he
entered the Confederate service. He took part in all the great battles
of the Army of Northern Virginia and was wounded five times, once at the
first battle of Manassas, once at the second battle of Manassas, once at
the battle of Frazier's Farm, and twice at the battle of Gettysburg. At
the last named battle, his regiment took part in the celebrated charge
of Pickett's Division, and every man in his company was either killed or
wounded. He was adjutant of the Eighteenth Virginia regiment and
afterwards captain of Company B of this regiment After the battle of
Gettysburg, he was sent to the military hospital in Baltimore, and
afterwards to the military prison on Johnson's Island in Lake Erie,
where he remained until the close of the war. In 1869, he went to
Missouri and resided for four years in St. Louis County near Florissant.
In 1874, he accepted the position of secretary of the Bellefontaine
Railway Company, and retained this position until 1893. In 1889, he was
made vice-president and general manager of the Citizens' Railway Company, the Cass Avenue
& Fair Grounds Railway Company and St.
Louis Railroad Company, which had just been bought by a syndicate of
Chicago capitalists. In 1889, Captain McCulloch was elected one of the
vice - presidents of the American Street Railway Association, and in
1896 he was elected president of the association. He has always had the
interests of this association at heart, and has been untiring in his
efforts, especially at the St. Louis convention in 1896, to broaden the
field of the association's usefulness.
Captain McCulloch is recognized as one of the most able and
progressive street railway managers in the country. Under his management
the Cass Avenue & Fair Grounds Railway lines have been changed from
horse to electric, the Broadway line of the St. Louis Railroad Company,
from horse to cable, and the Baden line of the St. Louis Railroad
Company, from horse to electric; the Southwestern electric line has been
projected and built; the Easton Avenue line of the Citizens' Railway
Company and the Grand Avenue line of the same company have been changed
from cable to electric, and the Marcus Avenue line of the Citizens'
Railway Company, from horse to electric. It is interesting to note that
he was the first street railway manager in America to undertake and, in
fact, insist upon the installation and operation of a direct coupled
generator, the first to use the cast welded joint, the first to use 60
ft. rails and the first to use a water car propelled by its own motors.
Broad-minded and courageous always, he has never hesitated to take the
responsibility of putting his well digested convictions into practice.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 316.
GEO. W. McNULTY.
Geo. W. McNulty was born in New York City, September 7, 1851, and is
descended on both sides of his house from old Revolutionary stock. He
was educated at the University of Virginia, and after being graduated
from this institution, returned to New York in 1868, and entered the
office of James Owens. While with Mr. Owens he was chiefly engaged on
the surveys made for the purpose of improving the roads of Essex County,
The preparations for building the Brooklyn Bridge had just commenced,
and Mr. McNulty, looking for a broader sphere of action, tendered his
services. He was told no additional help was needed. Not to be defeated
in his desire, he offered to serve without compensation, and Col. W. A.
Roebllng, the chief engineer, impressed by his earnestness, set him to
In 1884, after fourteen and a half years of continued and most
satisfactory service, he severed his connection with the Bridge staff,
and in connection with M. L. L. Buck established an office at 45
Broadway to engage in private practice. After being connected as
engineer with various enterprises, including the rebuilding of the
Niagara Falls and Clifton suspension bridges, he was appointed chief
engineer of the Broadway cable system.
His work in connection with this system is familiar to our readers,
through published accounts in the Street Railway Journal, and it was due
to his genius, to a large extent, that the great engineering
difficulties encountered in building this system were overcome. Mr.
McNulty is now chief engineer of the Wire Conduit Company.
from The Early Days and Men of California, William F. Swasey 1891.
Was born in Graham, Cumberland County, in the State of Maine, January
9, 1819. He was descended from a long line of most honorable ancestry.
The name is inscribed upon the roll of honor among the Revolutionary
heroes and patriots that gave us our independence. His grandfather,
David Morton, and seven other Mortons, all related, served in a
Massachusetts regiment at Long Island under General Sullivan. He was
present at the taking of Long Island by the British, and also at the
battle of White Plains. His father, David Morton, served in the war of
1812, and was one of the last survivors of that memorable contest .
Reuben Morton was essentially a self-educated man, but he inherited a
sanguine disposition and an indomitable will. Being a member of a
growing and increasing family, he early determined to relieve his
parents of the burden of his support, and become the architect of his
In obedience to this dictate he left his home at the early age of
thirteen, and obtained employment in a cloth factory. He continued in
that occupation until he was twenty-one years of age, when he sought and
obtained a situation in the Lowell factories. In 1842 he entered into
business in Boston, in which he continued until 1849, when the news of
the discovery of gold in California reached him; and, animated by the
same spirit of independence that characterized his boyhood days, he
immediately determined to be among the first to seek its golden shores.
In accordance with this determination, on the 10th of February, 1849,
he embarked on board the bark Lanark, bound for San Francisco via Cape
Horn, where, after undergoing all the deprivations and discomforts
incident to such a voyage at that time, he arrived, on the 12th of
At the time of his arrival San Francisco was in a state of the
wildest excitement. All business methods seemed to be lost sight of;
tales of the fabulous wealth to be obtained in the mines by mere manual
labor, were told upon every side; gold-dust was almost the sole
circulating medium, and everybody had a plethora of it, carried loosely
in their pockets in the shape of chispas, ranging all the way from a
quarter to several ounces in weight; and every new arrival seemed to be
agitated by but one idea, a feverish desire to reach the mines as soon
Mr. Morton and four of his fellow-voyagers soon left for the mines,
and went to Mokelumne Hill, where they located several mines. After
remaining there until the summer of 1850, and meeting with but
indifferent success, Mr. Morton returned to San Francisco and entered
the employ of C. B. Gillespie as teamster. In a short time he commenced
the draying business upon his own account, which, increasing rapidly and
becoming very profitable, he took as partner his brother John, and
established the firm of R. & J. Morton.
The business steadily grew in magnitude, and generously rewarded its
proprietors. But the wearisome and unceasing labor that it required
overtaxed his strength and soon undermined his health; and in 1871 he
sold his interest in the business to his brother, Sergeant S. Morton,
and J. Ruggles, and went East seeking its restoration. He returned in a
few months very much recuperated, and connected himself with the Central
Street Railroad Company, and in July, 1871, was elected its president
and superintendent, which position he held until his death.
He also became one of the original promoters of the Geary Street Cable Railroad, which was
constructed and operated under his supervision and superintendency. The
success of these enterprises is due, in a very great measure, to the
same untiring energy and executive ability that characterized his whole
life. But the seeds of a fell disease had been implanted in his system,
and finally developed virulent cancer of the stomach, which compelled
him to cease all active business pursuits, and soon prostrated him upon
a bed of sickness. For months he endured the most excruciating torments
with heroic fortitude.
About a month previous to his death, his system rallied slightly, and
he was advised to seek a change of climate. He, accordingly, went to
Chicago. But, despite the most eminent medical advice and most tender
nursing, the disease culminated in his death on the 9th of July, 1882,
at Chicago, where his obsequies took place.
Two brothers survive him in San Francisco, John Morton, still
carrying on the same business inaugurated by the two brothers in 1850,
and Sergeant S. Morton, the popular ex-supervisor and capitalist.
Mr. Morton left an ample estate, in the disposition of which he did
not fail to remember most generously everyone of near kinship, with
whom, without exception, his memory remains embalmed with the tenderest
love and in vernal freshness.
His death created a sad void in social and business life in San
Francisco, where it was sincerely and generally deplored.
An ad for Morton Draying from the 29-July-1900 San Francisco Call.
Robert F Morrow led the group which purchased the Sutter Street Railway from
Henry Casebolt. Morrow was born in what is now West Virginia on 31-December-1831.
He came to California in 1852.
from The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce. 1911.:
Ambrose Bierce was not a fan of Robert F Morrow. Maurice Schmitt was one of Morrow's partners in the Sutter Street Railway.
from FOUR OF A KIND
ROBERT F. MORROW
Dear man! although a stranger and a foe
To soft affection's humanizing glow;
Although untaught how manly hearts may throb
With more desires than the desire to rob;
Although as void of tenderness as wit,
And owning nothing soft but Maurice Schmitt;
Although polluted, shunned and in disgrace,
You fill me with a passion to embrace!
Attentive to your look, your smile, your beck,
I watch and wait to fall upon your neck.
Lord of my love, and idol of my hope,
You are my Valentine, and I'm
RT (Bob) Murphy was a native of San Francisco who grew up in the
Richmond District. He served in the Army and went to Vietnam. He worked
for the San Francisco Municipal Railway, driving buses, operating
streetcars and gripping cable cars for many years. He fought management
for safety and worker's rights. He participated in a reform group which
published a newsletter called Draggin the Line.
Murph emigrated to Australia when Richard Nixon was reelected in
1972. He operated trams, drove trucks, and wrote about the trucking
industry. He didn't take crap from anyone.
from Western Jewry: An Account of the Achievements of the Jews and Judaism in California, Including Eulogies and Biographies,
The Jews in California, by Martin A. Meyer. 1916.
THOUGH at this writing it is nearly six years since Joe Naphtaly went
to his reward, neither his good deeds nor his genial personality have
been forgotten. A lawyer of scholarly attainments, he held high rank
among the legal fraternity of California and was in his time foremost
among the Jewish practitioners hereabouts.
Joseph Naphtaly was born in Prussia September 29, 1842. His early
education was received in the Gymnasium of Berlin, and at the age of
thirteen he came to San Francisco, where he attended the public schools.
Later he entered Yale University, from which institution of learning
Naphtaly graduated with the degree of LL. B. Returning to San Francisco,
he entered the county clerk's office for a while, after which he entered
the practice of his profession.
The law firm of Naphtaly, Freidenrich & Ackerman, comprising Joseph
Naphtaly, David Freidenrich and Charles L. Ackerman, was soon organized
and became in time one of the biggest and best known in the State.
He was a lawyer par excellence and enjoyed a lucrative practice. That
he shared his prosperity with those less favored by fortune is known to
a host of people. He was generous almost to a fault and it was often
suspected that his goodheartedness got the better of his judgment.
Naphtaly was intensely Jewish. For many years a director of Temple
Emanu-El, he rendered that institution distinguished service. His
breadth of view and his desire for sane and rational progress in
Judaism, as in all other things, kept him among the leaders in Jewish
communal affairs. He was a director of the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum
and vice-president of the First Hebrew Benevolent Society. He was a
Mason in high standing and was also affiliated with the I. O. B. B. and
I. O. O. F.
At one time he was a member of the State Assembly and served in 1869
as chairman of the judiciary committee. Joseph Naphtaly was married in
1869 to Miss Sarah Schmitt. Their children are Mrs. L. B. Feigenbaum and
Samuel L. Naphtaly
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 318.
C. T. NASH.
C. T. Nash, at present superintendent of motive power and cable
department for the West Chicago Street
Railroad Company, began his cable railway experience with the Chicago City Railway Company, on January 1,
1882, when he took charge of the ropes of that company, the first cable
line operated east of the Rocky Mountains. Great annoyance having been
experienced by the frequent stranding of the ropes in this early
experiment, caused by the slipping of the strands at the splice, Mr.
Nash devised a new method of splicing known as the Nash or knot splice,
which he patented and which is quite generally employed by cable
Mr. Nash remained about eight years with the Chicago City Railway
Company, when he resigned to take charge of the ropes of the North and West Chicago Street Railway
systems, but resigned after a service of six weeks and accepted a
position with the John A. Roebling's Sons Company, rope manufacturers of
Trenton, N. J. He was sent out by the company to collect statistical
data pertaining to cable railways, and remained in its service for about
three years, in which time he made several visits to all of the cable
railway lines then operating in the United States, and made diagrams and
reported upon the salient features of the system, having special
reference to the character of the winding drums, pit and guide pulleys.
Having finished this class of work, he returned to the employ of the
West Chicago Street Railroad Company, and has since been connected with
Mr. Nash was born at Mt. Loffy in Pennsylvania, in 1846.
Under Mr. Nash's supervision, the life of the ropes of the West
Chicago Street Railroad system has been increased, on the main lines
from 70 to 75 per cent. and on the tunnel section, 33 per cent.
I'm looking for other references to this poor guy. His claims were probably exagerrated.
From the San Francisco Call / Friday, January 24, 1896. Page 2.
Inventor Olson Insane.
CHICAGO, Ill., Jan. 23. -- M. Olson, who was master mechanic and inventor in the
employ of the Chicago City Railway Company for a dozen years, was adjudged insane in court
to-day. He invented the grip-car which is now in use on the cable systems as well as many
other valuable street-railway equipments which be neglected to have patented. In 1893 he
invented a car truck which is now in extensive use. He superintended the construction
of the Metropolitan Street Railway
of Kansas City, Mo.
(Source: Salem Statesman Journal, 30-July-1950, page 10
Joe Orengo was an Italian-American baseball player, coach and manager. He was born in San Francisco
on 29-November-1914. He played for several teams in the PCL and the major leagues, including the
Sacramento Solons and the New York Giants. He played all positions in the infield. Later he was
general manager of the San Francisco Seals and director of the San Francisco Giants' speakers
bureau. I remember him making announcements before games at Candlestick.
Why do I mention Joe Orengo in a website about cable cars?
Playing in the minor leagues, Joe Orengo made $100 a month. During the off-season, he
worked as a gripman for the California Street Cable Railroad.
"I worked 12 hours a day on the California Street line, and I got 50 cents an hour." Harry
Jupiter was sports editor of the San Francisco Examiner forever. He came and talked
at our high school.
(Source: San Francisco Examiner, 23-May-1988, page 36)
So Joe Orengo combines two of my great interests, cable cars and baseball. Joe Orengo
died on 24-July-1988.
Joe Orengo hit a grand slam on 19-June-1937, leading Sacramento in a victory over the Seattle Indians.
(Source: Salem Statesman Journal, 20-June-1937, page 7)
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
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.
COL. W. H. 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.
Ten-time grand champion Carl Payne gives an exhibition at the 2016 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest.
Defending champ Byron Cobb stands to the left.
Photo by Joe Thompson. September, 2021 Picture of the Month.
Carl Payne was the only 10-time winner of the Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. He was
also a transit operator, police officer, San Francisco ambassador and great all-around
guy. Above we see him giving an exhibition performance at the
2016 contest. He was born in Pittsburgh, but settled in San Francisco
after he served in the Marine Corps.
He went to work for Muni and stayed for 29 years. He spent 28 years
working in the Cable Car Division. The only person who has come close to
his record of ten Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest championships is Byron
Cobb, who has won eight times. Payne travelled the world, appeared with
symphony orchestras, and shared his joy for life with everyone.
While working on the cable cars, Payne became an expert at spotting
pickpockets. When he left Muni, he applied to join the San Francisco
Police Department. He passed the test, but was told that he was over the
maximum age. He sued the department and eventually won. He spent 25
years with the police. After retiring from the SFPD, he became a Golden
Gate Park ranger. He had to give that up when he started to have health
The image above shows him giving an exhibition at the 2013 Cable Car
Bell Ringing Contest. Four former champs gave an exhibition at the 2017
contest: Al Quintana (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994), Ken Lunardi (1997, 2002,
2006), Frank Ware (1999, 2004) and Carl Payne (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981,
1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989).
Carl Payne died on 07-August-2021 after a long career of service to
the people of San Francisco and our visitors.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 317.
William Phenix began his cable railway career in 1881 with the Chicago City Railway Company, being
superintendent of the street construction and street machinery of the
entire cable system of this company under Asa Hovey,
After the system was fully in operation, Mr. Phenix had full charge
of the ropes and street machinery for a short time, when he resigned his
position and superintended the construction of the Walnut Hills cable railway of Cincinnati, O., under Harry Lane, as chief engineer and designer of the
system. He then removed to St. Louis and became superintendent of
construction of the east half of the first cable railway built in that city,
under William Noble, chief engineer. This road was built on the Boyer
system, but the grip employed was invented by Mr. Phenix. Mr. Phenix
afterwards built from his own patents a single track cable railway in
Grand Rapids, Mich., this being the first single track cable line with
turnouts then constructed. All the plans, including the machinery and
power bouse, were designed by Mr. Phenix, who also superintended the
setting up of the machinery. He then designed and built a similar line
in Sioux City, Ia, having eight turnouts,
a horse shoe loop and a crossover switch at one terminal. The road was
built over uneven surface and contained many curves, a construction
requiring great skill in manipulating the ropes around a single track
curve. This was at the time one of the best constructed cable railways
in the country from a mechanical standpoint, and, together with the
power house design, indicated good engineering skill.
Mr. Phenix has been connected with the building and engineering of
steam plants for electric railways and built the power plant for the
Citizens' Street Railway, Memphis, Tenn., and the power station of the
North Side Street Railway of Ft. Worth, Tex.
He is at preset engaged as inspector of track construction by the New
Orleans Traction Company. Mr. Phenix was born at Carthage, Maine, in
1831, and previous to his engaging in street railway work was an
architect and builder. Under his supervision were constructed a number
of large buildings in Chicago and elsewhere.
I suspect his name was really Salvador, but the newspapers used the Italian spelling.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 316.
S. POTIS, JR.
Mr. Potis holds the position of mechanical engineer with the
West Chicago Street Railway Company, and has been in the employ of this
company virtually since 1889. He was assistant to A. D.
Whitton, in designing the cable systems of the north and west sides,
and himself designed the vaults and special work of the Clybourn Avenue
on the north side, and changing machinery in the Clark Street power
station. He also designed the cable turn table employed in this line,
which is the largest and only cable turn table, we believe, employed
east of Kansas City.
More recently Mr. Potis designed and built the Desplaines Street
power station of the Blue Island Avenue cable line, and planned the
reconstruction of the Washington Street station, from which two cables
are now operated over the loop. Mr. Potis planned and built the Blue
Island Avenue and Van Buren Street power stations, and put in all the
vaults. He also designed and superintended the construction of the track
rack rail brake and the self-acting depression pulleys in the tunnel.
The rack rail brake consists of a rack in the bed of the track, into
which a pinion meshes, and by which the speed of the car is checked
through the medium of friction clutches.
Mr. Potis also designed and built the special work for the State
Street loop, which was put in a year or two since. His more recent work
with the company includes the design and construction of the California
Avenue electric station of the Chicago Electric Transit Company, in
which power was turned on five months after the ground was broken, the
station containing 8,000 steam H. P. Mr. Potis has also designed and
superintended the construction of the West Side Company's new station at
Western Avenue and Washington Street, which is to have a capacity of
12,000 H. P.
Mr. Potis was born in La Guayra, Venezuela, South America, in 1861,
his father being a seaman. His early education was obtained at the
Queen's Collegiate School on the Island of Trinidad, and also at Bolivar
College on the same island. In 1880, Mr. Potis came to the States and
located in Brooklyn, N. Y., being connected with the Continental Iron
Works, and while thus employed, he studied mechanical drawing and
engineering, at the Cooper Institute, in New York, for four years. From
1884 to 1886, he worked at the Hoff, Fontaine & Abbott Engine Works, in
Philadelphia, which works were engaged in the building of engines,
mining machinery and boilers, and during this time Mr. Potis studied at
the Spring Garden Institute, Philadelphia.
In 1886, he returned to South America, but came to Chicago in the
latter part of the same year and engaged with Fraser & Chalmers in the
manufacture of engines, until 1889, when he became connected with the
United States Construction Company, as assistant to A. D. Whitton, this
company being controlled by the same parties who control the North
Chicago street railway system, and on the death of Mr. Whitton,
succeeded as chief engineer on the roads controlled by Chas. T. Yerkes.
Mr. Potis is a member of the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers, and has attained a creditable reputation both in the cable
and electric railway fields. Mr. Potis speaks three languages fluently,
French, Spanish and English.
From the May 5, 1900 Street Railway Journal, page 460.
Salvator Potis, a noted civil and mechanical engineer, was found dead
in his apartments at the Technical Club, Chicago, April 17, with a
bullet wound through his heart. It is thought he took his life while
temporarily insane from the effects of an attack of the grip. He was
about forty-two years old and the son of a general in one of the
revolutionary armies of Venezuela, and was born at Caracas. Mr. Potis,
when a boy, was sent to the United States to be educated. He was
graduated from the technical school of the University of Pennsylvania.
Then he enlisted as an engineer in the American Navy, and after
serving the enlistment entered on the business side of his profession as
a mechanical and civil engineer. He went to Chicago twelve years ago and
became associated with the North Chicago and West Chicago Street
Railroad Companies. He designed and built most of the power plants of
both companies, completed the Van Buren Street tunnel and the Union loop
power house. Mr, Potis left one son nine years old.
From the May 15, 1900 Street Railway Review, page 294-295.
MR. SALVATOR POTIS was found dead in his room at the Technical Club,
Chicago, on the afternoon of April 17th, he having committed suicide
with a revolver. Mr. Potis was about 40 years of age, and a native of
Caracas, Venezuela, from which country he was sent to the United States
when a boy by his father, who was a general in one of the revolutionary
armies. He gradutaed from the University of Pennsylvania, came to
Chicago 15 years ago, and entered the service of the West and North
Chicago Street Railroads, where he was soon promoted to the office of
chief engineer. In that position he constructed the largest plants of
both roads, the Van Buren St. tunnel under the Chicago River, and the
large station of the Union Loop elevated. About two years ago he
returned to his native country, but a few months since came back to
Chicago, taking charge of the work of the Illinois Telegraph & Telephone
Co., which is tunneling the business streets with immense conduits.
About three years ago Mr. Potis suffered repeated bereavements, losing
by death within six months both his parents, his wife and one child.
Ever since that time he has been subject to periods of intense
melancholia, and it was undoubtedly during one of these that he took his
life. He leaves one child, a son, nine years of age, who is living with
relatives in Venezuela.
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.
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
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
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 by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893 by Emiliano Echeverria, Michael Dolgushkin and Walter Rice
was published in 2017. I wrote a review
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.
San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893
San Francisco's Transportation Octopus, the Market Street Railway of 1893, a new book by Emiliano Echeverria, Michael
Dolgushkin and Walter Rice, is now available as an Ebook on a DVD. I have written a small review.
Update December, 2017: Ten years after Walter's passing, I find that I often think about things he taught me and try to
imagine what he would say about new situations. He would be happy to see that the cable cars have continued to thrive, but I think
he would feel that fares have reached the point where demand is elastic.
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,
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
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 316.
Henry Root, one of the best known pioneers in cable traction is at
present a resident of San Francisco.
He was the chief engineer in building the California Street road of
San Francisco, the third cable road to be constructed in the city, and
his achievements in planning, improving and constructing cable railways
have made for him a wide and enviable reputation. The California Street
line is operated with the lever grip with vertical working jaws,
invented by Mr. Root, and the roadbed constructed of iron yokes and
concrete, the conduit in the roads previously constructed having been
made of wood. Mr. Root has been prolific in inventions pertaining to
cable railways, having not only invented the grip, but the combination
(open and closed) car, which is employed on most of the lines of the
Pacific Coast, track switches, turn tables, and different styles of
curve pulleys. In the development of cable railways Mr. Root has been
employed as consulting engineer on many of the lines that have been
built in the United States, and his patents have been extensively
employed, from which he has received a large royalty, and having
made successful real estate investments in San Francisco,
has now accumulated quite a fortune.
From the 26-April-1895 San Francisco Call, page 8.
William Sinon is a retired builder and contractor. He is a native of
Cork, Ireland, 55 years of age. He came to America in 1843. After being
in Canada a few years he came to the United States. He returned to
Canada, but in 1859 be came to San Francisco and has remained in this
city ever since. He engaged in the building business and found it very
profitable. He has put up hundreds of bouses, some of them for
millionaires. Mr. Sinon built the house in which he resides, at 2015
Hyde street, thirty years ago and has occupied it since then. He pinned
his faith to the northern hills of the city and as fast as he made money
he purchased lots in the neighborhood of Union, Hyde, Leavenworth and
Filbert, Larkin and Green streets and the vicinity. As fast as he could
he built nouses upon the lots and is now enjoying a good rental and
still improving his lots which have no houses on them. The majority of
the buildings owned by Mr. Sinon are comfortable homes.
William Sinon was one of the incorporators of the Clay-street
Railroad Company, the first cable road in the world. The six other
incorporators were Henry L. Davis, Joseph Britton, A. S. Halladie,
Richard Tobin, Robert Sherwood and Fred Hamilton. The three last-named
men are dead, but the first, three are still alive, and, peculiarly
enough, the first two of the three named are members of the present
Grand Jury. Mr. Sinon built the engine house for the Clay-street cable
road and put in the first machinery at the corner of Clay and Kearny
streets. Mr. Sinon is president of the Commonwealth Building and Loan
Association, but occupies no other office. He is a widower and has two
children. All of his property is in San Francisco. The assessment-roll
shows that he owns the following property:
Lot on the northwest corner of Hyde and Union streets; assessed
value, $510; improvements, $500; total assessed value, $1010; tax, $15
82. Adjoining lot on Hyde street, to the north, assessed value, $510;
improvements, $700: total assessed value, $1210; taxes, $18 94.
Adjoining lot to the north, assessed value, $1100; improvements, $320;
total assessed value, $1420; taxes, $22 24. Adjoining lot to the north,
assessed value, $490; improvements, $300; total assessed value, $790;
taxes, $12 38. Adjoining lot to the north, assessed value, $1850;
improvements, $1800; total assessed value, $3650; taxes, $57 20. Lot on
Union, near Hyde, assessed value, $470; improvements, $250; total
assessed value, $720 (subject to mortgage of $00, original mortgage
$5000, but covers two other similar pieces of property); taxes, $11 30;
another lot on Union street, hear Hyde, assessed value, $520;
improvements, $250 ; total assessed value, $770 (subject to mortgage of
$428 as above); taxes, $12 08; another lot on Union street, near Hyde,
assessed value, $1050; improvements, $1050; total assessed value, $2100
(subject to mortgage of $1168, as above); taxes, $32 90: lot on
thesouthwest corner of Filbert and Hyde streets, assessed value, $1980;
improvements $1100; total assessed value, $3080; taxes, $48 26; lot on
Hyde street, near Filbert, assessed value, $1260; improvements, $1300;
total assessed value, $2560; taxes $40 32; lot on Hyde street, near
Filbert, assessed value, $1260; improvements, $300; total assessed
value, $1560 (subject to mortgage of $700; original amount of mortgage,
$5000, similar to other one mentioned above); lot on Hyde, near Filbert,
assessed value, $320; improvements, $50; total assessed value, $370;
taxes, $5 80; lot on Larkin, near Green, assessed value, $2540;
improvements, $1600; total assessed value, $4140 (subject to mortgage of
$2304. same as one immediately preceding); taxes, $64 86; lot corner
Leavenworth and Filbert, assessed value, $330; taxes, $5 18; lot on
northwest corner of Leavenworth and Havens, assessed value, $330; taxes,
$5 18; lot on Green, near Hyde, assessed value, $730; improvements,
1400; total assessed value, $2130; taxes, $33 38.
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 313.
J. C. H. 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
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
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
Mr. Stut has also been engaged on other well known plants, not only
in the cable railway line, but in other engineering work.
Gustav Sutro, banker, broker and public utilities magnate, was a
cousin of Adolph Sutro. Gustav was born on 20-October-1827 in Aachen,
Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Gustav came to San Francisco from
Germany in 1854. He opened a cigar store on Montgomery Street with his
cousin. Gustav and his brother Emil later founded a bank and brokerage
which dealt mostly in municipal securities.
In the 1870s, Gustav acquired a controlling interest in the Omnibus Railroad. He reorganized the
company and converted many of its lines from horse to cable traction.
His obituary states that he pushed other transit companies into
He was one of the founders of the electric utility that later became
part of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PGE).
Gustav Sutro died in San Francisco on 12-March-1897.
From the San Francisco call / Saturday, March 13, 1897. Page 2.
LIFE AND DEATH OF GUSTAV SUTRO
Brief Sketch of a Prominent Pioneer Just Passed Away.
Was the Originator of the
Streetcar Transfer System.
The Firm of Which He Was President Dealt Extensively in Municipal Securities.
The kindly face of Gustav Sutro, the banker and linguist, will never
again be seen by his many friends on Montgomery street. He died at his
residence, 1718 Pine street, on Thursday night.
The deceased was well known in San Francisco, where he had resided
almost continuously since 1853, at which time he started a cigar-store
on Montgomery street, in front of the then well-known saloon of Barry
and Patton, with his cousin, Adolph Sutro, the ex-Mayor of this City.
Leaving there, he went to Victoria, B. C, and engaged, in a similar
business with his brother, the late Emil Sutro. Returning again to San
Fraucisco, he formed a co-partnership with his brother, Charles Sutro,
in the banking and brokerage business at 418 Montgomery street, where he
remained until his death.
In this business the firm dealt extensively in municipal bonds, and
in the handling of such securities be became an expert and authority.
This valuable knowledge came to him from early training, for after
leaving school he entered the banking-house founded by his father in
Aix-la-Chapelle in the early part of the century. He was there
thoroughly trained for the line of business he chose in later life.
In addition to bis banking and brokerage business he was identified
in other pursuits which tended to develop the City, especially in the
In the seventies he purchased a controlling interest in the old
Omnibus Railroad Company, then a borsecar line, and be came its
president. Under his management the Omnibus Cable Company was organized
and the system converted into a cable line, which soon became the most
extensive in this City.
The deceased will always be remembered with gratitude by the public
of this City, for under his management of the Omnibus the system of
general translers on the streetcar lines of this City was originated. In
fact, be forced the Market-street Railroad and the other railroad
companies to adopt that system. Mr. Sutro continued president of the
Omnibus Cable Company until it was consolidated with the Market street
and other linos.
He was also one of the founders of the California Electric Light
Company, which under his management grew into the powerful Edison Light
and Power Company, which was lately consolidated into the San Francisco
Gas and Electric Company. He was also prominently identified with the
powder manufacturing interest of this coast. He was president of tno old
Safety Nitro Powder Company and brought about its consolidation with the
Giant Powder Company. He was also a charter member of the Stock and Bond
Exchange of San Francisco, holding his seat up to the time of his death.
The deceased was a brother of Charles and Albert Sutro of this City
and of Elvira Gradwohl of Albany, N. Y., and a brother-in-law of Herman
Zadig, the stockbroker of this City, whose sister he married in Hamburg,
Germany, in October, 1864.
Mr. Sutro was a man of polish and culture, as everything about his
late residence indicates. He received a good education in the High
Scuool of his native city and became very proficient in his studies.
When only 16 years of age he could speak, read and write German, French,
Spanish and English.
The funeral will be held from his late residence to-morrow afternoon
at half past 1 o'clock.
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.
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 316.
WILLIAM B. UPTON.
William B. Upton has been connected with the construction cf cable
railways continuously for the past eight and a half years. Coming from
the city of cable railways, San Francisco, where be became familiar with
the system in use there, he was appointed assistant engineer of the
Grand Avenue Railway Company, of Kansas City, Mo. In the spring of 1886
he prepared the plans for this system, which embraced about twenty-one
miles. In the summer of 1889 he was appointed assistant engineer of the
Washington & Georgetown Railway Company, of Washington, D. C, and
prepared the plans for the 7th Street line of this company, six miles in
length. In the summer of the following year Mr. Upton went to Tacoma,
Wash., where he constructed about one mile of cable railway for the
Tacoma Railway & Motor Company. He returned to the Washington &
Georgetown Railway in the winter of 1890 and prepared all the plans for
this company's Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street lines, comprising
about fourteen miles of cable. He also designed and arranged the
machinery in the company's central power station. Since June 15, 1894,
Mr. Upton has been chief engineer of the Columbia Railway Company, of
Washington, D. C., and has had under construction for this company
about six miles of cable road, which will be completed early this year.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 317.
John Walker was born August 3, 1847, in the county of Yorkshire,
England. Upon coming to the United States about twenty-eight years ago
he settled in Philadelphia, and for a time was in the employ of William
Sellers & Company, where he invented his famous gear scale, for setting
out graphically the form of teeth for gear wheels. Subsequently Mr.
Walker was connected with William Wright & Company, of Newburgh, N. Y.;
then with Poole & Hunt, of Baltimore, and later with Nordyke & Marmon,
of Indianapolis. In 1882 he organized with J. B. Perkins, Gen. M. D.
Leggett, Hon. Geo. W. Gardner, H. T. Taylor, T. Kilpatrick and others,
the Walker Manufacturing Company.
Besides the differential rings mentioned, Mr. Walker has designed and
patented a large number of other inventions, the number of patents taken
out by him amounting two years ago to the number of sixty-two. Some time
ago Mr. Walker severed his connection with the Walker Manufacturing
Company, and is now connected with Fraser & Chalmers, of Chicago.
Three-time champ Albert E Ward rang the bell in a 1962 Rice-A-Roni commercial.
Gripman Albert E Ward, an ex-Army drummer, won the annual Bell Ringing
Contest at Union Square in 1957, 1958
Albert E Ward receives his 1957 bell ringing trophy from nightclub singer Genia
Stone in an undated newspaper clipping from a San Francisco newspaper (thank
you to Leslie Portillo-Ward for the clipping).
Albert E Ward gives a bell ringing lesson to Ice Follies skater
Irene Maguire, who had presented him with his "second National
Safety Council trophy."
in an undated newspaper clipping from a San Francisco newspaper
(thank you to Leslie Portillo-Ward for the clipping).
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.
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314.
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
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
From the May, 1895 Street Railway Journal, page 314-315.
FRED 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
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.
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.
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
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.
Many of the items on this page came from this article in the May,
1895 Street Railway Journal. The first cable car line, the
Clay Street Hill Railroad, actually
ran its first test on 02-August-1873.
ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF CABLE RAILWAYS.
BIOGRAPHIES OF SOME OF THE EARLY ENGINEERS.
The modern American system of cable railways has had an extensive
development in this country and has been introduced successfully in a
number of foreign cities. Much is due to the inventors and capitalists
who have so successfully adapted rope haulage to street railway traffic,
because they had very little previous experience to work from. There
was, it is true, some prior experience, but whether the early
experimenters in this country were aware of the previous experiments, we
are not informed. Doubtless the builders of the first cable railway in
San Francisco, in 1873, may lay claim to having originated the scheme,
so far as the successful operation of street railways by this means is
To Andrew S. Hallidie, of San Francisco, who is still a resident of
that city, belongs the credit of having devised and put into successful
operation the modern system of cable traction. Equal credit, however, is
due to the financial associates of Mr. Hallidie, Henry L. Davis, Joseph
Britton and James Moffit, these gentlemen having been the principal
subscribers to the subsidy by means of which the road was built. As
early as 1871 and 1872, Mr. Hallidie conceived the idea of a cable line
on Clay Street in San Francisco where the gradients were too severe (16
per cent. and over) to be worked by horse or steam power, and succeeded
in inducing capitalists to invest in the enterprise. On the morning of
August 1, 1873, the first trial trip was run over the line, and after
some experimenting the road was pronounced an unquestionable success and
became the pioneer of all similar schemes. Not, however, until two years
after was a second line begun. The success of this second line, which
was on Sutter Street, gave great impetus to the enterprise, and in ten
years six lines had been opened in San Francisco. The chief promoter of
this second line was Henry Casebolt, superintendent of the road, who
employed as a chief engineer Asa G. Hovey, who with Henry Root should be
classed among the pioneer cable engineers of the country.
Chicago was the second city to adopt a cable system, the first line
being opened in 1882. Philadelphia followed in 1883, and following these
dates other roads were opened in rapid succession, and at present 662
miles are in operation in this country. A considerable portion of cable
railway mileage has been changed to electric traction, notably roads in
Omaha, Denver, Sioux City, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, St. Louis and
Providence, R.I., in some cases because the traffic was not sufficient
to warrant cable power, in other cases to unify the method of operating
cars, not because of any particular inherent defects in the cable
system. It will not be necessary to dwell further on the development of
the cable roads in this country, the particulars being graphically
stated in the following biographies of the principal cable railway
engineers, in which will also be found some of the difficulties that
have had to be overcome in the development of the system in the
To those who are interested in the previous history of rope haulage,
we quote the following from Smith's book on cable or rope traction,
published in London in 1887, from which it will be seen that the mere
idea of hauling cars by means of a moving rope actuated from a
stationary source of power, is not a new one.
As early as 1812, Messrs. W. & E. Chapman proposed to employ a fixed
cable or chain upon roads or streets for the purpose of propelling cars
thereon, by winding or hauling upon it from the platforms of the cars;
and about 1824 a W. James enrolled a scheme at the United States Patent
Office for employing a traveling chain for the haulage of carriages upon
highways, the chain being operated within a tunnel or channel provided
in the rails. In 1829 an endless cable traction scheme was propounded by
M. Dick; and in 1838 W. J. Curtis applied for certain improvements in
rope haulage, and gave an interesting description of a car provided with
a cable gripping device that was essentially the same as the cable
gripping appliances of to-day.
The first suggestion for placing a constantly running cable within a
longitudinally slotted underground tube or channel was made by W.
Bradling in 1845. In 1858, E. S. Gardiner, of Philadelphia, invented a
conduit having a narrow slot through its whole length, similar to the
slotted track tubes proposed and used in atmospheric railways many years
before. Within this tube he proposed to mount a series of carrying
pulleys, upon which the cable should ride. It does not appear that he
ever put in practice his ingenious invention.
To Messrs. A. Smith and Newall is chiefly due the credit of having
first, as early as 1830 to 1833, successfully used cable haulage in
English collieries, where the cars were fitted with intermittent acting
grippers. Within and immediately following the above dates, wire ropes
were used on the Continent in the mines of Saxony, and later in some of
the Scottish mines. Not till 1840, however, do we find that cable
haulage was successfully employed for passenger traffic, and though
the plan had but little analogy to othe modern cable system, yet it is
interesting to glance at this old and ingenious scheme.
The road to which we refer was the original Blackwall Railway, which extended three and
three-quarters miles from the Minories to Blackwall, England. The gauge
of the track was five feet, and the line was constructed upon a series
of brickwork arches, and the shortest curve had a radius of 3,000 ft.
The first hauling rope employed was of hemp, about five and a half
inches in circumference. It was driven by being alternately wound up and
paid out by drums twenty-three feet in diameter. These drums were placed
at the termini, and when all the rope was coiled upon one drum the
engines were stopped and the rope was then set in motion in the reverse
direction. The line was in duplicate throughout, and the trains were
started simultaneously from each end.
The number of cars in a train varied from six to twenty-six, the
first class carriages being constructed to carry forty and the third
class seventy persons. Each car was provided with lever brakes, a
coupling and a rope gripping apparatus. There were six stations on the
system, and as the train arrived at the successive stations one or more
cars were released, the first car being carried over the whole line.
When the rope stopped, the cars at the various stations were
re-attached, and on the return trip the cars were separated by intervals
corresponding to the distance between the stations, and on reaching the
hauling machinery were in turn released from the rope. The carrying
pulleys were three feet in diameter and placed thirty-five feet apart.
The speed of the rope was from twenty-five to thirty miles an hour, and
the trains performed from fifty to fifty-eight journeys per day. Shortly
after the line was started the hemp rope was frequently broken by
excessive strain, and metallic cables were substituted.
During the year 1844 upwards of 2,500,000 passengers were carried
over the line. The line was operated until 1848, when locomotives were
substituted for the cable system. Little progress was made in the
development of the cable system from this time on to 1872. Various
schemes were proposed, among them one by Foster and Brown in the United
States, which employed an overhead endless rope for working street cars.
This plan was further developed in 1869 by G. F.
Beauregard, of New Orleans. C. F. Harvey, in 1866, proposed a plan
for placing collars or ferrules on an underground traveling rope, to
engage with gripping forks to be lowered from the cars, and subsequently
built a short line of elevated cable road
on Ninth Avenue, New York City.