1914 Muni Car 162, which seemed on the cusp of returning to service after accident repairs that took more than four years, is starting a new round of repairs — this time on the trucks underneath the car.
Friday morning (October 19), the irreplaceable Muni original, was trucked from Muni Metro East in Dogpatch across town to the heavy overhaul shops at Green Division, next to Balboa Park BART. It’s shown above squeezing past a tree into the Green Division yard, and below in the shop. (Thanks to Barry Chown on our Facebook group for the lower shot.)
The car had returned home on April 23 following repairs from a 2014 accident. The repair work, which only included the body, were beautifully performed by CG, Inc. of Long Beach, but the car was improperly lifted by its trucks (wheel sets) for the return trip and the bottom connecting bars of the trucks were bent. (The October 19 cross-town moved used a roll-on, roll-off trailer, so it didn’t need to be lifted.
Though the bent members of the trucks were successfully straightened, the very detailed inspection of the trucks that accompanied the repair convinced Muni that it is necessary to completely rebuild the 104-year old trucks. That job is starting now, and will be performed in-house.
Market Street Railway is extremely disappointed with the way the streetcar was handled on its return trip from the vendor. Muni has committed to expedite the truck rebuilding and to do a thorough job. The project will be an early challenge for Muni’s new acting head of rail maintenance, Randy Catanach, who recently took over from Lee Summerlott, who retired.
We haven’t been given an estimated date for the completion of the work, but we will let you know. We look forward to getting this truly historic streetcar, which started its Muni career on long-gone rail lines like the B-Geary and F-Stockton, back on the street carrying a new generation of passengers on the E-Embarcadero and F-Market.
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Rolling through Ames, Iowa today on the back of a trailer, one of our watchful members, Mike Joynt, spotted newly rebuilt PCC 1061, painted to honor Pacific Electric, on its way back to San Francisco following rebuilding by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania. Mike wasn’t able to snap a photo, but here’s one of the car body emerging from Brookville’s paint shop a couple of months ago before its regular trucks were installed and the finishing touches applied. (Thanks to Jack Demnyan for the photo.)
Pacific Electric was the mighty Southern California interurban and electric freight railway involved with the even mightier Southern Pacific Railroad. P-E even painted its small fleet of double-end PCCs to evoke S-P’s red and orange “Daylight” passenger trainsets. The restored 1061 has a more accurate orange — Daylight Orange, actually — that provides more contrast with the red than the color did on the original restoration, performed in the early 1990s. That extra contrast led one member, who saw this photo in Inside Track, to complain that the paint scheme is “wrong” because there’s “too much orange” above the windows. In fact, the paint design is identical to what has been on the car since the early 1990s. The relative lack of contrast between the body red and the trim red-orange meant that this member didn’t notice anything “wrong” for 25 years. You can see the original this great shot by Rich Panse.
In fairness, this paint scheme in particular is tough to replicate because P-E’s PCCs were unique, double-ended with front and center doors and no standee windows. The side windows were much taller instead, leaving little room between the top of the windows and the main roof as shown below.
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As you can see on our recap at the top of the main page, Muni Heritage Weekend was a real humdinger. What was especially great was the large number of families that came out to enjoy the vintage vehicles. SFMTA had some specific events to attract kids including cable car bell ringing practice with 10-time champion Carl Payne, design your own streetcar, and more.
But the vehicles themselves are what the families loved. Here are some photos that show it.
Thanks to everyone involved with this year’s Muni Heritage Weekend. We’ll have a list later, but for now, special thanks to the team that remade our website to bring the action to you: Jeremy Whiteman for the live webcam, which will become a permanent part of streetcar.org, Chris Arvin and Kat Siegal, who designed the new material as the first step of their improvements to our website, and the photographers who posted their shots on Instagram and on our website: SFMTA photographer Jeremy Menzies, plus volunteers Jeff Bennett, Jack Demnyan, Adolfo Echeverry, Katie Haverkamp, Steve Sousa, and Jeremy Whiteman. Thanks to all!No Comments on What a Weekend!
From 1891 to 1954, double-end cable cars, almost identical to those on California Street, rambled from Market & O’Farrell streets through Union Square, the Tenderloin, and over Nob and Russian Hills to reach Hyde and Beach Streets near Aquatic Park. The City killed the inner part of that line and combined the outer part with one of the Powell Street cable lines to create the Powell-Hyde line in 1957.
Now as a special event for San Francisco history buffs and cable car fans, the last unaltered O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car will carry passengers down Hyde Street Saturday and Sunday mornings, September 8-9. It’s the first time the car has been in regular passenger service on Hyde Street in 64 years. Expert grip (and MSR Member) Val Lupiz will be at the controls. Val supplied the vintage photo above, taken at Chestnut and Hyde, probably in the early 1950s. The modern matching shot was taken on a VIP run by Frank Zepeda.
The special car, reacquired by Market Street Railway and restored by expert volunteers and Muni pros, will operate as follows as part of Muni Heritage Weekend:
This opportunity may not come around again. What a perfect way to start Heritage Weekend!No Comments on Ride Hyde the Way it Used to Be!
Because of unforeseen events, Muni Heritage Weekend events will start later and finish later on September 8-9 this year. But there are still going to be very special happenings for transportation fans of all ages.
A climate change protest will close Market Street late morning of Saturday, September 8 and a footrace sponsored by the Giants will close traffic lanes on The Embarcadero Sunday morning. Both these events were scheduled after our dates were locked down and there’s really nothing we can do about it.
At the epicenter of Muni Heritage Weekend, our San Francisco Railway Museum, events will get underway Saturday at 12 Noon with a cable car bell-ringing demonstration by all-time champ Carl Payne. Carl will also offer instruction to kids of all ages, who can take a turn on the bell of motorized cable car 62 (the first motorized cable car ever created, by the way), which will be on display in the plaza across the F-line tracks from our museum.
At 1 pm, or possibly slightly earlier, vintage streetcars and buses will begin carrying passengers.
The following streetcars will offer free rides all afternoon between our Museum and Pier 39, along The Embarcadero (last runs of the day leave the museum at 5 pm):
The following vintage buses will offer FREE rides all afternoon (last runs of the day leave the museum at 5 pm):
Trolley coaches – operating on the old 20-line via Columbus Ave. to Washington Square:
Motor coaches – operating to Levi’s Plaza via part of the 82x-line:
There will be kids’ activities both afternoons on the plaza across from the museum and a special sale of memorabilia at our San Francisco Railway Museum. It’s a great time to pick up your 2019 Museums in Motion calendar and other great items. Remember, MSR Members get 10% off all merchandise. Also, Heritage weekend only, SFMTA employees get 10% off all merchandise if they show their badge.
On the cable car front, we are finalizing some very special plans for O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42, which we reacquired for Muni and cosmetically restored. We’ll announce those plans separately on our website, www.streetcar.org, but beyond those, Car 42 will be offering regular service on the California Street cable car line in the afternoons, both Saturday and Sunday.
Also, both days at 5 pm, I will be giving my talk, “Coming to Town” about the ways across the Bay from 1875 to today, at our museum. This accompanies the new exhibit of that name that has just opened, and features some rare historic photos.
We hope you can join us for Heritage Weekend this year.No Comments on Heritage Weekend Has Later Start Time This Year
Yep, you read that right. Before Market Street had electric streetcars, cable cars, or horse-powered streetcars, it had a STEAM-powered streetcar. In fact, this was the first rail transit on Market Street, started up in 1860.
This photo, which we had not seen before, just surfaced on a Facebook group, without a source reference. It shows Market Street during the Civil War (the date given is 1864, and that seems at least very close). We’re looking west, toward Twin Peaks. The downtown hadn’t been built out that far in 1864; you can see the empty lands and sand hills in the distance. We’re in between the numbered streets on the south side, so that intersection on the north side is most likely O’Farrell and Dupont (later Grant Avenue — its namesake was still earning his right to have an SF street named after him at this time).
Note the giant American flag, reminding one and all that California was a Union state. Also note the boardwalks for pedestrians, the streetamps that probably used kerosene (piped gas was still in the future, along with electricity), and the lack of traffic.
And, wait, wait, in the distance, that rectangular object in the middle of the street is — a streetcar powered by steam.
It and three others belonged to the Market Street Railroad, first of several companies to incorporate the city’s main street into its name. They carried both passengers and baggage. The line opened on July 4, 1860, operating from Third and Market Streets to 16thand Valencia Streets. This was an unusual application of steam power, and expensive to operate. It was extended eastward to the foot of Market and south on Valencia to 26thStreet, but proved a financial failure, forcing conversion to horsecar operation in 1867. Yet this first line demonstrated the importance of fixed-route transit in developing neighborhoods.
As it turned out, steam-powered transit got a second life on Market from 1880-1888, when a steam dummy and trailer covered the western end of the street from Valencia to Castro, until cable car service was extended. More conventional steam passenger trains carried people from the geographic center of the city to the Cliff House and Ocean Beach later on.
Here’s a closer-up photo of the first steam-powered streetcar, taken near the opening in 1860. It’s the only one we knew to exist, until now.
We don’t have a steam train to ride on Muni Heritage Weekend, September 8 and 9, but there’ll be some great electric streetcars, cable cars, and buses. Come to our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street, between 11 am and 5 pm (new times–we’ll explain shortly).No Comments on Steam Streetcar on Market Street, 1864
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. A couple of months ago, we got a call asking whether we recognized the location of a film. We did — Pacific Avenue. We had never seen motion pictures of that line, which closed in 1929. Now, the video has been posted on YouTube, with additional information on the provenance of the film.
It was professionally shot, with sound, by a Movietone Newsreel crew, which spent several days filming the line between Larkin and Divisadero, including the closing parade in November 1929. This was the last line still operating grip and trailer cars, and the crew was particularly intrigued by how they reversed direction at the end of the line. We were too. Amazing to watch the ballet between the gripman and conductor as they swap the dummy and trailer to reverse direction. No layover, either!
The Pacific Avenue cable line was a real artifact. The Sutter Street Railroad ran several lines. This one, built in 1890-91 in an unusual wide (5-foot) gauge, ran up Ninth Street and Larkin to Pacific Avenue, then westward to Divisadero Street. After the 1906 earthquake, most of the line was converted to electric streetcar operation. But the Pacific Avenue portion was still cable operated, in part because of the grades, and in part because of the affluent neighborhood’s objections to “unsightly” overhead wires. United Railroads took over the line in 1902, then it passed to our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, in 1921. It was a big money loser for them, since it ran mostly along residential blocks and didn’t serve any real shopping or employment destinations. Besides, for much of its length, the 3-Jackson streetcar, which went straight downtown, ran parallel and just a block south. Market Street Railway finally won the right to abandon it and the farewell party is captured here.
The No. 46 grip car and No. 54 trailer car from this line are on display at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. Joe Thompson’s Cable Car Guy website has the full history of this line, written by the incomparable Emiliano Echeverria and the late Walter Rice.
Some great scenes here. Love the two Pacific Heights matrons playing railfan, changing their seats to stay up front when the grip car reversed. The parade is priceless.
As always, we at Market Street Railway welcome your support in helping us preserve historic transit in San Francisco.No Comments on Incredible Film: Cable Cars on Pacific Ave., 1929
Lots of buzz about the new $2.1 Salesforce Transit Center holding its grand opening Saturday, August 11. For example, this story in the Examiner, worth a read for the historic context. Or this one, about the incredible park atop the terminal. Or this one, about the loonnng delay in getting train service (commuter and high-speed to LA) into the terminal in the afternoon.
But in this post, we’re inviting everyone to the new center’s bus deck at 1 pm on Saturday, August 11 to hear a presentation by Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher called “Coming to Town: Gateway to San Francisco, 1875-Today.” Rick will talk about the way San Francisco welcomed commuters and visitors entering the city from the East, from the years just after the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, to the dedication of the shiny new center that very day, including two-and-a-half Ferry Buildings and the original Transbay Terminal, hosting three different railroads that crossed the Bay Bridge when it was new.
Rick will be presenting next to a vintage Muni bus (you’ll have to show up to see which one), and will illustrate the talk with some rare photographs.
Some of those rare photographs are part of the new exhibit of the same name — Coming to Town — that opens at our San Francisco Railway Museum that same day, Saturday, August 12. It’s quite a story.
The photo at the top, for example, from the John Bromley Collection of our Market Street Railway Archive, shows trains in the then-new Transbay Terminal in 1939 or 1940. That train in the center is from the Sacramento Northern Railroad, and ran along much of what is now BART’s right-of-way through Contra Costa County, then crossed Suisun Bay on a ferry and continued to Sacramento, with some trains going as far as Chico!
And to bring things up to date, the photo below, taken just last week, shows a brand new diesel bus on the 7-Haight-Noriega with SF Transit Center as its destination (SF standing for Salesforce, not San Francisco in this case — Muni buses have been using the ground level bus stops there for a month now). But looky looky next to it: a 1928 Milan tram incorrectly signed for “Transbay Terminal” as its destination. (The F-line streetcars used the old tracks to the old terminal from 1995 until 2000, when the extension to Fisherman’s Wharf opened.) Nice catch by the photographer.
We also want to give a shout out to Jeremy Menzies’ “Tales of the Old Transbay Terminal” on Muni’s blog. Some great photos from the archives of the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista Junction, which occupies the old Sacramento Northern right-of-way through the area and has preserved an interurban car identical to the one pictured above.
So, on Saturday, August 11, come by First and Mission Streets at 1 pm to see Rick Laubscher’s talk on the bus deck, then tour the fabulous new center during its open house, which includes the one-time-only opportunity to walk along the bus-only ramp connecting the center to the Bay Bridge. Here are all the details on the open house.
Then, at any point in the next six months or so, come to the San Francisco Railway Museum to see the new “Coming to Town” exhibit.No Comments on “Coming to Town” Talk to Help Open Salesforce Transit Center August 11
August 2, 1873 — In the wee small hours of a misty San Francisco night (they didn’t call the month “Fogust” back then, but it was), a new type of transit was about to be inaugurated. An endless wire rope clattered beneath Clay Street. An odd open vehicle sat on the rails at the top of the hill. Standing by was Andrew Smith Hallidie, a Scot who had experience using wire rope in the mining business, and was part of the team promoting this new technology, aimed at making horsecars obsolete.
The operator of the little car peered out over the edge of the steep hill and decided, “No.” As the story goes, Hallidie himself stepped up, gripped the wire rope, went down the hill safely, and the cable car was born.
Some historians argue over the details of that opening run, but we’re not going to get into that here. We’ll just say that the first line, on Clay Street, became part of a longer line in the late 1880s that ran one way on Clay and the other on Sacramento Street. At that point, it began being served by new single-end cable cars without the trailers you see in this engraving from Wikimedia Commons.
On April 18, 1906, earthquake and fire wiped out identical cable cars that served Powell Street, so the cars from the Sacramento-Clay line were moved to Powell, where many still run to this day. Larger double-end cable cars took over on the Sacramento-Clay line and lasted until 1942 when the line was shut. One of the last group of Sacramento-Clay cable cars (Car 19, built in 1907) has been restored, thanks in part to advocacy from Market Street Railway, and is stored upstairs in the cable car barn at Washington and Mason Streets. Downstairs, in the Cable Car Museum, the last surviving original car from the Clay Street Hill Railroad, Grip Car 8, is on display.
While you haven’t been able to ride a cable car on Clay Street for 76 years, you can still ride cable cars that ran on Clay Street back in the 1890s. Current Powell cable car 11 (above), built in 1893 by Carter Brothers and recently refurbished by Muni’s shops, ran on the Sacramento-Clay line until 1906, and was recently repainted into its original Sacramento-Clay livery from the 1890s at Market Street Railway’s suggestion.
The other surviving Powell cable cars that once ran on Clay Street include numbers 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27. (Thanks to Joe Thompson’s Cable-Car-Guy website for the authoritative roster.) If you climb aboard any of these cars on the Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason lines today, you’re experiencing a connection back to the first street on which cable cars ever ran.
Happy 145th Anniversary of the first successful cable car system!No Comments on Happy 145th Anniversary, Cable Cars!
That’s the title of a great piece by Justin Franz on the Trains Magazine website today. Click the link and read it. It really says everything that needs to be said about the history and popularity of San Francisco’s vintage streetcar operation. Thanks, Justin, for the story, and thanks, Muni, for the dedicated people who run and maintain these treasures.
Just to be clear, the headline on Justin’s piece refers to the streetcars themselves, what we call the “Museums in Motion”. As he writes, “MUNI’s streetcars look like museum pieces, but don’t think for a second think they’re static.” That’s exactly why we’ve worked so hard in our advocacy for the past 35 years: restore streetcars to their “natural habitat” — the STREET — where today’s riders can feel the rumble, hear the squeals, experience what generations past experienced — in the same type of streetcar, on the same street. We appreciate the recognition.
A reminder that we totally depend on donations and memberships from people who love the “Museums in Motion” like we do. We receive no government money at all. Your donations and memberships make it possible to continue the successful advocacy that created San Francisco’s vintage streetcar lines in the first place, and keeps them on track today. Please consider supporting us. (You can donate as little as $5, less cost than one round-trip on the streetcars.)
For those who clicked through to our website from the link in the article, a reminder that Muni Heritage Weekend will feature special appearances by streetcars, buses, and a cable car that are only rarely (if at all) in the daily service Justin describes. Heritage Weekend is September 8 and 9 this year, centered at our San Francisco Railway Museum near the Ferry Building, which also functions as an interpretive center for the “Museums in Motion”. We’ll have more about Muni Heritage Weekend on this site in a few days.No Comments on “The Greatest Streetcar Museum in America”