Boat Made Shipshape

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Left to right: Craig Walker, Nick Figone, Alison Cant, and Bill Smalley put the finishing touches on their deep clean of the Blackpool Boat Tram in the shadow of the US Mint. Rick Laubscher photo.

Market Street Railway volunteers ‘deep-cleaned’ the 1934 Blackpool, England ‘Boat Tram‘ at our Pharr Division facility on May 18. In true nautical tradition, they polished the brasswork and chrome, replaced the worn flags, and completely cleaned hard to reach places inside the tram as well as the exterior.
Kudos to our volunteers: Alison Cant, Nick Figone, Bob Fox, Peter Lauterborn, Don McKinsey, Bill Smalley, Craig Walker, Bill Wong, and Don Zwicker, with special thanks to Muni’s Karl Johnson for operating No. 228 from Geneva to Duboce and back.
Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Market Street Railway, or send and email inquiry to our volunteer coordinator, Nick Figone, at nfigone@streetcar.org.

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More Milan Color Coming

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Steve Ferrario photo.

We’ve confirmed that another two-tone green Milan tram is headed for the streets of San Francisco. Muni has agreed to repaint Milan tram No. 1888, out of service since a 2003 accident, from its current transit orange to the two-tone green Milan livery used from the 1930s to the 1970s. It becomes the second green Milan tram, joining No. 1818, repainted in 2007. No date set for completion of repairs on No. 1888; it’ll probably be early 2009. Many thanks to Muni’s great streetcar shops for adding more color to the Milan fleet.

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Back In Business!

On a blustery April Saturday, Muni ‘Iron Monster’ streetcar No. 162 carried a full load of passengers for the first time in 50 years. The beautifully restored 1914 streetcar began its second life on the streets of San Francisco April 19, 2008.

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Streetcar No. 162 heads inbound on Ulloa Street on the L-line, having just turned from 15th Avenue. West Portal is two blocks away. Fifty years ago, it would have headed into the Twin Peaks Tunnel to reach Market Street. This time, it was headed for the K-line as part of its inaugural charter on April 19. Kevin Sheridan photo.

Its chartered tour of original Muni lines west of Twin Peaks carried Market Street Railway members who contributed money and effort to bring the car home.

The tour of the K, L, and M lines was Market Street Railway’s way of thanking the major donors who collectively raised $70,000 to enable Muni to buy back No. 162 from Orange Empire Railway Museum in Riverside County, which had acquired it in 1958, following its initial retirement from Muni. Because the museum had a second Muni car (No. 171), little attention was paid to No. 162 during its 45-year stay there, but the dry high desert conditions helped preserve it.

Upon its return to San Francisco in July 2003, Market Street Railway volunteers immediately began the most critical restoration task, repairing and recanvassing No. 162’s roof. Then they began work on its platforms and interior. On September 12, 2004, the venerable car was towed to Muni’s Green Division by 1917 motor flat No. C-1 (itself restored by Market Street Railway volunteers) to continue its rehabilitation by Muni craftsworkers.

Just a few months after it had arrived at Market Street Railway’s restoration facility at Duboce & Market, No. 162 stood sentinel over a memorial service for its first project manager, Dave Pharr, the Market Street Railway Director and restoration leader who had strongly advocated its return. The restoration facility is now named for Dave. Leadership of the restoration project was picked up by Jack Smith, Market Street Railway Director Emeritus and a retired, legendary Muni streetcar motorman. Stunningly, just a week after Jack rode No. 162 out to Muni that September Sunday in 2004, he too passed away suddenly.

At the inaugural charter run on April 19, Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher paid tribute to the work of Dave and Jack in helping restore No. 162, along with other volunteers including Arnold Chasinov, Matt Cheng, Chris & Darringer, Vince Fabris, Rhonda Farrell, Steve Ferrario, Mike Frew, Eddy Hansen, Richard Henderson, Jonathan Lammers, Peter McGowan, Don McKinsey, Bob Minkoff, Chris O’Neill, Royce Ong, Bill Wong, Nicholas Yee, and Frank Zepeda, as well as the late Fred Bennett and the late Phil Hollenbeck, who also donated to the restoration. Also remembered was the late Loring Jensen, a major donor to the reacquisition of No. 162.

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Father Tim O’Donovan breaks a bottle of bubbly with MSR President Rick Laubscher. Peter Ehrlich photo.

To celebrate the streetcar’s completion, one of the major donors to the car acquisition fund, Father Tim O’Donovan, who had flown in from Sandpoint, Idaho, joined Rick Laubscher in breaking a bottle of bubbly on the car’s anticlimber. Immediately following that splash, a red ribbon in the doorway was cut by Jerry Graham and Don Holmgren—board members of the Friends of the Cable Car Museum, which provided the largest overall donation—and by Market Street Railway Director Mike Frew, the largest individual donor and a major contributor of volunteer time as well.

Breezy ride

Then it was off on a sunny but unseasonably chilly jaunt. The hardier riders braved the bone numbing front platform, while others rode in relative comfort in the center section with the bulkhead doors firmly shut. It was an excellent history lesson: reminding everyone why the originally open end sections of early Muni streetcars were glazed just a few years after their arrival, and also why most San Franciscans of the 1950s were only too happy to exchange these drafty Iron Monsters for modern enclosed PCC streetcars.

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Rick Laubscher photo.

The charter ran out the M-line through Ocean View, past San Francisco State and Stonestown and through Lakeside Village to West Portal, where No. 162 switched to the L-line straight out to Ocean Beach, ignoring the ‘new’ Zoo loop (built in the 1930s) for the stub terminal at 48th & Taraval, the only remaining section of original Muni track in the system. The sight of the 1914 streetcar on 1923 track lined with Belgian block warmed wind-whipped hearts. The breeze off the ocean was strong enough that several charter riders who had come all the way from Chicago for the event were accused of bringing the Windy City with them.

In fact, as the car was reversed at the L-line beach stub, word came over the radio that the wind had blown a tree onto the J-line overhead wires, shutting that line down. This truncated the charter, which after returning to West Portal on the L and running through the Ingleside on the K, could only go to Glen Park on the J instead of continuing downtown to Duboce, as planned. Nonetheless, everyone on the inaugural charter were delighted with their ride on ths marvelous machine, which performed perfectly throughout. Not so lucky were the US and San Francisco flags placed on the four corners of the car by Market Street Railway Director Emeritus Art Michel. Overhanging bushes on the M-line right-of-way sheared off three of the four.

Going into passenger service in August

Following the charter, the car was returned to the Muni shops for some final touch-ups and adjustments in anticipation of its public debut in conjunction with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) rail conference in San Francisco at the beginning of June. The car was displayed at the APTA rail rodeo, which took place at Muni’s new Metro East facility off Third Street, and was used for charters by APTA members. It is scheduled to enter regular service on the F-line in August following a formal dedication. It will no doubt delight visitors and residents, young and old alike, as it commences its second life in San Francisco.

Market Street Railway again thanks all those who donated to reacquire the car, the volunteers who began restoration work, the great craftsworkers under the leadership of John Sadorra at Muni who completed the restoration, and the leadership of the Municipal Transportation Agency, led by Executive Director/CEO Nat Ford, for their commitment to bringing No. 162 back into service.
» About Muni Streetcar No. 162
» Streetcar No. 162: Tested Tough!

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‘Take Me Out’…At Our Museum

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To every American today, ‘car’ means automobile. Once, though, ‘car’ meant streetcar to most urban Americans. For almost a century in San Francisco, the ‘family car’ ran on rails, not just for commuting or shopping, but for any trip that stretched farther than a few blocks from home. Riding the rails around town wasn’t just a way to get there; it was an enjoyable escape.

Market Street Railway, in collaboration with Muni and the San Francisco Public Library, celebrates the days when the streetcar was just the ticket to experience art, athletics, and the outdoors–a ride to freedom and fun for a nickel–in a new exhibit at the San Francisco Railway Museum entitled Take Me Out.

The exhibit features vintage photos and artifacts of bygone San Francisco destinations served by streetcar, such as Playland, Seals Stadium, Sutro Baths, Fleishhacker Pool, the Fox Theater, and more. An accompanying video mixes vintage motion picture film of San Francisco at the height of its streetcar era with remembrances of men and women who rode the cars to attractions all over town.

The exhibit will run into 2009 at the San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building. The Museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10am to 6pm. It’s our intention to update the exhibit with new artifacts as they are made available to us, so if you have memorabilia from any of the locations listed above, or other bygone San Francisco venues that you’re willing to loan us, please call John Hogan at the museum, (415) 974-1948 or email John at jhogan@streetcar.org.

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SFGate Video of Cable Car No. 25

On May 29, 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle published a wonderful video of cable car No. 25’s return to service in its striking new 1906 United Railroads livery, proposed and designed by Market Street Railway. Let us know what you think of No. 25’s new livery in the comments below. Link: 118-year-old cable car No. 25 returns to service.

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How the F-Market & Wharves Line Came to Be

June 27, 1983, then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein had just finished running car No. 1 from Castro to the Transbay Terminal, officially opening the first San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival. The Mayor is pictured with Muni’s Reno Bini, Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gordon Swanson and Festival Project Manager Rick Laubscher. If you’re of a certain age, it was like a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movie. Or, if you’re of a certain younger age, it was like Disney’s High School Musical.… — Read More

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Muni Workers Pose with No. 162

Rick Laubscher photo. Muni craftworkers pose in front of their handiwork, restored car No. 162, at Geneva Division on May 7, 2008. They were honored at a lunch sponsored by Muni and Market Street Railway, and attended by Muni Executive Director Nat Ford and MTA Board member Cam Beach, along with other Muni officials, MSR President Rick Laubscher, and Directors Steve Ferrario and George Pleasant. The restoration process was lengthy, given other demands faced by the crew, most of whom… — Read More

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Loss of a Friend

A stalwart supporter of historic transit has passed away. Enid Lim, a dedicated advocate for San Franciscans of Chinese ancestry, died February 27, 2008 at the age of 76. Among many other accomplishments, she served on the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board and as the first vice president of the Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors (which governs Muni) from 2000 to 2003. Ms. Lim, also an advocate for disabled rights, was a strong supporter of Muni’s historic streetcar operations, delighting… — Read More

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Vintage Streetcar Artist

Carole Gilbert with 1940s-era PCCs at Muni’s Geneva Division. Telstar Logistics photo. Sometimes a job is just a job, and sometimes a job has the practical effect of making life a little more pleasant for everyone else. Cops and firefighters are often lauded for this, but Telstar Logistics recently had the opportunity to meet a few of San Francisco’s most under-celebrated civil servants: Carole Gilbert and the paint crew at Muni’s Geneva Division. Why give a shout-out to a bunch… — Read More

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New Volunteers Needed!

Fisherman’s Wharf poster Hello San Francisco transit fans. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our Fisherman’s Wharf by Milan Tram poster could serve as my introduction to you. I cracked crab at Tarantino’s restaurant for three summers during high school, and had a front row seat for the opening of the F-Line wharf extension and its beautiful streetcars. Facing Jefferson Street from the crab stand, I could not avoid the streaks of color flashing in front of… — Read More

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STRIKE!

Just as 2006 marked the centennial of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, 2007 marks the 100th anniversary of another kind of cataclysm in the city–one of its bitterest strikes that shaped the future of streetcar service in San Francisco. Off-duty strikebreakers lounge in their quarters in the upstairs car storage area at the 29th & Mission car barn. Note the cots on the obsolete Haight Street cable cars (unused since the great earthquake and fire of April 18,… — Read More

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A Salute to F-line Spirit

I would like to salute the people who make the F-Line the fun line–the Muni operators! When passengers board and an operator greets them with a smile and a cheerful “Good Morning!,” a fun experience begins. After they have paid their fare and, if necessary, engaged in asking a question, they walk to the back of the car with a big smile. Even if the car is crowded, the goodwill given out by the operator carries over to everyone as… — Read More

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The Market Street Railway Blog

Welcome to the Market Street Railway Blog. This is where we post all new feature stories and news items about the F-line, the cable cars, Muni, and Market Street Railway. We’ll also be sharing links to other historic transit-related sites and stories that might be of interest to MSR members and guests. Special thanks to Market Street Railway director Jamison Wieser for doing all of the behind-the-scenes coding and setting us up on the Movable Type system that powers the… — Read More

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