ex-Muni PCC streetcars in St. Charles, Missouri. Scott Tiek photo.
The odd story of the Lost Streetcars of San Francisco has taken another very odd — and unfortunate — turn.
Here’s how the odyssey begins: During the 1980s, after Muni began selling off some of its old PCC streetcars to make way for more modern Boeing LRVs, a gentleman in South Lake Tahoe purchased 18 of the cars with an eye toward someday establishing PCC service in the Lake Tahoe area.
No. 1127 in Tahoe (2006). Telstar Logistics photo.
That was his goal, but alas, it never happened. Instead, the fleet of ex-San Francisco PCCs spent two decades languishing incongruously in the snow, hundreds of miles from the Bay Area.
Fast-forward to 2007: Nine of the Tahoe PCCs (including former Muni cars No. 1113, 1127, 1139, 1145, 1148, and 1169) were sold to Whittaker Builders Inc., a real estate developer that planned to convert them into bookstores, coffee shops, and sushi bars
in a large housing development under construction in St. Charles,
Missouri. If funds were available, a few of the PCCs would also be used
to create a local streetcar line.
A San Francisco PCC arrives in New Town (2007) Whittaker Homes.
That never happened either. Instead, Whittaker Builders got caught up in the housing bust and filed for bankruptcy in October 2009. So what became of San Francisco’s former PCC streetcars?
They are now wasting away in a an open field near St. Louis:
No. 1127 again, now stranded in Missouri (2010) by Scott Tiek
“Two years later and they are still sitting here rotting away. The
problem seems to be coming up with the estimated $26 million in start
up cost it would take to get the line running. Whittaker spent $243,000
buying & transporting the 9 cars from a seller in South Lake Tahoe,
California. They were hoping the city could help pay for a portion of
the rail development with federal funds. Alas Whittaker Builders filed
Chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 15, 2009 so I am sure this project is dead
Obviously, the fate of these ex-Muni PCCs is unknown, and they’re now even farther away from home than before. Yet at this rate — after their meandering journey through Lake Tahoe and Missouri — it wouldn’t be all that surprising to hear they’re headed to the moon next.
No. 1113 a long way from home (2010). by Scott Tiek
2012 UPDATE: Sadly, these streetcars were scrapped following a fire and the bankruptcy of the developer who owned them.