San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

No. 11 - 1890s Sacramento-Clay Red - Market Street Railway
No. 11

Market Street Railway Co., 1893-1902/Sacramento-Clay

Built 1893 by Carter Bros.; Rebuilt by Muni 1980

This is one of the original 1893 cable cars built in the East Bay by Carter Brothers. It wears the red livery of the line where it first ran, from the Ferry to Golden Gate Park via Sacramento and Clay Streets.

This was among the cable cars built to allow service on the Sacramento-Clay line to be extended west to serve the 1894 Mid-Winter Fair in Golden Gate Park. Its owner, the third company to have “Market Street Railway” as part of its name, had acquired the Powell and Sacramento Street cable lines from their builder, the Ferries & Cliff House Railway, which opened lines in 1888 that ran from the company’s Washington-Mason powerhouse and carbarn. These included the Powell-Mason and the Powell-Jackson (later called Washington-Jackson), which started at Powell and Market and then ran east-west on Washington and Jackson Streets to reach Pacific Heights. (The Powell-Hyde line was not created until 1957 as part of a consolidation and reduction in cable car service.)

The Market Street Railway Company of 1893 dedicated a specific fleet of color-coded cars to each line. For example, among its Market Street cable car lines, the cars that continued out Haight Street were painted red, Hayes Street green, Valencia Street blue, and Castro Street white. The Powell-Mason cable cars were painted yellow with red trim. For the cable car lines mentioned above, Powell-Mason cars were painted yellow (represented on today’s Car 15); Washington-Jackson cars were painted green, and the Sacramento-Clay cars were painted red.

When United Railroads took over the Powell Street cable lines in 1902, they initially left the cable cars in their line-by-line different colored liveries, simply painting “United Railroads” on the side owner’s panels. By April 1906, many — but not all — cable cars had been repainted. The calamitous earthquake and fire of that month destroyed all the cable cars housed at Washington & Mason, but many purchased for the Sacramento-Clay line in 1893 were housed to the west, survived, and were reassigned to Powell Street service. (United Railroads then rebuilt cable cars from Market Street, which switched to electric streetcars after the earthquake and fire, to replace the Carter Brothers cars on the Sacramento-Clay line. One such car has been restored by Muni for service on special occasions: “Big 19”.)

Besides Car 11, there are five other original Sacramento-Clay cars that retain a substantial portion of their historic fabric and are still in service today. They are Cars 2, 5, 7, 10, and 20. If you board any of these cable cars, you’re riding extra history!

Powell Street Cable Car Specifications

Number of Cars
28 on roster (Maximum of 19 in service at one time)

60 (29 seated + 31 standing)

15,500 lb (7,030 kg)

27′ 6″ (8.4 m)

10′ 5″ (3.2 m)

8′ 0″ (2.4 m)

Track Gauge
3′ 6″ (1.07 m)

Round Trip Route Length
Powell-Mason line: 3.2 mi (5.15 km)
Powell-Hyde line: 4.3 mi (6.92 km)

Cable Speed
9.5 mph (15.3 km/h)

Cable Lengths
Powell: 9,300 ft (2,835 m)
Mason: 10,300 ft (3,140 m)
Hyde: 16,000 ft (4875 m)

Cable Motive Power
510-horsepower electric motor driving four cable winders at powerhouse

Powerhouse and Carbarn
Washington and Mason Streets

Built 1887 by Ferries & Cliff House Railway

Rebuilt 1906 by United Railroads

Rebuilt 1982-84 by San Francisco Municipal Railway

Steepest Grades on Powell Lines
Powell: 17% between Bush & Pine
Mason: 17% between Union & Green
Hyde: 21% between Bay & Chestnut