End of the Line, 1955

We’re going to post photos from time to time that we think are iconic in one way or another. The Ocean Beach terminal of the N-line is an iconic place in general, at least to railfans, with that lonely loop and mission-style shelter hard by the sand dunes that form the last barrier to the Pacific (if you don’t count the public convenience station). (The city knew that most folks would reach the beach by streetcar back when Muni built its Sunset District lines, so there are matching bathrooms and tunnels under the Great Highway at Judah and Taraval.)

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Anyway, this shot, taken by the late Bob McVay we believe, has an extra sense of loneliness to it. We know it’s 1955 from the license plate on the Ford. Check out the Studebaker convertible on the right. Then there’s that weary looking building between the Studebaker and the streetcar that looks empty with the unconvincing writing above the door, “Public Library – Post Office – Store.” Sure.

As for the streetcars themselves, a “Big Ten” torpedo is in the distance at the loop, just seven years old but already converted to single-end, one-man operation. And the central object, “Iron Monster” No. 172, with a (now forbidden) ad for Early Times bourbon on the side, and a crew in the front window maybe thinking about a drink … but not at the ever-popular Dick’s at the Beach opposite the torpedo at La Playa. They’re switiching back short because they’re about to pull into Geneva, as indicated by their Hunter roll sign over the front window, “Market to 11th St.”

Anybody want to share other memories of the N-line terminal? Post a comment.

Comments: 2

  1. The Outer Sunset always seems so deserted (except on sunny weekend days). It’s like despite the streetcars, everyone drives everywhere. You rarely see pedestrians on the streets. There’s not a single one visible in this picture, so I guess it’s not a recent development either.

  2. My first “N” terminal memory goes back before I started visiting MuniLand. It was in the mid Sixties: Southern California traction fans were in a state of gloom because our last downtown trolley lines had quit in 1963. The only streetcars still running south of the Tehachapis were the fortunate few at what was then Orange Empire Trolley Museum, running on a few hundred feet of rickety track with overhead powered by a 150 KW diesel generator. For real every day operation, we had to make the pilgrimage to The City. Back then, I was financially challenged, so all I knew about Muni was second hand. Many of us would save up our discretionary funds so we could go on the Electric Ry. Historical Assn. of So. Cal’s annual Muni Fan Trip. One fan who rode the trip in 1965 or 66 reported “We had a photo stop at the end of the “N” line. I wanted an overhead view, so I climbed up to the balcony of an apartment house. [One of the residents] spotted me and says ‘Hey buddy, come on in and have a beer! I got the [football] game on [TV].’ I was tempted [especially by the beer] but I had to say ‘Thanks, but I have a streetcar to catch’ and hustle back downstairs.”
    By 1976, I finally had a truck that I could trust for a longer journey than out to Orange Empire, and drove up to the City. I chose the Mar (a.k.a Ocean View) Motel because it was right at the “N” terminal–real handy, I could just roll out of bed in the morning and start PCC-watching. One morning a car “went lame” and I got to watch the crew rig a tow bar and haul it away (they used another PCC, not Wrecker 0131).
    My most memorable “N” experience was the supposed last night of PCC operation in Sept. 1982. I had driven all night from Pasadena and arrived just as dawn was breaking over the Oakland Hills. I spent all day taking photos and movies, and when it finally got too dark for filming, went to a motel for a few hours rest. The clerk was rather puzzled when I asked for an 11 PM wakeup call, but did as requested. I went to Geneva and found that the last car scheduled into the barn was an “N” car (1123?). We were making the final outbound run at O-dark-30 AM when the operator commented that we were being followed by a chartered car with a load of fans who wanted to be on the VERY last PCC run. When we got to the 30th Ave. turnback track, our operator stopped, threw the switch, and took the car down the side street. He then turned out the lights and we waited. Along came the charter, which sailed right by. We waited about ten minutes, and there went the charter, heading back to the barn. NOW we went back onto the main line, down to the loop and back to Geneva, where the fans from the charter wondered, “Where did you guys come from?” Of course, we all know now that this was not the end of PCC’s in MuniLand, just a hiatus.
    Commenting on the “N” terminal being “too quiet”: there’s now a coffee house which seems to do a good business, drawing a lot of local traffic. Also, one morning during another stay at the Mar, I came down to catch an “N” and delayed the start of my trip because a fellow was practicing Blues on his old-timey guitar (one of my other interests–I like taking the “F” line to Lou’s Pier 47 Blues Club for some good sounds).

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