The Little Engine That Could!

State Belt Loco No. 2Next weekend (Saturday-Sunday, November 1-2) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’ll have the special opportunity to ride a streetcar built in the 1890s from our San Francisco Railway Museum up The Embarcadero to the Wharf area, as part of Muni Heritage Weekend.

When you do, you’ll be following the path of another important part of San Francisco’s rail heritage, the State Belt Railroad. The noted San Francisco author and historian Gary Kamiya has a great piece on recounting the history of this freight line. Well work a read.

The State Belt ran the entire length of The Embarcadero and then some, paralleling streetcar lines from Folsom to Broadway, with the most spectacular scenes to be seen right in front of the Ferry Building as the 1937 photo below shows. That’s a Muni E-line “dinky” just to the right at the north terminal, headed for the Presidio via North Beach and Russian Hill, and a Market Street Railway “White Front” car that will loop around Broadway to Kearny before running the length of Third Street to the County Line in Visitacion Valley.

State Belt E 16 at Ferry Bldg c1937 copySo as you enjoy today’s Embarcadero, remember the days when steam and smoke were common sights and sounds on our waterfront.


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