Memorial Day Tradition: Streetcar to the Cemeteries

Memorial Day has always been a time to honor the departed. For many decades in San Francisco, thousands of people paid their respects by streetcar. From 1902 until 1949, the 40-line ran out Mission Street and continued south all the way to San Mateo, passing the cemeteries of Colma along the way. So many riders would head for the cemeteries on Memorial Day that extra streetcars would be added, many of them running on an extended version of the 14-Mission line or (like the streetcar pictured around 1940 in Colma) a shortened version of the 40-line.
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Some of the track in the center median along this part of the route survived until just a few years ago. And of course the cemeteries remain the dominant presence in the town of Colma.

Comments: 4

  1. The great photo looks like a fan trip with a “South San Francisco” dash sign. By the way, a portion of the 40 line track can still be seen rising through the asphalt just after Mission St turns into El Camino Real at Valley St in Daly City.

  2. The cemetery shown in the above photo, looks like the one across El Camino Real from the Cypress Lawn Cemetery where my family members were laid to rest. To get there now, I have to ride BART to the Colma Station, then take a SAMTRANS bus that stops right in front of Cypress Lawn. I am making a trip to the City, in early June, and I will pay my respects to my family there. The median, where the tracks were, is still there, and I have to cross it to get the bus back to Colma BART. Wish the streetcars were still running.

  3. I believe that’s Woodlawn Cemetery, which is north of Cypress Lawn and the first cemetery you hit after entering Daly City.

  4. About the only visible remnants of #40 line rail today can be found at the intersection of El Camino Real and Valley Street about a block south of San Pedro Road (Bottom of the Hill Daly City.) Both IB and OB rails are visible, though partially covered by asphalt.
    Another small piece about 8 feet long is visible behind a fence at the rear entrance to the Treasure Island Trailer Court in Colma, across from Holy Cross Cemetery and about 200 feet south of historical Molloys Bar.
    Art Curtis

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