Ever forget a birthday? We did, until Jeremy Menzies, who runs the great SFMTA Photo Archives, reminded us. Here’s his blog post on the 100th birthday of Muni’s only purpose-built work car, No. C-1.
The two links tell the story pretty completely. We just love this streetcar, a true rarity in transit today: a vehicle built exclusively for working on the system (instead of carrying passengers) that is still doing what it was built to do, for its original owner, a full century later. We don’t know of a comparable car, in North America at least.
When our volunteers restored it to its original appearance in 1992 (it had been heavily modified over the decades), it was reintroduced to the public on Muni’s 80th birthday, December 28, 1992. The redoubtable Carl Nolte described it thus, in the Chronicle
Even decked out in brand new gray paint with gold trim and flying four little flags, car C-1 would never be mistaken for a thing of beauty. It looks a bit like an outhouse mounted atop a dump truck, the kind of thing a small child might make out of blocks of wood.
Impressed by its role as the centerpiece of Muni’s birthday celebration, Nolte dubbed it “drudge made queen for a day.” Queen of the work cars forever, as far as we’re concerned.
And this also gives us the chance to share three great photos. The top one is the first known photo of C-1, taken March 17, 1916, obviously brand new. Below it, a matching shot we helped stage after the restoration in 1992. We’ll finish with a shot with a shot of C1 on Presidio Avenue near Geary in the 1940s when it had extra stuff bolted onto it.
Happy Birthday, C-1!
I was going to nominate 0304, but it started out as a passenger car. I can think of several surviving “works cars” but they’re in museums. New Orleans has a car that dates back to 1897, but, like 0304, it was converted from passenger service.