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Cable Car Museum

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bayareamuseums's items8 of 741873 Clay Street Hill Railroad Car No. 8Coit Tower Mural
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    Posted 12 years ago

    (74 items)

    Continuing my tour of San Francisco, here are pictures from the Cable Car Museum. The cable car museum is cool in that not only is it a museum, but it also still operates the cables for the four operational cable car lines in San Francisco (California, Mason, Hyde, and Powell).

    The museum itself is dark and musty, so if some of my pictures aren't great, I apologize. You will just have to go yourself and see it (it's free)!

    Here is the history of the cable car, as provided by the museum. I know it's long, but it's worth a read:

    "The inventor of the cable car, Andrew Hallidie, came to the United States in 1852 from England. His Father was an inventor and engineer who had taken out the patent in Great Britain for the manufacture of wire rope."

    "Hallidie worked as a blacksmith and surveyor in the gold fields of California. At the age of 19 he designed and built a 200 ft. wire suspension bridge across the American River near Sacramento. Soon after, he constructed a wire rope-making machine, the product of which was used to pull ore-filled cars up a track from the mines. He moved his wire rope-making plant to San Francisco where, on a drizzly day in 1869, he watched, horrified, as a heavily loaded, horse drawn streetcar slipped and slid back down a steep grade dragging the fallen horses to their deaths."

    "Hallidie went to work to invent a strong cable grip to pull streetcars safely up and down the steep San Francisco hills. The prelude to his cable car planning was his patent for an 'endless ropeway,' and the securing of a street railroad franchise."

    "In 1872 he bagan building the world's first cable railway up Clay Street. Know as 'Hallidie's Folly,' his system laid cable in a slot beneath the street and relied on a steam-powered plant to run the cable through the street."

    "The Clay Street Hill Railroad opened for service on September 1, 1873. As might be expected of the world's first cable line, it was a very simple installation. It ran double-tracked, 2,791 feet long and terminated at a pair of turntables at Kearny Street. The turntables were incapable of revolving completely, since the cables ran directly through them. The single-ended grip car was turned half on the first and half on the second for the return trip. Initially the line operated at 4 miles per hour, later at 6. A one-way trip required 11 minutes."

    "The Clay Street line was a small and unpretentious operation, but was successful enough to inspire investments in other cable lines through San Francisco. Eventually, other cities in the nation began building cable lines based upon the system invented by Hallidie and the example of San Francisco."

    From my journey to the Cable Car Museum.

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