Cable Car

California Street Cable Railroad

Double-ended “California Car”

Built by:

John Hammond & Co. – 1906


16,800 Pounds

Line Assignment:

Presidio Ave. California & Market Streets

On Permanent Loan from:

City of San Francisco – 1955


All Aboard for Travel Town! - 1956

“Cable cars” were once a common form of public transportation in many American cities.  Cars were pulled along the track by an endless-loop steel cable, positioned in channel beneath the street.  The cars moved by “gripping’ the cable and stopped by releasing it.  Cable cars were a big improvement over horse-drawn streetcars, especially on hilly routes that were too steep for horses to negotiate safely.  Los Angeles got its first cable cars in 1885 with the opening of the 2nd Street Cable Railway.  Most cable railways eventually gave way to electric trolley cars and ultimately to buses.  However, the very hilly city of San Francisco continues to operate several of its iconic cable car lines as vital components of its transit system.  Car No. 21 is an example of the double-ended “California Car” – this type car has “grips” at both ends, allowing it to operate in either direction on the route, without having to be ‘turned around’ at the end of the line.   

California Street, San Francisco - photo courtesy Jim Schein

Please be a friend to the Trains!

Consider making a donation to help our museum volunteers restore the trains and improve your  Travel Town experience!

More Interesting Information:

The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 destroyed nearly all of the cars on the city’s extensive cable car systems.  The double-ended “California” style car displayed here at Travel Town is one of 25 replacement cars built for the California Street Railway right after the earthquake.  The all-weather car includes both interior and outside seating for 34 passengers and could carry up to 64 people including ‘standees’.

A California Street Cable Car near Grant Avenue in San Francisco mid 1930s - as seen on