A San Francisco cable car built in 1883 that was last in active service in 1942 is being put back to work, possibly starting next month. The car has languished in the back of the SFMTA's cable car barn for the better part of eight decades, and following a lengthy restoration process, cable car historians are gleefully awaiting a chance to ride in it.
It's known as Sacramento & Clay Sts. cable car 19 — not to be confused with a number-19 car of a different vintage that currently runs on the Powell Street line. As ABC 7 reports, it's an extra-long cable car, 34 feet in length, and because these cars didn't fit on the turnaround turntables on the Powell Street line, they were largely scrapped after the Sacramento & Clay line was shut down.
As Market Street Railway reported, car 19 was tested early on the morning of July 26 on the California Street line. "This was the final test in a 20-year process to return a tired, sagging cable car that forlornly sat at the back of the cable car barn into a fully operable vehicle," the site said.
As Market Street Railway's Rick Laubscher tells the Examiner this week, the primary concern with car 19 was that it might not be able to get over hills because of its length — seven feet longer than the currently operating cable car fleet.
Market Street Railway notes that this car could, potentially, be put into service on Powell Street in addition to California Street, because switches that were installed in the 1980s allow the cars to bypass the turntables.
The SFMTA’s System Safety Department now has to certify the car for full service, which they hope will happen in time for Muni Heritage Weekend, which starts September 7.
Photo: SFMTA Archive