Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: California Street Cable Railroad Company records
Date (inclusive): 1884-1952
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-G 254
California Street Cable Railroad Co. (San Francisco, Calif.)
Number of containers: 8 boxes, 9 cartons, 3 oversize boxes, 36 volumes
Linear feet: 23
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information
on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head
of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The
Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright
owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research
and educational purposes.Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition,
the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor
restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected
by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner.
Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the
Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:
[Identification of item], California Street Cable Railroad Company records, BANC MSS C-G 254, The Bancroft Library, University
of California, Berkeley.
Alternate Forms Available
There are no alternate forms of this collection.
Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
California Street Cable Railroad Co. (San Francisco, Calif.)--Archives
Stanford, Leland, 1824-1893
Borel, Antoine, 1840-1915
Railroads, Cable-California--San Francisco
San Francisco (Calif.)
Stock certificates-California--San Francisco
Online Archive of California
The California Street Cable Railroad Co. (San Francisco, Calif.) Records were given to The Bancroft Library by W. P. Wreden
and Dr. John O. Hanan in December 1959.
No additions are expected.
System of Arrangement
Arranged to the folder level.
Processed by George Miller and Rebecca Kim in 1999. Additional processing by Lara Michels in 2012.
In 1874, Leland Stanford set out to promote the idea of a cable car for California Street, the principle ascent of Nob Hill
from the east, with a more reasonable grade than Clay Street. In 1876, in collaboration with several associates in the Central
Pacific Railroad, he secured the franchise, and construction was begun on July 5, 1877. The line ran between Kearney Street
at the foot of Nob Hill to Fillmore Street in the Western Addition, a distance of about 1.7 miles, and a power house, designed
by W.W. Hanscom, was put in at Larkin Street. Initially, the line operated with 25 grip cars and trailers built by the Kimball
Manufacturing Company and the Central Pacific shops.
Service was initiated on April 10, 1878, at a ceremony attended by over six thousand people. The route duplicated the Clay
Street Hill Railroad on its ascent of Nob Hill, but the western route was the first cable car service into the Western Addition.
In the spring of 1879, the track was moved west by 0.8 miles, from Fillmore to Central (Presidio) Avenue. The extension was
cheaply built of wood framing and planks in an effort to finance the project out of earnings. The new tracks were ready for
service on May 30, 1879, but the right-of-way was so unsatisfactory it had to be rebuilt with standard conduit in 1884.
In 1884, Stanford sold his interest in the company to Antoine Borel, a Swiss-born San Francisco banker. Borel and President
James B. Stetson initiated an expansion of the property in 1889. Included in the extension was a new powerhouse at California
and Hyde Streets, an extension of about a half mile east to Market Street in 1890, and a new cross-town route on O'Farrell,
Jones and Hyde Streets which opened February 9, 1891. This line of ca. 2.5 miles was intended to provide a direct connection
between the Russian Hill area and the shopping district south of Union Square. A shuttle on Jones Street served the Tenderloin
district. Howard C. Holmes was in charge of track construction.
The company was quite successful at the beginning of the 20th century, but like the rest of San Francisco's cable operators,
the company suffered terrible damage in the earthquake and fire of 1906. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, with which the
company had some common ownership, was so hard hit by the disaster that the company settled for 50% of its claims. Management
had the system back in operation by August 1906, but full restoration of the physical plant was not finished until July 1908.
The company maintained its independence of the Market Street Railway and of the Municipal Railway throughout the first half
of the century, but the forces acting against the transit industry generally began to afflict the company seriously in the
late 1940's. Traffic held up fairly well, but costs rose disproportionately. In 1949, a legal judgement, in which the company
was held liable, caused Lloyd's of London to cancel the company's insurance contract and brought operations to an end on July
31, 1951. The City and County of San Francisco bought the company for $138,000 and restored operation on January 13, 1952.
Scope and Content of Collection
Board of Directors files, including articles of incorporation and related documents, as well as minutes of meetings; stock
records, including minutes of annual stockholder meetings, correspondence, certificates, dividend statements, notices, and
transfer records; general files arranged alphabetically by subject; operations records, including daily car records (chiefly
receipts from the California and Hyde St. lines), accident reports (which list the date, time, line, and parties involved),
and records of personal injuries resulting from accidents; personnel records, including weekly, monthly, and half-monthly
time books (which record hours worked by each employee, hourly pay rate, and wages paid each week to conductors and gripmen),
payroll ledgers and reports, and records of the employees benefit fund; financial records, including journals of daily purchases,
cash books (chronological record of cash receipts and payments), ledgers, and trial balances; and Railroad Commission files.