Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid to the California Street Cable Railroad Company records, 1884-1952
BANC MSS C-G 254  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: California Street Cable Railroad Company records
    Date (inclusive): 1884-1952
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-G 254
    Creators : California Street Cable Railroad Co. (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Extent: Number of containers: 8 boxes, 9 cartons, 3 oversize boxes, 36 volumes Linear feet: 23
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    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.

    Publication Rights

    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: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    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: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [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.

    Separated Material

    Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    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
    Transportation--California--San Francisco
    Railroads, Cable-California--San Francisco
    Street-railroads-California--San Francisco
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    Minutes-California--San Francisco
    Stock certificates-California--San Francisco
    Ledgers-California--San Francisco
    Online Archive of California

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Processing Information

    Processed by George Miller and Rebecca Kim in 1999. Additional processing by Lara Michels in 2012.

    Biographical Information

    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.