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Guide to the Clement Family Documents Relating to San Francisco Cable Cars, 1877-1958 (bulk 1880-1899)
BANC MSS 2002/264 cz  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Clement Family Documents Relating to San Francisco Cable Cars,
    Date: 1877-1958
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1880-1899)
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2002/264 cz
    Creator: Clement family Clement, L. M. Clement, R. M.
    Extent: Number of containers: 8 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 36 oversize folders, 4 v. and 2 oversize v.

    Linear feet: 5.5
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: Contains original and blueprint engineering drawings of cable car lines, electric railways, railroads, and other related drawings. Cable car drawings include drawings of the complete workings for 7 cable car lines for Market Street Cable Railway Co. Railroad drawings include drawings of bridges and profiles of sections of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. The collection also includes L.M. Clement's reference materials and some of R.M. Clement's personal papers.
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator or the Head of Public Services for forwarding. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Clement Family Documents Relating to San Francisco Cable Cars, BANC MSS 2002/264 cz, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Cable Street Railroad Co. records, 1884-1952. BANC MSS C-G 254
    Patents, drawings and other documents pertaining to cable car design, 1890 April. BANC MSS 92/899 c

    Separated Material

    Photographs transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    Books transferred to the Book 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.
    Market Street Cable Railway Company.
    Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
    Pacific Rolling Mill Company.
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Alumni.
    Cable cars (Streetcars)--California--San Francisco.
    Railroads, Cable--California--San Francisco.
    Electric railroads--California--San Francisco.
    Railroads--United States--History--19th century.
    Public works--California--Oakland.
    Political posters, American.
    Transportation--California--San Francisco.
    Engineering drawings.
    Clement family.
    Clement, L. M.
    Clement, R. M.
    Market Street Railway Company.
    Market Street Cable Railway Company.

    Administrative Information


    The Bancroft Library purchased the Clement Family Documents Relating to San Francisco Cable Cars with funds made available by the Irma Amalie Kessler Bequest on Oct. 21, 2002.


    Acquired with funds from the Irma Amalie Kessler Bequest in memory of her parents, Richard T. Kessler and Emma Kessler, and their close friend, William S. Porter, M.D.


    Lewis Metzler Clement

    Lewis Metzler Clement, known as L.M. Clement, was born in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, on August 12, 1837. Clement earned an engineering degree from Montréal's McGill University. Clement began his career with the railroads as a shipping clerk with the Central Ohio Railroad, eventually moving to St. Louis where he worked for E.R. Blanchard, General Freight Agenet of the Ohio and Mississippi Railway Company. In January 1863, Clement decided to leave St. Louis to seek his fortune in California. With a recommendation from Blanchard, he was able to secure a position from Theodore Dehone Judah, Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, as Judah's assistant in the surveying and building of the first railroad eastward across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With Judah's death, Clement was made Assistant Chief Engineer and eventually the Acting Chief Engineer.
    The eastward route from California that Clement laid out for the Central Pacific Railroad is still in use today, while the original westward route from Omaha, Nebraska built by the Union Pacific Railroad was abandoned and rebuilt elsewhere because of its poor location and inefficient operation.
    In 1881 Clement was named Chief Engineer of the Pacific Improvement Company, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad. As the Chief Engineer he was in charge of designing and building cable and electric railways, power plants and car houses. Among the cable lines he was responsible for helping to build were the Hayes Street, Castro Street and McAllister Street Cable lines of the Market Street Cable Railway Company.
    L.M. Clement passed away at home in Hayward, California on October 29, 1914.

    Russell Montague Clement

    Russell Montague Clement, known as R.M. Clement, son of Lewis Metzler Clement, was born March 30, 1865 in a camp along the Central Pacific Railroad line. Russell studied civil engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1889. He worked for both the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Pacific Improvement Company and later served as the City Engineer for Oakland, California. R.M. Clement died in 1958.

    Market Street Railway Company

    The Market Street Railroad Company, incorporated in 1857 was the first street railway system in San Francisco with tracks going down Market Street. Originally operated with steam dummy's pulling the cars, they were switched to horse drawn cars in 1867 after complaints from residents.
    In 1882 construction began on converting the lines on Market Street to cable and completed in August 1883. From then on they were known as the Market Street Cable Railway Company. The company eventually had cable lines running down McAllister Street, Hayes Street, Haight Street, Valencia Street and Castro Street, all connecting on Market Street. Henry Root originally designed the system. This cable car line was also know as the Southern Line as it was owned by the same owners of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the "Big 4", Huntington, Hopkins, Crocker and Stanford. L.M. Clement who worked as a Chief Engineer for a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad probably oversaw the engineers in charge of designing the cable car lines.
    The Market Street Cable Railway Company came up with many new innovations in cable railways including use of a single car and the single-jaw side grip. Their innovations were reported in 1884, in "The System of Cable Railways for Cities and Towns as Operated in San Francisco and Chicago." The Cable Railway Company, the owners of the original cable car patents, responded in a pamphlet entitled, "Cable Railway Company in Reply to the Pamphlet issued by the Market Street Cable company," and a lawsuit. The Cable Railway Company pursued many lawsuits against other cable car companies. Most failed.
    In 1893 the Southern Pacific Company arranged a merger between the Market Street Cable Railway, the Omnibus Railroad and Cable Company, the Ferries & Cliff House Railway, and two horse car operations to become the Market Street Railway Company.
    Around the turn of the century the Market Street Railway Co. petitioned to switch their cable car operations to electric railways, but San Francisco did not want electric lines going down Market Street. When the 1906 earthquake hit, the company constructed temporary electric lines on all of their routes except Castro Street. The lines have been electric ever since.
    After years of financial problems, in 1944, the San Francisco Municipal Railway bought out the Market Street Railway.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Clement Family Documents Relating to San Francisco Cable Cars, 1877-1958 (bulk 1880-1899), consist primarily of engineering drawings of cable car lines, electric railway equipment and railroad surveys.
    The set of original and blueprints of cable car drawings are thought to be of the lines operated by the Market Street Cable Railway Company. These drawings show the complete workings of a cable car line from the design of the cars, the grips used on the cables, to how the tracks were built. It is believed that no other institution holds such a complete set of drawings for a cable car line. It is unknown who made these original drawings, only the initials J.C.W. appear. They were probably done by a subordinate of L.M. Clement who was the Chief Engineer of the Pacific Improvement Co., a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which owned the Market Street Cable Railway Co.
    Other cable car drawings of interest include plans for a machine shop, a depot, street profiles, transfer tables and a cost chart for cable cars that includes ridership from 1888 to 1890.
    The other transportation drawings in the collection show the progression of transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the Western United States and the Clement families involvement in that progression. Of note is a set of watercolor and ink drawings by L.M. Clement of a Howes Truss Bridge.The collection also includes a small amount of items that are not drawings, these are a small amount of professional papers of L.M. Clement and R.M. Clement of note is a poster for R.M. Clement's campaign for City Engineer of Oakland.
    Transferred from the collection were photographs of a cable car wheel, a cyanotype of a Market Street Cable Railway car, along with a few other photographs of cable cars, a tintype of L.M. Clement and photographs of R.M. Clement's classmates and teachers at MIT.