The Cable Car Museum is a free museum in the Nob Hill neighborhood Located at 1201 Mason Street, the San Francisco Cable Car Museum is the perfect place to learn how San Francisco's favorite means of transportation works. The museum has been operating since 1974, contains historical and explanatory exhibits on the San Francisco cable car system, which can itself be regarded as a working museum. The museum's main exhibition explains the history and operation of the Cable Car. On learning how it functions you will understand the great expense that is involved in maintaining the system alive.
In the ground floor you will see the enormous machinery on which the cables that make the trolleys circulate throughout San Francisco rotate.
In the Cable Car Museum you will also be able to see some old trolley cars and some photographs of its evolution over the years as well as learning how it was affected by the great earthquake which destroyed a large part of the system.
The museum contains several examples of old cable cars, together with smaller exhibits and a shop. The cable cars displayed include:
Sutter Street Railway - grip car 46 and trailer 54 dating from the 1870s
Clay Street Hill Railroad - grip car 8, the only surviving car from the first cable car company
Exterior of the Ferries and Cliff House Railway Co. Building Constructed in 1887. Houses both the cable car winding station, engines, and museum. The smoke stack in the rear was damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, restored then soon decommissioned when steam power was replaced with electrical power at the winding station.
The museum is part of the complex that also houses the cable car power house, which drives the cables, and the car depot ("barn"). The car depot is not accessible, but two overlook galleries allow the visitor to view the power house, and to descend below the junction of Washington and Mason streets in order to view the large cavern where the haulage cables are routed via large sheaves out to the street.
The cable car is part of the charm of San Francisco; everyone wants to travel in it and to photograph it climbing the steep hills. The best way to get to know it is in its own museum and, better yet, its free admission.
Things to do in SF!