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November 17, 2013

United States: San Francisco


San Francisco Cable Car Museum

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

Our visits to new cities often come with maniacal attempts to see it all.  As we never know for sure that we will be able to return we try to see all the main sights while we can.  But at home there’s no such urgency.  Since we live nearby we figure we can see what there is to see next week, next month, or next year.  This lack of urgency has a downside.  Decades later there are tourist sights that a typical visitor sees during a short stay in the San Francisco that we’ve never visited.  Enough procrastination, it’s time for us to get on with it and show some tourist love to our home area.

Our first visit to San Francisco’s Cable Car Museum was confirmation–we do need to explore our home area more.  Everybody has seen cable cars.  But have you ever wondered how the cable cars work?  A visit to the museum explains it all.

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Scenes from downtown San Francisco

The Cable Car Museum is more than a collection of stale displays.  It is also the system’s powerhouse.  Here the eleven miles of cable that pull the cable cars around the city converge.  Four loops of wire rope are guided through the museum by a collection of pulleys.  Separate 510 horsepower electrical motors energize the cables.  Key elements of the system, the guide pulleys and motors, are visible from viewing areas.  Seven million passengers a year are carried through San Francisco by a cable car system that dates from the 19th Century.

San Francisco’s Cable Car Museum is a peek into the working guts of the last remaining manually operated cable car system in the world.  It’s worth a visit to see even if it is nearby.

Cable Car Museum

Cable Car Museum

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Mass transit, San Francisco style.

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