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Cable Car Museum Tips (15)

The Cable Car Museum - Historic Photos.

The thing I personally liked most about the Cable Car Museum was the old black and white photos of San Francisco which adorned its walls. These showed early cable cars and the devastation caused by the 1906 earthquake. They were really quite interesting to have a look at.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
Feb 20, 2016

The Cable Car Museum.

One of the must do things to do in San Francisco is to ride in its wonderful old cable cars. We rode on all three of the existing lines and we also paid a visit to the cable car museum. This museum is located at 1201 Mason Street. Entry is free. Its opening hours are 10 am - 6 pm April 1st to September 30th; and 10 am - 5 pm October 1st to March 31st.

The Cable Car Museum was set up in 1974. It is located in the old Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse. The main floor of the museum overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables

The museum is home to three antique cable cars from the 1870s. The Sutter Street Railway No. 46 grip car & No. 54 trailer and the only surviving car from the first cable car company, the Clay Street Hill Railroad No. 8 grip car.

My favourite part of the museum was its historic photographs showing early cable cars and San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

We also enjoyed watching a film about the history of the cable cars.

The museum has a gift shop and clean toilets.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
Feb 20, 2016

Cable Car Museum

Fascinating, free Museum located in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse, the museum deck overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables. Downstairs is a viewing area of the large sheaves and cable line entering the building through the channel under the street. I watched and understood the way the cable cars run.

On display were many interesting mechanical devices such as grips, track, cable, brake mechanisms, tools, detailed models, antique cars and a large collection of historic photographs. There was a large gift shop with trolley car bells, books and everything that says San Francisco.

apbeaches's Profile Photo
Apr 22, 2015

Cable Car Museum

My unnatural curiousity nagged at me. How could a cable run all that way around beneath the city streets and pull those antiquated machines up and down hills?
Well, I went to the Cable Car Museum to try and get some answers and got most of them but somehow I still can't quite grasp that the whole thing can work.
From the first run in 1873 to the present. Learn about the inventor, technologies, builders, rapid expansion, near loss and the ongoing efforts to save and rebuild the cable cars of San Francisco.
The Museum houses a collection of historic cable cars, photographs, mechanical displays and gift shop run by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum - a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of cable car history.
In here you'll find large wheels around which the cable revolve and that, my friends, is basically what drives the system. In the cars themselves the operators work what looks like a brake lever to grasp and release the cable that is running beneath the roadway. It takes a good feel and plenty of strength. You won't see the "drivers" in the gym, they get their workout just working the lever.
Located in the Washington-Mason powerhouse and carbarn on Nob Hill it has three cars that date back to the 1870's.
The Cable Car Museum was established in 1974. It is operated by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum as a nonprofit educational facility.

iandsmith's Profile Photo
Aug 24, 2011
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Cable Car Museum

This is a small museum that won’t really take much of your time but worth a visit if you happen to be up the Nob Hill. There are some antique cable cars, small detailed replicas, brake mechanisms and tools, historic photos and a small souvenir shop. From the museum deck you see some huge engines and winding wheels that pull that move the cables under the street! You can go down the steps and watch it from close distance.

The museum opened in 1974 and although looking the huge engines downstairs was impressive, the 3 antique cable cars that date back from 1870 are the highlight (pic 2 shows the No.54 trailer the only surviving car from the first cable car company. The small gift shop has some nice magnets and several prints in normal prices.

There’s no entrance fee. The museum is open 10.00-18.00 (till 17.00 october to march)

After visiting the museum we noticed a broken tram just outside the museum (pic 5). For more than 10’ we stayed and watched how they were trying to fix the problem while the passengers were waiting at California avenue.

mindcrime's Profile Photo
Jan 20, 2010

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

Not just a museum, this is a real working facility which still controls the movement of the famous cable cars. See for yourself the elaborate workings of this National Historic Monument--the only one that actually moves. Designed by Andrew Smith Hallidie in the 1870s, this system was far ahead of its time.

Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in winter, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm summer (April to September).

Tom_Fields's Profile Photo
Jan 02, 2007

Cable Car Museum

If you are into cable cars (or even if you're not) then you must visit the FREE Cable Car Museum at the NW corner of Mason and Washington. Aside from the antique cable cars, mechanical devices, and memorabilia on display there; you also get to see the actual cables that make the cable cars move. The cables (one for each line), move at a constant speed of 9.5 mph underneath the street. Cable cars latches on to a cable in order to move.

cheap_tourist's Profile Photo
Jul 20, 2005

Cable Car Museum

The Cable Car Museum is located where the machinery that moves the cables that move the cars is located. It even has the smell of an oily machine room. You can see the maintenance people working during the day. There are several displays depicting the history of the cable car. A video plays in the back of the museum. A gift shop with an emphasis on Cable Car gifts is in the museum. The best part is the price - FREE.

stevepart's Profile Photo
May 18, 2005

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Cable Car Museum

Next to the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars are one of the things San Fran is known best for.

The Cable Car museum has old cable cars and their mechanics on display. Learn about the inventors, technologies, and builders behind cable cars.

10 am - 6 pm
April 1 thru September 30

10 am - 5 pm
October 1 thru March 31

Open every day except New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Admission is Free.

SmileyLeSa's Profile Photo
Mar 09, 2005

Cable Car Museum

The museum is a great place to learn everything about how the cable cars around San Fran run. It is all controlled from this location which is really cool and to actually be in the museum and hear the sounds of the cable car lines being controlled is awesome.

Nov 03, 2004

cable car museum

i wanted to see this because i am a tramdriver and wanted to see how it works because the cable is undergrounds.
the entrance is free but you can give an donation if you want.
you can also buy all kind of souvenirs about the cablecar.
entrance free
open 10 - 17.00

dila's Profile Photo
Aug 03, 2004

Cable Car Museum

This was our first stop in SF - and it's free! More than a museum - this is a working powerhouse. The cables are actually turning inside the building, and you can watch workers at their jobs below. Around the perimeter are explanatory plaques and historical information. Above is the cable car barn where the cars are stored at night (you can't see this from the museum).

Displays also focus on the cable car system revitalization in 1982 and historic cars which are now out of service.

cruisingbug's Profile Photo
Aug 02, 2004

Things To Do Near Cable Car Museum

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Getting to Cable Car Museum


1201 Mason Street, San Francisco


  • Sunday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Monday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Tuesday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Wednesday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Thursday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Friday 10:00 to 18:00
  • Saturday 10:00 to 18:00