Friday, July 29, 2011

San Francisco ~ Cable Cars ~ California

We arrived in San Francisco, CA to visit friends who live in the city and to spend the day sightseeing. We were excited to be able to have that time with them and get an inside look of the city that we’d not seen for many years.

Cable car in San Francisco, CA
The one thing that we’d never done on previous visits to San Francisco was ride the cable car and we were about to get that and even more.  Our friend is a retired ‘gripman’ who might be called the conductor or driver by those of us who are not familiar with the workings of the cable car.  The gripman is the one who drives or controls the cable cars and we were going for a ride and a tour of the garage.  Rice a Roni ! that was pretty exciting!  (this would only mean something to those over 50, hopefully, who watched TV commercials way back!).

Cable Car ride in San Francisco, CA
The gripman controls the grip, which will grab onto the moving cable under the street and depending on how loose or tightly he grips, will determine the speed of the car. The cables move at a constant speed of 9.5 mph all day long. It takes awhile to learn the right grip, no doubt but once he gets the perfect feel for it, it works great. This cable system has been around for a very long time and still works in this day of modern technology.

Maintenance for the cable cars
There are 26 cable cars in operation on any given average day and the rest of the 40 cars are in the garage for maintenance work.  We were able to see the undercarriage and we got the 'royal' tour of what and how things are done.  It is amazing how these use a simple process to move them up and down the hill.

Cable Car Barn in San Francisco, CA
The San Francisco Cable car is considered a National Historic Monument. It is the only manually operated cable car system in the world and the only remaining permanently operational one.  It has been in use for well over a century and well deserves the title.   

Cable Car Powerhouse
The Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse is very interesting and like a trip back in time. There are many museum pieces to see and a gift store to purchase a special reminder or gift of the cable cars. The Powerhouse shows the workings of the cable and how it actually makes the system work for San Francisco cable cars, it is big, it is noisy and it is amazing.

Riding the San Francisco cable car
There were some cars that weren't overflowing but we happened to be on one that was pretty full, so Keith was one of those hanging out the door. I think the guys might prefer to ride this way, seems to fit the adventures we remember from seeing the cable cars in the movies.  

Pushing the cable car around the corner
We'd been told that there might be the occassional time that the cable car doesn't quite make it around the corner and may need a push.  That did happen, how cool was that?  Once some were getting out to push, there was more than enough manpower to get it to the crest of the hill and be on our way.

The streets of San Francisco
There are plenty of  hills in the city of San Francisco and it was a fun afternoon that we were able to ride the cable car and experience what locals and tourists have been enjoying for over a hundred years.  We were the lucky tourists today, we got to see it all and even more with our friends in San Francisco.

There is so much to see in San Francisco, we saw lots and had a wonderful time and hope to share more.

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