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Cable Car Museum, San Francisco

Sure, even folks from the Bay Area enjoy riding the cable cars occasionally when visiting San Francisco, but…HOW DO THEY WORK? :-)

The answer and many others lie at the Cable Car Museum at 1201 Mason Street! (The web site does a pretty good job, too!) The Museum was established in 1974 and is run by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum. The entrance is at the corner of Washington and Mason, and the museum is one of the few places in San Francisco where ADMISSION IS FREE! 😉 (Just teasing – there are many places where admission is “free” – it just doesn’t “feel” free if you pay for parking.) It was free when we visited there a few years ago, and Wikipedia says that it still is!

We (my sister-in-law and her two grown sons from the Mid-West, and I) visited the museum the hard way, literally by accident, while walking north from downtown San Francisco up and over the hill on the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a lot of good exercise, and we saw many things that tourists in cars or public transportation might miss, AND the excursion allowed us to have lunch at a little Italian restaurant that we might never have found, otherwise.

There has been too much written about the San Francisco cable car system, both in Wikipedia and in the official web site for the Museum, to reproduce it here. Almost needless to say, the system had early development and growth, decline, and (typical for San Francisco :-) ) civic (not “civil” :-) ) battles, and rebuilding.

The Cable Car Museum has several examples of old cable cars, some smaller exhibits, and a shop. In addition (I found this fascinating), there are galleries which overlook the main power house of the system, where visitors can see the cables and the large pulleys that make the whole system work. There is an interior view of the power house in this article and a smaller one here. But, as the old song goes, “There ain’t nothing like the real thing…”

I once wrote that many people in California (like everywhere else) are so busy working that they don’t take time to “smell the roses.” There are, no doubt folks in the Bay Area, and even San Francisco, who have never visited the Cable Car Museum (or have no desire to do so! 😉 ). Regardless of your interests, there are “hidden gems” all over California, and enough of them to keep even a “cultural omnivore” like myself interested and busy for the rest of his life.

The Cable Car Museum is one of these gems and worth a visit. Enjoy!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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