The cable car museum is located in the San Francisco neighborhood of Nob Hill. Located on Mason Street, the museum contains explanatory and historical exhibits on the cable car system of San Francisco. The cable car museum contains many small exhibitions, samples of old cable cars, and a shop.
Among the cable cars displayed at the museum is the Clay Street Hill Railroad which is grip car No. 8 and the first cable car company’s only surviving car. Another famous cable car exhibit of the museum is the Sutter Street Railway which dates back to 1870. The cable car is trailer No. 54 and grip car No. 46.
The cable car museum of San Francisco is part of the building that contains the power house of the cable car. The power house drives the cable car and the barn (cable car depot). Visitors are not allowed to access the cable car depot, but they are permitted to view the powerhouse through two overlook galleries at the museum. You will see the cable-pulling winding wheels and the huge engines here. Visitors can also get down below the junctions of Mason and Washington to see as the haulage cables are channeled through the large cavern, out of the street. There is also a viewing section downstairs, where you can see the cable lines and large sheaves as they enter the building via an under-street channel.
It is interesting to watch the cables whir over the giant bull wheels. The cables make a whirring sound as they pull the cars from beneath the cable car tracks. The most astonishing thing is that they all connect inside the long functioning ban of the cable car system.
Established in 1974, the cable car museum has been managed as an educational nonprofit facility by the friends of the cable car museum. The museum is accessed via an entrance at Mason and Washington. It is opened between April and September from 10 AM to 6 PM and between October and March from 10 AM to 5 PM, with the exception of the public holidays.
The general exhibits of the cable car museum are the mechanical devices which include the tools, cables, brake mechanism, track, grips, a large collection of historic photographs, and detailed models.
The cable car museum store is a great place to get cable car related items. The store offers genuine cable car bells, cards, clothing, books, and a variety of cable car memorabilia.
The museum has an astonishing historical record that includes records about Andrew Hallidie who was the engineer that developed the San Francisco cable cars, the cable car lady, Friedel Klussmann — who saved the cable cars from dying completely — and other information about the early 80s massive restoration.
Admission to the cable car museum is free; you can just walk in and walk around at your own pace. The museum is very interesting. It’s absolutely about the unique cable cars, its history, and how the system works.
Estimate 15-30 minutes for this museum, depending on how interesting you find the place when you arrive.