THE GEARY STREET PARK & OCEAN RAILROAD – 1880

The fourth cable traction company to open in San Francisco began service in February 1880, its line running from Market to Central [Presidio] Avenue along a major thoroughfare, Geary Boulevard. At Geary Street and Central Avenue a connection was made with a steam dummy, or “Steam Motor” as they were often referred to, operated by the same company. The motor line continued on Geary Street [then called Point Lobos Avenue] turning south on 1st Avenue [presently Arguello Boulevard]. This was the site of the Odd Fellows Cemetery, one of the many cemeteries located in this area, at the intersection of 1st Avenue and Fulton Street [then known as D Street]. The line terminated at an unassuming wooden station at 5th Avenue and Fulton Street.

Much of the capital put up for its construction came from Charles F. Crocker, son of the Central Pacific magnate. With no major difficulties on its route or in construction, the line ran successfully from its inception. This prompted Market Street Cable Railway to buy the line in 1887, although the name remained the same. In 1892 the line converted to standard gauge and the cars converted from the Eppelsheimer bottom grip to the simpler Root side grip used on the Market Street Railway. The line was extended west to Golden Gate Park, and a two story brick car house was constructed on the northwest corner of 1st Avenue. This structure has been called the most impressive cable car house built on the west coast. It still stands on the same corner, now Arguello Blvd.

The Geary Street, Park & Ocean powerhouse remained in a two story ornate wooden building at the northwest corner of Geary and Buchanan Streets, near the center of the present day Japanese Culture and Trade Center. The Geary Street line terminated at the intersection of Geary and Kearny Streets where a large double track turntable was located near the entrance to the old Chronicle Building.

The line survived the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, resuming service a little over two months after the disaster, in late June. The Geary Street Park & Ocean Railroad was notable for its use of the Eppelsheimer bottom grip, still used on remaining cable car lines in present-day San Francisco. The Geary Street, Park & Ocean ceased operations in 1912 upon the expiration of its franchise. Conversion to electric power was begun almost immediately, the Geary Street line becoming the nucleus of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco.

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