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Cable car museum full of hustle and bustle

By Catholic Online
September 3rd, 2010
Catholic Online (

The San Francisco Cable Car Museum is not your typical museum. When one thinks of a museum, one tends to think of it being filled with the archaic artifacts of yesteryear, each lighted softly and placed behind Plexiglas. The cable car museum is full of noise, hustle and bustle, a clamoring dynamo of giant spinning sheaves that pull the cable cars up the cities famously steep streets.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Those who are mystified about the workings of san Francisco's cable car system, the most complex in the world, can have their questions answered at the museum. Each streetcar is pulled along a huge continuous loop of cable, which is then constantly turned by a giant spinning sheave.

These gigantic sheaves, wheels with grooves along their edges for holding cable can be seen working away at the Cable Car Museum, always moving the huge loops of cable running under Hyde, Mason, California, and Powell streets.

Streetcars usually move by clamping onto the cable and being pulled forward. Operators must swiftly let go of the cable when taking certain turns or when one cable car crosses another, and then quickly clamp on again.

The cables, sheaves, and cars must be kept in top running condition in order to avoid runaway streetcars, of which there have been only a handful in the history of the city.

In addition, the Museum's mezzanine offers a subterranean glimpse beneath the city streets of the cables, sheaves, gears, and electric motors that run the system.

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