In Los Angeles, CAL. two small cable railways were constructed in the year 1885 under patents belonging to these Companies, --the Second Street Cable Railroad and the Temple Street Cable Railway. They are single track roads with turn-outs; one of them being about 6,900 and the other nearly 9,000 feet in length. In operating these roads, where turn-outs are met, the rope is dropped from the grip and the cars pass around the turn-outs by gravitation. There is only one slot for the grip, the rope traveling in opposite directions upon pulleys placed 28 feet apart. The pulleys are constructed in pairs but are not set side by side, one being a foot or two in advance of the other. There is a turntable at each end of the road for reversing the dummy.
These roads were constructed almost entirely in the interest of adjacent property, but have unexpectedly proved to be good investments, and the sucessful operation of them has led to the introduction of the cable system into that city on a very extended scale.
|The Electric Railway Journal -1887-|
Like most Spanish and Mexican colonial cities, Los Angeles grew up around a central plaza. Bunker Hill, like Nob Hill in San Francisco, impeded development northwest of the Plaza.
Real estate promoters, seeing the success of the cable car lines in San Francisco, projected a line to climb Bunker Hill on Second Street. Their job was made more complicated by the fact that Second Street was not graded far past Fort Street (now Broadway). The work required deep cuts in Bunker Hill. The line climbed another hill beyond Bunker Hill. The powerhouse was in the valley in the middle.
In an effort to save money, the line was built with a single track. Passing sidings were arranged so that downbound cars could drop the rope and coast through. The arrangement was not successful. The line was designed by J.M. Thompson, an engineer who worked for the patent trust's Pacific Cable Construction Company.
The line contained the single steepest cable gradient in North America, 27.7% between Hope Street and Bunker Hill Avenue. The company connected with a steam line, the Cahuenga Valley Railroad, which ran to Hollywood. The steam line was later forced to cut back to the city limits, which hurt the Second Street company.
The company was short of cash throughout its life and it was especially hurt whenever it rained, because the water would run down the poorly drained conduit, damaging the cables and the pulleys. The line was shut down from late February to early March 1888 because a replacement cable could not get through the mud from the train station to the powerhouse. The line shut down on 13-Oct-1889 when the cable broke and the company could not afford a replacement. A terrible storm on 24-Dec-1889 ruined the property beyond repair. The Second Street Cable Railway became the first operational cable car line to be abandoned.
|The Cable Car Home Page by Joe Thompson|