Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Real San Francisco cable cars once ran in O.C.

In an online discussion group I subscribe to, someone asked about the old cable cars that once around the parking lots at Knott's Berry Farm. I thought I'd share a condensed version of what I learned here...

Knott's bought six California Street Cable Railway cars (and a bunch of other old stuff) from the San Francisco Municipal Railway in 1955. They were c onverted to battery power and operated at Knott's from Easter 1955 until 1979. After their service at Knott's, one car ended up at the Poway Midland Railroad and another was preserved at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. The other cars were sent back to San Francisco in fall of 1980, but are not in operation today. Meanwhile, back at Knott's, all that remains of their 1955 purchase are the vintage crossing signals that can still be found on Grand Ave. today.

Another reminder of the Cable Cars is the Cable Car Kitchen building, located between Virginia's Gift Shop and Knott's main entrance gates. It opened in 1959 and it's name was selected in a contest. (The working title of the restaurant during construction was "Jester's Pantry.") It was still operating ast the Cable Car Kitchen as late as the early 1980s, but today is divided into multiple food service operations, including Chicken Express.

1 comment:

Steven Georges said...

All those years I worked at Cable Car Kitchen (or CCK as we often called it) I never heard of the name "Jester's Pantry." (or that the building is as old as I am) Wow, that's great to know. Thanks!
It may go under another name now but much of the original building remains the same. I'm happy to see they kept the building after all these years.
It was a fun place to work. Made some good friends there. Even met my wife working at the berry stand at Sutter's. (Married 22 years now with four kids)

I applied for and was set to become a Cable Car operator. The job fell through I think because of the decision to end the Cable Car operations at Knott's.
One of the drawbacks to the Cable Cars at Knott's was their inability to stop on a dime. The cars were heavy and they took a little time to role to a stop. Something cable car operators had to be very careful of. I heard (this is only a rumor coming from me) that this played a part in the decision to discontinue cable car operations.