summer of 1892 7
from the Erle Hanson Collection
at the Western Railway Museum
Bill Williams is gripman, Jack Peterson is conductor

The Piedmont Consolidated Cable Company (PCCC) was a street car company which had a line to Piedmont and a line to Mountain View Cemetery. The cable line to Piedmont replaced an earlier horse car line of the Broadway and Piedmont Railroad owned by Walter Blair. It was combined with the Fourteenth Street Railroad Company which Blair also owned to form the PCCC in 1890. It was later reorganized into the Piedmont and Mountain View Railway and electrified before being absorbed by the Realty Syndicate and then becoming part of the Key System.

The powerhouse for the system was at 24th and Harrison in what became the Cox Cadillac Showroom building, now a Whole Foods Market. The excess heat was used to heat water for the adjacent Piedmont Baths. The Oakland Avenue line up to Blair's Park famously included a gravity-powered section on the return.

Broadway and Piedmont Railroad

The Broadway and Piedmont Railroad was a horse car line which ran up Broadway and Piedmont Avenue (then called Webster) to Mountain View Cemetery, started in 1876. The 1876 and1887 directories list Walter Blair as president, and Montgomery Howe as superintendent. It was sometimes referred to as the Piedmont Railroad Company or the Piedmont Street Railroad.

In 1876, one of the drivers, Charles E. Hutchins, was killed. It was thought that the horse kicked him in the face, killing him instantly. 18 (The article says S.E. Hutchings, but the 1876 directory lists Charles E. Hutchins as a driver for the Broadway and Piedmont.)

Fourteenth Street Railroad

The Fourteenth Street Railroad was a horse car railroad started in 1877, and had a car barn and stables on the northwest corner of 14th and Center Streets. 5 The original franchisees were Walter Blair, James de Fremery, Montgomery Howe, and Samuel Howe. In 1879, they extended the line to Peralta, up to 16th Street, then to the train station. 6

A fire in March 1882 destroyed the stables, killed most of the horses, and damaged some of the cars. 14 By August they had constructed a new car barn, using bricks. 15

The 1887 directory lists Walter Blair as president, and says the car barn was at 14th Street and Center.

In 1889, the company started work on converting the horse car line into a cable line. Then two weeks later, they abruptly stopped. They had laid one block's worth near the approach to the 16th street train depot, apparently to block the Central Avenue Cable Company from getting access to the depot. 16

Piedmont Consolidated Cable Company

Walter Blair died suddenly in January 1888.

In April 1890, a group of investors filed articles of incorporation. The group included Phoebe Blair (Walter's widow), Montgomery Howe, Samuel Howe, Daniel Meyer, Ira Bishop, E.A. Heron, and Wilson B. Morse. It had $2,000,000 stock in 20,000 shares of $100 each.

A cable car line up Oakland Avenue to Blair's Park opened August 1, 1890. 4,11,13 The line to Mountain View Cemetery was inaugurated August 3, 1892. 3,4 They considered converting the 14th Street line to cable, but after some initial work, converted it to electric instead. 9,17

With the Panic of 1893, the company was unable to make an interest payment on a bond, and it was placed into receivership. Ira Bishop, one of the directors, was appointed receiver. He was the manager of the San Francisco Tool Company, which had provided the cable for the construction of the cable routes. 8,9

Piedmont and Mountain View Railway

In receivership, the company was reorganized into the Piedmont and Mountain View Railway. The 1895 directory lists Ira Bishop as manager (as well as president of the Piedmont Baths.)

In 1895, the company was sold at auction, with Ira Bishop acting as auctioneer. The sole and winning bid was $82,000 from Charles Bishop, vice-president of the Bank of California. [ unknown if he was related to Ira Bishop ] He held $100,000 of the company's bonds. 10

Also in 1895, some lines were converted to electricity and some parts (like the gravity loop) were abandoned. At that point, all but the steep Oakland Avenue section had been converted to electric. That happened in 1896. 12

Finally, in 1897, the railway was absorbed by the Realty Syndicate. 12

Links and References

map of cable lines 2

  1. Cable Combination Oakland Morning Times April 20, 1890
  2. Oakland's Cable Cars of Last Century Recalled Oakland Tribune July 16, 1969
  3. Piedmont Avenue Was 'Out in the Country' Before Trolleys The Knave Oakland Tribune February 16, 1969
  4. The Knave Oakland Tribune April 15, 1962
  5. Transit Times September 1963
  6. Oakland Brevities Oakland Tribune November 17, 1879
  7. Piedmont Cable Company History of Piedmont
  8. Piedmont Road San Francisco Call November 2, 1893
  9. Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company The Cable Car Guy
  10. An Oakland Road Sold At Auction San Francisco Call March 20, 1895
  11. Out To Piedmont Oakland Tribune August 1, 1890
  12. In Grandpa's Day (part 2) Western Railroader March 1959
  13. Out To Piedmont Oakland Tribune August 1, 1890
  14. A Destructive Fire Oakland Tribune March 16, 1882
  15. West Oakland Items Oakland Tribune August 17, 1882
  16. Work Suddenly Stopped on the Fourteenth Street Cable Oakland Tribune November 22, 1889
  17. The Fourteenth Street Electric Line Is Being Pushed Oakland Tribune May 2, 1892
  18. Fatal Accident Oakland Tribune October 26, 1876