Saturday, December 7, 2019

Pearl Harbor Day, 2019 -- December 7, 2019

78 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank or damaged much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

Dreadnought USS Maryland (BB-46) was commissioned in 1921.  She was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked in 1941. She was damaged, but was repaired. She was at Tarawa, Kwajalein Atoll, Saipan, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Photo #: 80-G-455000.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 -- November 28, 2019

New Yorker, 29-November-1952
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm grateful for health and life, my family, and my coworkers.

Arthur Getz drew this New Yorker cover showing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Friday, November 22, 2019

George Eliot 200 -- November 22, 2019

from George Eliot By Mathilde Blind
Mary Ann Evans adopted the name George Eliot when she began writing novels.  She was one of the most successful British authors during the Victorian Era.  She was born 200 years ago today, on 22-November-1819.
I think all seven of her novels have been adapted for film or television, even Felix Holt, the Radical.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Happy Veterans Day, 2019 -- November 11, 2019

East Oregonian, 11-November-1919
Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans out there. Thank you for your service to your country.

This is the 101st anniversary of Armistice Day. All the men and women who served in World War One are gone, but we can still remember their sacrifices.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Warriors -- November 5, 2019

On Friday we went to see the Warriors play at their new home in San Francisco, the Chase Center on Third Street in Mission Bay.  We were standing at a table on the third level when a young lady asked if she could share the table.  Some other people joined her and she asked if I went to a lot of Warriors games.  I said this was my game since the Warriors played at the Cow Palace, about 50 years ago.

The Warriors lost to the San Antonio Spurs, but it was an entertaining game.

Friday, November 1, 2019

November, 2019 Version of the Cable Car Home Page

I just put the November, 2019 version of my Cable Car Home Page on the server:

It includes some new items:
1. Picture of the Month: The former ticket office and waiting room of the Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway. Google Maps Streetview Image updated March 2019. Copyright 2019 Google.
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Ten and twenty year updates about Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway, including a current image of the former ticket office and waiting room
3. Added News item about a cable car being dedicated to Rey Morante, a conductor who was killed on the job

Ten years ago this month (November, 2009):
1. Picture of the Month: An advertisement for the Playa Del Rey development which mentions the "unique incline railway which will extend to the summit of Del Rey Heights..." From the Los Angeles Herald, 21-July-1905.
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Roll out a new article about the obscure Playa Del Rey Incline Railway, including newspaper ads and contemporary articles:
-- "The present week also marks the beginning of work upon the inclined railway..." (Los Angeles Herald, Monday, July 17, 1905)
-- "Rails and lumber are already on the ground for the inclined railway..." (Los Angeles Herald, Saturday, July 22, 1905)
-- "Work began today upon the new inclined railway..." (Los Angeles Herald, Saturday, July 29, 1905)
3. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: More about the Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway including a contemporary newspaper article:
-- Mount Washington Auto Climb (Salt Lake Herald, Sunday, July 11, 1909)
4. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Three advertisements for Court Flight and an entry from a 1907 Los Angeles guide book.
5. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: More about the Angels Flight, an entry from a 1907 Los Angeles guide book.
6. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Newspaper ads for the Mount Lowe incline and an entry from a 1907 Los Angeles guide book.
7. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Contemporary newspaper articles about the Santa Catalina Island Incline Railway:
-- Catalina Inclines Under Construction (Los Angeles Herald, Saturday, July 22, 1905)
-- Catalina Inclines Near Completion (Los Angeles Herald, Saturday, July 29, 1905)
8. Added News and Bibliography items about big rainfalls and the city working out a deal to buy historic cable cars and other artifacts

Twenty years ago this month (November, 1999):
1. Picture of the Month: Mount Washington, Los Angeles
2. Roll out Los Angeles area funiculars/Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway on the Other California Cities page
3. Add news item and bibliography item about a collision at Washington and Taylor

Coming in December, 2019: On the UK page: A ten and twenty year update about London's Highgate Hill Cable Tramway.

The Cable Car Home Page now has a Facebook page:

Joe Thompson
The Cable Car Home Page (updated 01-November-2019) 
San Francisco Bay Ferryboats (updated 31-January-2019) 
Park Trains and Tourist Trains (updated 31-July-2019)
The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion (updated spasmodically)
The Big V Riot Squad (new blog)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween 2019 -- October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween, everyone. The 01-October-1945 cover of The New Yorker shows a group of ghosts wondering whether they should trick or treat at a spooky-looking house.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Reddy Kilowatt Strikes Again -- October 29,. 2019

PG&E shut down our power at 8:10pm on Saturday.  It came back after 4pm on Monday.  The house was nice and quiet.  Traffic along Highway One was miserable.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

John Cyril Porte 100 Years -- October 22, 2019

New York Tribune, 28-October-1919
British naval officer John Cyril Porte planned to fly a Curitiss Model H flying boat, America, from the United State to Britain in July, 1914. He was competing for the Daily Mail's ₤10,000 prize for the first non-stop fight across the Atlantic. Sponsored by Rodman Wanamaker, Curtiss and Porte developed the Model H. The attempt was cancelled because of approach of war.

Porte designed many flying boats for Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). He also flew combat patrols so he could learn what was needed.  

Porte was accused of financial improprieties, but was later cleared. He died of tuberculosis 100 years ago today, on 22-October-1919.  

Lieut. Col. John C. Porte,
British Air Pioneer, Dies

Came to America in 1914 to
Help Curtiss Build the America for 'Cross-Sea Trip

BRIGHTON, England, Oct. 27. -- Lieutenant Colonel John Cyril Porte, former wing commander of the Royal Navy Air Service, is dead here of tuberculosis.

Lieutenant Porte came to this country in February, 1914, to cooperate with Glenn H. Curtiss in the construction and navigation of the huge airplane America, which Rodman Wanamaker purposed to send in a transatlantic flight. He returned to England in March, but came back in April with his young wife, announcing his intention of remaining here until he could go across in the airship. He planned to go from Newfoundland by way of the Azores and Spain. The vessel was built at Hammondsport, N. Y.. and was completed by June 20. Two days later it was launched on Keuka Lake, and in trials it more than fulfilled expectations. Delays arose, and at the beginning of August it was announced that Lieutenant Porte was returning to England for army service and that the flight across the Atlantic would be postponed until after the war. A little later the America was purchased by the British government and taken over on a steamship, and with it Porte did noteworthy service over the North Sea.

In the summer of 1915 Porte visited this country in the interest of the British aviation service. In July, 1917, charges of conspiracy and "graft" were preferred against him in England, but the government soon withdrew its case and fully exonerated him. He was at that time suffering from serious lung troubles.

In May last he went to Newfoundland to compete in the transatlantic race for the prize of $50,000 offered by "The Daily Mail" of London, but was recalled by the British Admiralty. He was the inventor of the type of airplane known as the "Felixstowe Fury." The largest aircraft of that type, and indeed the largest airplane of any type, ever built, was about to start from England for Capetown, South Africa, on August 11 last, when on a trial flight off Felixstowe it sideslipped and fell into the sea. The wireless operator was drowned, but the other six passengers were rescued.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Elijah Cummings, RIP -- October 18, 2019

I was sad to learn that Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore has died. He fought for voting rights, civil rights and social justice. Many people have commented on his kindness and many have called him a mentor.

He was very impressive when he chaired the Oversight and Government Reform Committee looking into the crimes of our so-called president. I am sorry that Representative Cummings will not be here to participate in the impeachment.

Loma Prieta Earthquake, 30-- October 17, 2019

[H.G. Wilshire, U.S. Geological Survey]

Thirty years ago today, I was at work in an office building at Fourth and Howard.  I usually left for home at 5pm, but I was debugging a series of programs that I was writing, trying to figure out why the output counter on one program did not agree with the input counter on another.  I was anxious to get home  to see the third game of the World Series between the Giants and the Oakland Athletics.  At 5:04pm, the building began to shake.  Several people ran to look out the windows.  I told them to get away from the windows and find some cover. 

The emergency team would not let us leave the floor.  My sister, who worked in the same office, and I were able to get out after a while.  I needed to catch BART to Daly City, but I figured it was down and I wanted to make sure my sister got home safely.  I later learned that my manager was on the crowded platform at the BART station when it went completely dark.  Eventually the emergency lights came on. 

My sister and I walked to the East Bay Terminal.  We saw a lot of broken glass.  We got on a 38 Geary.  It wasn't dark yet, so we saw damaged stores and terrible traffic.  We got off at Geary and Park Presidio.  I walked with her down to California Street, hoping to catch a 28-Nineteenth Avenue to the Daly City BART station.  I saw that traffic on Park Presidio was virtually stopped, so I decided that the bus was not coming soon. 

I walked out California Street.  It was starting to get dark and lots of people had candles on their stairways.  All lights were out.  The weather was warm and the air had a nice smell.  I walked up to my parents' house.  I knocked and then opened the door with my key.  I said "It's me."  "Who?" said my mother.  I explained.  Their house was not damaged, except for  some glasses leaning against the door of the china hutch.  I tried to call home and couldn't get through.  I asked if I could borrow their car.  I asked my mother to keep trying the phone.  She got through later. 

I drove carefully to the beach because the traffic lights were out.  I drove along the Great Highway, Skyline and Highway One.  The lights were out all the way.  When I got home to Pacifica, the lights had just come on.  My wife and daughter were ok and the house was not damaged.

They had been watching the game and saw the famous interruption before the power went out. 

I don't remember much of that night.  I called my parents to let them know I had made it home. 

The next morning I called my manager and he said we were supposed to stay home.  This was before we had remote access.  We drove to Daly City BART to get my car, then on to my parents' house.  We returned their car and checked to see if they were ok.  My wife was able to rescue most of the glasses leaning against the inside of the china hutch door. 

On Thursday, they let some of us volunteer to clean up the office.  We had to wear hard hats.  The building had big X-shaped beams in the windows.  Huge bolts had popped out of them and were lying on the floor.  I hadn't noticed on Tuesday, but many of the file cabinet drawers were open, especially the ones that contained heavy listings of programs.  I don't remember how long we stayed or what we did. 

On Monday we were able to go back to work, but in cubicles on the other side of the floor.  Many people were nervous about the bolts which had popped out.  I found the answer to my counter problem right away.  All of our batch processes, running in a data center on Fifth Street, had run without problems.  I later learned that the only system that had gone down was an Atalla device that fell over. 

After a few days, Wells Fargo said we were moving out.  Many people speculated that Wells wanted to break the lease and this was a good excuse.  The building continued to be used for years until it was torn down for Moscone West. 

We moved to the top floor of the data center on Fifth Street.  We worked in a big bullpen.  This required adjustments because we were accustomed to working in cubicles.  We didn't have voicemail.  In February, they moved half the team, including me, to a building in Oakland.  We learned that the previous group had moved out because of asbestos  contamination.  The other half of the team moved to a building at Third and Howard. 

Two years later, I transferred to another group in the building at Third and Howard.  I stayed there till 2012, when we moved to a building on Fremont.  This year we moved to a building on Market.

The photo, from the US Geological Survey, shows the collapsed Cypress Structure in Oakland.  One of my coworkers lost his partner there. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fires and Power Outages -- October 11, 2019

PG&E did a poorly managed power shutdown this week to try to cut down on wildfires during high-wind periods. I would like to see them spend some money on tree trimming and modernizing their infrastructure.

There are some large fires in Southern California because of the Santa Ana winds.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ginger Baker, RIP -- October 6, 2019
Ginger Baker, drummer for Cream, Blind Faith and other groups, has died. He was influenced by jazz drummers.  He had a bad temper; he once tried to stab Jack Bruce during a performance.

Friday, October 4, 2019

With a Big List to Port -- October 4, 2019

San Francisco Call, 19-November-1896
This drawing is from the 19-November-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper.

Although Now on an Even
Keel No One Will
Insure Her.

What will be done with the British tramp steamer Amarapoora is still a matter of doubt. The underwriters refuse to insure her and in consequence the owners of the cargo aboard will not allow the vessel to sail. That the Amarapoora is top heavy there can be no doubt.

All of Monday she lay in the stream with a list to port. Yesterday with the transfer of several tons of cargo from port to starboard she straightened up and is now on an even keel. Every inch of space on the steamer has been utilized and a schooner has been chartered to take away the freight left on Lombard-street wharf which she could not carry. All day she lay with steam up, but no satisfactory understanding could be reached, so the Amarapoora had to remain at anchor. She is one of the longest vessels in port for her beam, being 350 feet long and only 20 feet broad, while her depth of hold is 11 feet. The chances are still that the captain will have to dock her again and take off some of the deck load.

Feast of Saint Francis, 2018 -- October 4, 2018

Today is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. I took the photo at Saint Veronica's parish in South San Francisco on 24-February-2019.

"Lord make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

"O divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And its in dying that we are born to eternal life."

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Jessye Norman, RIP -- October 1, 2019

I was sad to learn that soprano Jessye Norman has died.  She had a distinctive voice.

October, 2019 Version of the Cable Car Home Page -- October 1, 2019

I just put the October, 2019 version of my Cable Car Home Page on the server:

It includes some new items:
1. Picture of the Month: A 1918 view of the Court Flight in Los Angeles (Source: Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection).
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Ten and twenty year updates about Court Flight, including some newspaper items and a postcard of the Santa Catalina Island Incline Railway
3. Added News item about the return of the cable cars after the Cable Car Gearbox Rehabilitation project.

Ten years ago this month (October, 2009):
1. Picture of the Month: A circa-1930 view of Court Flight, showing the sandwich shop which provided additional revenue to the line.
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: More about the Court Flight including a photo of Court Flight, an entry from a WPA guide, and some contemporary newspaper articles:
- Court Flight Delayed by Rain (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, January 1, 1905)
- Court Flight Real Estate Ad (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, January 8, 1905)
- Court Flight Fights A Competitor (Los Angeles Herald, Saturday, January 14, 1905)
- Court Flight Approved (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, August 13, 1905)
- Court Flight In Progress (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, August 27, 1905)
- Court Flight to Open Monday (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, September 24, 1905)
- Court Flight a Success (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, October 15, 1905)
- Court Flight Tax Plea (Los Angeles Herald, Tuesday, June 26, 1906)
- Court Flight Inspires Hotel (Los Angeles Herald, Sunday, October 21, 1906) Court Flight Losing Money (Los Angeles Herald, Friday, February 8, 1907)
3. Also on the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Another postcard of the Santa Catalina Island Incline Railway
4. Added News item about two new cable car videos, one for kids and one about the bell ringing contest. Created a new section on these and other Cable Car Videos on the San Francisco detail page
5. Also News and Bibliography items about a collision at Washington and Mason

Twenty years ago this month (October, 1999):
1. Picture of the Month: Powell and Mason, 1880's
2. Roll out More Ferries and Cliff House Pictures page
3. Roll out Los Angeles area funiculars/Court Flight and Catalina on the Other California Cities page
4. Add RR Extra to links
5. Add news item and bibliography item about a loose strand
6. Updated SF Roster page

Coming in November, 2019: On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: A ten and twenty year update about the Los Angeles and Mount Washington Railway

The Cable Car Home Page now has a Facebook page:

Joe Thompson
The Cable Car Home Page (updated 01-October-2019)
San Francisco Bay Ferryboats (updated 31-January-2019)
Park Trains and Tourist Trains (updated 31-July-2019)
The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion (updated spasmodically)
The Big V Riot Squad (new blog)

Monday, September 30, 2019

Taking a Break. 2019 -- September 30, 2019

I find that I need to take another break. Some regular items like the cat pictures will continue unabated.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Thank You, Boch -- September 29, 2019

Today Bruce Bochy managed his last game for the Giants.  The Dodgers won, but there were wonderful tributes to Bochy at the ballpark and on video.

See Twice as Much of the West -- September 29, 2019

Life, 26-February-1940
The Southern Pacific encouraged people to ride their trains to the second season of San Francisco's Golden Gate International Exposition.

Friday, September 27, 2019

What the High Cost of Living is Bringing Us To -- September 27, 2019

New York Evening Tribune, 14-September-1919
This cartoon complains about the high cost of living in New Orleans, which is a common problem after full employment during a war.  "Remember that our barbers have joined the procession of price-boosters."

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Monday, September 23, 2019

Top Liner Rag -- September 23, 2019
Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb were the three most important composers of classic ragtime. Joseph Lamb was the only one of the three who was not African-American. "Top Liner Rag" was considered one of his "heavy" rags.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Statue of Liberty...Aerial View -- September 21, 2019

Some people feel that images of Lady Liberty are insulting to our so-called president.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Youth Strike 4 Climate -- September 20, 2019

Martin Place, Sydney. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
I was happy to see that millions of kids all over the world took to the streets to try to move governments and businesses to do something about climate change.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

400th Anniversary of the Voyage of the Mayflower -- September 19, 2019
Monday I went to Good Shepherd School in Pacifica and talked to Junior High kids about the "400th Anniversary of the Voyage of the Mayflower." They are participating in a DAR essay contest on the subject. I talked about how the Mayflower and the Pilgrims were not very important in US history but became a major cliché in the 19th and 20th Centuries. I talked about how the kids should think about their senses when they write their essays, especially smell. It was fun, and they asked good questions. After, I was very tired.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Bruce Bochy 2000 -- September 18, 2019

Congratulations to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who won his 2000th game as a manager when the Giants beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park 11-3.

Before the game, Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch to his grandson, Mike, who is making a good impression with the Giants.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Which the Skipper Could Throw Beneath the Wheels -- September 17, 2019

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, 23-September-1919
I love Fontaine Fox's The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Ric Ocasek, RIP -- September 15, 2019
I was sorry to learn that producer, songwriter and singer Ric Ocasek has died.  He brought a distinctive sound to Cars records.  Cars videos turned up all the time on MTV.

Comic Book -- Dick Tracy -- September 15, 2019
Feature Books started in 1937. Each issue was devoted to a single comic strip character. Chester Gould created Dick Tracy in 1931. The stories became famous for colorful criminals and lots of violence. By the time I read it in the San Francisco Chronicle, there were strange stories set on the Moon with all sorts of odd technology. I remember a story about a mummified corpse that particularly disturbed me. A room in a neighbor's attic reminded me of the setting of that episode.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Eddie Money, RIP -- September 13, 2019
Eddie Money was very popular in the San Francisco Bay Area when I was a kid.  I remember hearing his music on KFRC.  Some of my friends must have bought his albums, but I don't remember.  He died and a bunch of friends and family members are bummed.

Pulp -- Argosy -- September 13, 2019
Frank Munsey's weekly Argosy is considered to be the first American pulp magazine. Johnston McCulley created Zorro and many other characters.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

09/11 -- September 11, 2019

The alarm went off at 05:29. I switched the radio from FM to AM and tuned into KCBS. They reported that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. Thinking of the bomber that hit the Empire State Building, I said it had to be an accident.

After I got dressed, I went downstairs and turned on the television, which I very rarely do in the morning, and they said another airplane had the other tower. Then I thought it couldn't be an accident, but I didn't understand how hijackers could force a pilot to fly his airplane into a building. Later on we learned that the hijackers had been flying the planes.

There weren't as many people as usual on the bus to work. I think I heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon while I was there. My manager told us that we could go home if we wanted to. My wife was working and my daughter was in school, so I didn't see a reason to leave.

We couldn't get any news on the internet, but I plugged in my radio and we all listened.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Admission Day 2019 -- September 9, 2019

Los Angeles Herald, 09-September-1919
We don't hear much about Admission Day anymore. Today is the 169th anniversary of California being welcomed into the Union. The Los Angeles Evening Herald published this "photographic cartoon" one hundred years ago today, 09-September-1919.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Transcontinental Railway Completed -- September 8, 2019

Daily Alta California, 08-September-1869
150 years ago, on 08-September-1869, the transcontinental railroad was truly completed when a train of the original Western Pacific Railroad ran from Sacramento to Alameda, where passengers could board a ferryboat to San Francisco.  This article describes the first return train. The Niles Canyon Railroad operates a surviving portion of the line. 


Passengers on the train for Stockton and Sacramento over the Western Pacific Railroad, yesterday morning, left this city at seven o'clock reached Stockton at 12 noon; left at 12:15 and arrived at Sacramento at 1:37. The train consisted of four passenger cars, and when it left the ferry pier carried about forty passengers, but when it reached Sacramento it was crowded, a large number of passengers having been picked up en route. Beyond San Leandro, going toward Stockton, the track is laid so hurriedly that fast running time cannot now be made, of course, but the work of putting down the ballast is going rapidly forward and trains will soon make as good time this side of Stockton as between that city and Sacramento - 48 miles -- which is now run in an hour and twenty-two minutes. The road from Stockton to Sacramento is in splendid condition, and the rest of the road will soon be as good, when fast time will be made. Next week passengers bound East overland will leave this city and proceed directly to the junction of the Central Pacific Railroad, without stopping at Sacramento. Passengers from Sacramento, bound East, will be taken up to Brighton, where the overland train will be made up. The trains leave this city regularly every morning at 7 and 3:30 P.M. The train from Sacramento (leaving that city at 3:30 P.M.) arrived here at 10:30 last night.

Daily Alta California, 08-September-1869

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Aerial Lights Seen Flitting in San Fernando Valley -- September 7, 2019

San Francisco Call, 30-November-1896

There were many sightings of unidentified flying objects in the United States during the late 1890s. I wonder what people saw. John L Davie, a Populist, was Mayor of Oakland from March, 1895 to March, 1897. 

This is our ninth report from the San Francisco Call.

18-November-1895: "Claim They Saw a Flying Airship"
23-November-1896: "The Great Airship That is Startling the People of Many Cities"
24-November-1896: "The Apparition of the Air"
25-November-1896: "Mission of the Aerial Ship"
26-November-1896: "The Mystery Again Seen at the Capital"
27-November-1896: "It Is to Be Used to Destroy the City of Havana"
28-November-1896: "Attaches a Balloon to the Warship of the Air"
29-November-1896: "Viewing the Mysterious Aerial Lights From the Dome of the State Capitol"

Aerial Lights Seen Flitting
in San Fernando
Brief Review of the Remarkable
Developments of the Past
Sees No Cause for Surprise in the
Claim That Aerial Navigation
Is Possible.

It is now about ten days since the first report regarding the elusive and mysterious aerial lights came from Sacramento. Since then developments in reference to them have been rapid and sensational, but mystery still surrounds the object and the human agency that are said to be responsible for ther appearance.

At this time the history of the myth, phenomenon, airship or whatever it may prove to be, will bear a brief review. This is given that the readers of THE CALL may the more readily and intelligently grasp the present situation.

Incredulity, deep and general, greeted the first report which credited the lights to an aerial voyager. Next it was announced that George D. Collins, an attorney of this City, was the legal representative of the inventor and manipulator of the wonder of the starlit sky. This honor Mr. Collins did not disavow, but was unconquerably obdurate when it came to a question of disclosing the name of his client, the location where the marvel was put together, or the place where it found exemption from the eyes of the curious.

The knowledge that this interesting information was lodged in his legal custody caused him to be besieged by newspaper reporters, speculators, investors, cranks and a horde of curiosity-seekers. Under the pressure thus put upon his time and patience, be made numerous statements relative to the matter that was absorbing public attention and his connection therewith.

Unfortunately these statements, as published in the various newspapers, did not fit together quite as accurately as a scientifically constructed edifice should. Among other things he allowed it to be inferred that a Dr. E. H. Benjamin had aided in the construction of the invention.

Meanwhile reports continued to come to hand daily of strange and luminous visions. Men well and most favorably known in scientific, official, professional, business and educational circles claimed to have seen these nocturnal visitations of moving lights at great altitudes. None, however, appear to have secured a clear view of the body to which it was supposed these aerial lights were attached, though most observers of the phenomenon stood ready to assert that they were guided in their course athwart the horizon by human power. Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose furnished the most frequent and startling descriptions of the mystery,

Suddenly came the news that ex-Attorney-General W. H. H. Hart had been substituted for Mr. Collins as the legal custodian of the secrets and destinies of the reputed airship.

This was followed by the announcement, on the authority of General Hart, that the airship mystery was only incidental to a full-fledged and extraordinary filibustering scheme for the capture or destruction of Havana, the stronghold of the Spanish authorities in Cuba, by the use of dynamite. He further informed the startled public that the aerial warship to be used in this enterprise would be designed to carry half a ton of dynamite, in addition to its necessary appurtenances and crew. He also, over his own signature, averred that two airships were now in readiness to sail the ethereal blue, and that another, on modified and improved plans, was in course of construction. As soon as this last-mentioned craft was completed and the crew made thoroughly acquainted with its handling it was to take flight, he said, to Havana, there to aid the Cubans in their struggle for independence.

For his advocacy of the use of dynamite General Hart was taken to task by the Bulletin, which was tentatively abetted by the Examiner. This attack elicited a spirited and martial-toned rejoinder. The fear in the public mind now is that the scene of war may be transferred from the carnage-stained fields of Cuba to the unoffending columns of the local newspapers.

Shortly after the name of Dr. E. H. Benjamin appeared in connection with the mystery of the air he disappeared from his lodgings at 633 Ellis street, where he had lived for two years, leaving nothing more than a carefully locked trunk behind. Yesterday morning he called for his bag and then "flew the coop," as the detectives phrase it, leaving no trace as to his future movements, but on the contrary taking precautions to cover his tracks.

Saturday night reputable people of Alameda aver that they saw the floating lights, and an electrician states it bore all the characteristics of an electric light.

Anderson, a town about ten miles south of Redding, lays claim to the honor of a visit from the aerial nondescript on Saturday night.

Mayor Davie contributes some pertinent philosophical reflections to the literature of the topic of the day.

Dispatches from Los Angeles last night state that the strange lights have been seen in the neighborhood for the past few days.

General Hart had something further to say yesterday on the use of dynamite in war.

"In the event that an airship could be made to destroy a city," he said, "that in itself would firmly establish the peace of the civilized world. It would be realized that it would be no use to fight against such means. The very fact that such a thing could be done would bring about universal peace. The result would be that the nations would resort to arbitration in all matters of international differences. It would no longer be a matter who has the biggest cannon and who can shoot the farthest. There would be no use for navies or fortifications, and thus would be brought about absolute peace."

He also took occasion to explain that the 120-mile flight referred to in yesterday's CALL was made with the larger airship. The smaller one, he added, is capable of moving much more rapidly. By going with the atmospheric currents and using the electric power at the same time, he claimed, it can attain a speed of forty to fifty miles an hour.

One point that has been noticed is that Attorney Hart intimated several days ago that the course of the airship would be southerly and dispatches confirmatory of this were last night received from Los Angles.

The Mysterious Lights Made Their
Appearance on Saturday
Night Last.

Alameda had another spell of excitement over the airship on Saturday night, when the mysterious light that has been puzzling residents of the towns about the bay made its appearance over the southern portion of the Encinal city.

Shortly after dark the family of a gentleman living at Versailles station, while observing the heavens from the southern windows of the house saw a big white light suddenly appear high in the air about over Bay Farm Island. It seemed to flare out in a second as though something that had obscured it had suddenly been removed. All watched with breathless interest while it rose, passing rapidly westward meanwhile to a greater height, where it seemed to pause for an instant. It then turned toward the south and passed on in that direction.

It appeared about the size of a man's head when first seen, but grew smaller and smaller until it passed out of sight. The time that elapsed between the first appearance and the disappearance was about twenty minutes, and all agreed that it seemed to lurch from side to side as it went southward.

A gentleman visiting at the house, who has had considerable to do with electric light power, and who saw the aerial mystery, is convinced that it could have been nothing else than an electric light of great power.

Her Citizens Claim to Have Seen
the Aerial Mystery In Its

REDDING, Cal., Nov. 29. -- Anderson, located about ten miles south of Redding, is either in line with other cities of the coast or else her citizens have the same "night owl" proclivities, for it is current talk that the aerial monster passed over Anderson last evening about 20 minutes past 8. Her citizens claim to have seen the stranger in its flight.

It was first observed from the corner of East Center and Ferry streets by a reputable citizen noticing a peculiar light in the westward. He called the attention of others to the seeming phenomenon, and quite a crowd collected. It was generally conceded that this must he the long-talked-of airship. Its course was south and west, and the lights soon disappeared in the south. The light was large and brilliant and seemed to move in a steady course.

Mayor Davie Says Some Pointed
Things About a Current
Topic of Interest.

OAKLAND, Cal., Nov. 29. -- Mayor Davie has seen a phase of human inconsistency during the past week that has amused him. It is best told in his own words:

"Whether there be an airship cruising nightly over this neighborhood," said his Honor to a little group of friends yesterday, "is only a secondary matter with me at this time. If there be not one now, I am convinced that the problem of aerial navigation will soon be solved. What is now interesting me is the peculiarities of some newspapers and some newspaper readers.

"Early Sunday, as you all know, we find on our doorsteps small libraries which are called daily newspapers. We look through them and find that a good portion of them is occupied with the marvelous things that scientists perfect and prophesy. During the past few months this has been more the case than ever before. The newspapers publish all these things as facts, profess to believe them, and the majority of their renders accept them as truth. Being somewhat of a scientist myself, I am led to believe in many things that now appear improbable. But I have a precedent for it.

"A year ago if any one had told me that they could produce a ray of light that would photograph my watch through a wooden box would I have been called an ass for doubting him? Yet I have seen this very thing done. We have all read of the progress of aeronautics, and yet when a thousand reputable citizens declare that they have seen some kind of a machine navigating the skies, and believe their eyesight as proof that some one has done what the newspapers have told us for years is only a matter of time, most of those papers try to make us believe that they have been fooling us with their probabilities, and that their stories of scientific prophecies are all fool stories.

"Several years ago there was an old inventor named Dr. Seering who lived in this city. One day I hear a conversation between him and the late Walter Blair, who built the Piedmont cable road. Seering told Blair not to think of putting his fortune into an expensive trench in the ground as in a short time electric-cars would be running all over Oakland. Blair laughed at the idea, put his trench in the ground and put his fortune into it, and electricity was substituted on his system after the road had been sold by the Sheriff.

Dr. Seering fell dead on the street here about two years ago, but a few weeks before his death he told me that with aluminum and electricity an airship would soon be a certainty. I don't say this as proof that there is a successful airship now in use, but I will say that if I were to read in to-morrow's paper absolute proof that one has been constructed, I should not be any more surprised than Walter Blair was after he saw his mistake."

The Aerial Wonder Appears to the
People of San Fernando

LOS ANGELES, Cal., Nov. 29. -- The operator of the California airship seems to find the climatic conditions south of Tehachapi very favorable for the evolutions of his bird-like machine.

Persons whose occupations keep them up late into the night relate experiences of having seen strange and peculiar lights during the past three nights moving about near the summit of the mountains or crossing the valleys at a rapid rate.

These visitations have heretofore been witnessed by only a few persons, but to-night scores of residents of East Los Angeles saw the flitting light in the direction of Pasadena moving along the foothills toward Santa Monica.

A CALL correspondent took great pains this evening to verify the reports about the lights, and is now thoroughly satisfied that some very unusual spectacle was seen by a large number of persons, all of whom gave substantially the same description of what they saw, and there can no longer be any question but that some figure of huge outline and carrying a light has been seen, in the San Fernando Valley and along the foothills extending from the valley to Santa Monica.

Motorman Millsap of the Downey avenue car line, which runs into East Los Angeles, gave the best description among the many interviewed. He is quite sure that what he saw is an aerial machine operated by a human being.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Perilous Trip of the Sloop Mack -- September 5, 2019

San Francisco Call, 13-April-1896
This drawing is from the 13-April-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper.

Perilous Trip of the Sloop Mack
All the Way From San
Luis Obispo.
An Encounter With the Gale That
Wrecked the Blairmore Off
Pigeon Point.

R. S. Eaton and C. Church, two young men from Morro, a little town a few miles north of San Luis Obispo, have just finished a noteworthy and very perilous feat in navigation.

In a twenty-foot sloop, only three feet deep, but illy fitted up for even small cruises in the bay, these adventurous young men sailed from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, arriving here yesterday after a series of perilous and exciting adventures.

The purpose of this 200 miles voyage by sea, in what is practically an open boat, was to gain neither notoriety nor a wager. Church, the older of the two, is a married man with three children. He had met with reverses at home; work and money alike were scarce, so he set out to seek -- if not his fortune, at least a living -- in the new gold fields of Alaska. He, expects to do boating for hire in the northern waters, and perhaps some prospecting on the side.

Lacking the necessary funds with which to purchase a boat, and being a good mechanic, he built the present craft at Morro and sailed her to this port, where she will be shipped to Alaska on the steamer Albion, which sails Thursday.

His companion came along simply to help him out on the trip, and will return home by the next steamer.

The boat, which is named the Mack, is 20 feet overall, 18 feet on the water line, 6 feet beam, 3 feet deep and is fitted with a steel centerboard 4 feet high and 5 feet long.

She is staunchly built, her entire frame being of oak, and her only upper works consists of a curbing 10 inches high, which extends from a few feet forward nearly aft, making her practically an open boat. For ballast she carries pig iron placed beneath the floor.

Her spread of canvas is as follows: Boom 19 1/2 feet, hoist 12 feet, gaff 8 feet and a small working jib.

What makes the trip all the more remarkable is the fact that the boat bad no sooner taken her initial dip into the water from the stocks than the mast was stepped, sails bent, provisions stored and the men were off on their risky trip. They rowed a mile out from land, when sail was hoisted for the first time. They had yet to learn how she would act under her spread of canvas and whether she was tight or leaky, but they adjusted their compass, got the charts out and were ready to meet the worst -- which was not long in coming.

The first day out they encountered a stiff northwester that tossed the little boat about like a feather in the wind, but she managed to maintain her equilibrium, and, as the storm became more boisterous, they squared away and made for port San Simeon, which they reached in safety.

They made no more stops after leaving San Simeon until they reached Monterey Bay, where they put in and replenished their stock of provisions.

After leaving Monterey Bay their troubles began afresh and wore enough to quail the nerve of the bravest.

While scudding along under full sail, to a stiff breeze, the throw halyard carried away and the mainsail became useless. To remedy this it was necessary to climb the slender mast and reef a new rope through the block.

While one of the men was aloft fixing the tackle a heavy swell struck the side of the boat, and, the man's weight on the mast caused the craft to careen over until she became almost filled with water.

The sun was sinking in the horizon and in the distance were the outlines of a steamer bearing down on them.

They had no lanterns aboard to signal to the vessel, and their sail was out of order. Darkness was rapidly approaching and the lights of the steamer kept getting nearer and nearer.

They whipped out their oars and commenced rowing for dear life to get out of the course of the steamer, but they were badly handicapped by their boat being full of water, and when the steamer passed them she was not more than 200 feet away.

"It was a close shave," said Eaton, in speaking of the trip yesterday, "but we were placed in a still more perilous position later on.

"When off Pigeon Point we ran into the storm that sunk the Blairmore in the bay. "We had only the jib set, and a 200 pound rock attached to a long rope was payed out to keep the boat up to the wind. It was very squally and the waves were as big as mountains and seemed to be coming in three or four different directions.

"They kept continually breaking over the boat, and our bedding and ourselves were soaking wet. The boat was rapidly filling. Then all of a sudden three huge waves, each coming in a different. direction, met underneath the boat and fairly raised it out of the water. She dropped with a thud down between two waves, but owing to the centerboard she still maintained her upright position.

"It was a trying ordeal, but we both kept our heads, and by careful maneuvering we came through in safety.

"No, neither of us ever sailed along the coast before. We steered by our compass, and got our bearings by comparing our charts with places on land in the daytime, and at night we could tell where we were by the lighthouses along the coast. It was my first trip to sea, but Church is quite a navigator, having sailed on the lakes and around San Luis Obispo. We cooked on an oil-stove, and one handled the boat while the other slept.

"We were five days in making the trip, and in the daytime kept close inshore and at night we steered well off to be out of reach of any snags.

"All the way up it was exceedingly cold, and at times we became so benumbed that we couldn't pull on a rope."

The little boat is now lying in the placid waters of Mission Bay, and resembles very much a small fishing-boat.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Monday, September 2, 2019

Ardenwood Railfair 2019 -- September 2, 2019

Yesterday we went to the 20th annual Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Farm in Fremont. The weather was hot, so we didn't stay very long. Turnout was lower this year, perhaps because of the heat. We saw 1890 Porter 0-4-0 Ann Marie push a flatcar carrying an agricultural plow. Ann Marie could not pull a passenger train for the public again this year because of issues about some state rules. They hope to resolve the situation for next year. Ann Marie made some runs back and forth near Ardenwood Station. Kids love the chance to ride a train and don't care what is pulling it.

Labor Day, 2019 -- September 2, 2019
Happy Labor Day, everyone.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

September, 2019 Version of the Cable Car Home Page -- September 1, 2019

Los Angeles Herald, 29-March-1901
I just put the September, 2019 version of my Cable Car Home Page on the server:

It includes some new items:
1. Picture of the Month: A view of the planned Angels Flight in Los Angeles (Source: Los Angeles Herald, March 29, 1901).
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: A ten and twenty year update about Angels Flight, including some newspaper items
Ten years ago this month (September, 2009):
1. Picture of the Month: An early Angels Flight advertising flier, including a photo of Colonel JW Eddy, who built the line and operated it
2. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: More about the Angels Flight, including photos from Joe Lacey, tickets, and an old flier, and several contemporary newspaper articles:
3. On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Two contemporary newspaper articles about the Mount Lowe incline
4. On the Motorized Cable Cars page: A strange-looking double decker
5. Added News item about a new animated video, "Cubbie the Cable Car"
6. Added link for MunsonWorks, a manufacturer of inclined elevators

Twenty years ago this month (September, 1999):
1. Picture of the Month: Angel's Flight.
2. Roll out Los Angeles area funiculars/Angel's Flight on the Other California Cities page
3. Add link to new site from the Friends of the Cable Car Museum
4. Add cable car sudden stop to news & bibliography
Coming in October, 2019: On the Los Angeles area funiculars page: Ten and twenty year updates about Court Flight and the Catalina inclines

125 years ago, on 19-September-1944, a cable tramway began running between King and Ocean Streets, Sydney, New South Wales.

The Cable Car Home Page now has a Facebook page:

Joe Thompson
The Cable Car Home Page (updated 01-September-2019)
San Francisco Bay Ferryboats (updated 31-January-2019)
Park Trains and Tourist Trains (updated 31-July-2019)
The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion (updated spasmodically)
The Big V Riot Squad (new blog)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The 1619 Project -- August 31, 2019

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the New York Times have joined to create the 1619 Project.  In August, 1619, the first enslaved Africans arrived in the English North American colonies, at Point Comfort, Virginia.

Some crazy racists pretend they do not understand why the Times is dredging up this old story.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

See the World's Greatest Fleet -- August 29, 2019

Omaha Bee, 05-April-1908
The Union Pacific Railroad invited Omahans to ride the Overland Limited to San Francisco to see the Great White Fleet.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Canal Street, New Orleans -- August 27, 2019

Canal Street in New Orleans once had four tracks for streetcars, like Market Street in San Francisco. Then Canal Street had none, except for one block used by the Saint Charles Avenue line. Now Canal Street has two tracks for most of its length.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The London-Paris Air Service -- August 25, 2019

Flight Magazine, 28-August-1919
100 years ago today, on 25-August-1919, the first scheduled air service between London and Paris began service. The company used DH 4s and DH 16s, which were based on the DH 9A light bomber but with a wider fuselage. 


Monday last saw the inauguration of the daily air service between London and Paris organized by Messrs. Aircraft Transport and Travel, Ltd. Two Airco machines set out from this side and one machine from Paris.

An Airco 4 machine, fitted with Rolls-Royce engine, left Houslow at 9.10a.m.; it was piloted by Lieut. E. H. Lawford and carried Mr. G. M. Stevenson-Reece, of the Evening Standard, as well as a full load, including a number of daily newspapers, a consignment of leather from a London firm to a firm in Paris, several brace of grouse and a considerable number of jars of Devonshire cream. It arrived at Le Bourget, the Paris Terminus, at 11.40.

At 12.30 p.m. an Airco 16 fitted with Rolls-Royce engine left Hounslow for the regular journey to Paris, the landing being made at 2.45 p.m. Major Cyril Patteson was the pilot and four passengers were carried.

One Machine -- an Airco 4A -- left Paris at 12.40 p.m. and, piloted by Lieut. J. McMullin, with Lieut. Lawford and Mr. V.M. Console of the Daily Mail as passengers, it arrived at Hounslow at 2.45 p.m.

Although the Handley Page service does not start its regular running until Monday next, a preliminary trip was made last Monday. The machine used was of the twin-engined type and the pilot was Maj. Foot, while the 14 passengers included Mr. L.A. Northend of the The Times; Maj. C.C. Turner, Daily Telegraph; Mr. E.A. Perris of the Daily Chronicle; Mr Harold Begbie, Daily Chronicle; Mr. Tourtell, Daily Express; Mr. Bartholomew, Daily Mirror; and Mr. Crosfield, Daily News.

The machine started from Cricklewood at 8.20 a.m., called at Hounslow for Customs formalities, was away at 9.20 a.m., and landed at Le Bourget at 1.15 p.m. Owing to difficulty in obtaining petrol the return journey was postponed to the following day.