Wednesday, March 23, 2016

San Francisco shipyard railway, interesting stuff

During WW II this railway delivered ship workers to their jobs building and repairing warships for the United States Navy. Due to the lack of raw material, especially steel, due to the war effort the rail had to be built using only recycled or scrap metal. The key system also reused rails from tracks they had dismantled after shutting down certain routes due to lack of ridership. Even the actual streetcars that ran on this line were all salvaged from scrap heaps or were out of date streetcars that were brought out of retirement.

After the war ended the navy offered to let key systems keep ownership of shipyard railway but since the steel workers were no longer needed for the war effort, ridership was expected to decline, so they refused the offer.

After this shipyard rails were quickly dismantled and its cars retired, however, some of its trolleys still exist today. Car 561 (Fickewirth 1992) was restored and is now giving rides at the western railway museum were it is believed to be the oldest electric streetcar still operating in the United States. Its sister car 563 is also at this museum but is still being restored.

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