Like Clockwork

In this view down 11th Street, the cable cars that once climbed the hill from the Morgan Bridge echo in the shade of a summer day a century ago. The soundtrack for everyone on the street was the constant metallic bass tone rumble of an endless hemp rope wrapped in steel wire traveling in a channel and on pulleys just under the street. It was Tacoma’s hidden clock, running in a loop up 11th from A to K Street and then over to 13th and down again. The electrically powered system began in 1892 and just after midnight on April 7, 1938 Tacoma’s last cable car completed its final circumnavigation leaving the street strangely silent. When the Tacoma Railway and Power Company’s cable system was powered off for good, it was the second to the last operating metropolitan cable car system in America. The last was in San Francisco and it is running still.

s. 11th st

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