SDERy Car 54

Brief History

San Diego Electric Railway (SDERy) Car 54 holds the distiction of being San Diego's oldest existing streetcar but it is more than that! It was built in 1903 in the SDERy's own shops from two San Diego Cable Cars that had themselves been built in 1889. Four cars - 51 to 54 - were built from 8 different cable cars. The car operated on the SDERy system from 1903 to 1914. After a short time in storage, the car was sold and transferred to Logan Heights where it stayed until 1958. After a few relocations, it moved in 1962 to the Whaley House property in Old Town. In 1980, the car found a home in Balboa Part inside the San Diego History Center. The National City Depot Museum brought the car to its current home in 2014.

Cable Car Roots

Cable Car named Las Penasquitas
The "Las Penasquitas" - one of the original 8 San Diego cable or grip cars.

While San Francisco is the first thought when cable cars are mentioned, San Diego has its own heritage built on cable cars. The first efforts at a street railway were horse cars, steam dummies, and primitive electric street car lines. To bolster sagging population in San Diego in the the late 1880's pushed city aldermen and developers to finance a "cable road." A powerhouse was built on the block bounded by Fourth Ave, Spruce St, Third Ave, and Redwood St.

Quick Facts

  • Built in 1903 in the SDERy Shops from two 1889 Cable Cars
  • One of four cars built - cars 51 to 54
  • Retired in 1914
  • Length: 33 feet (xx m)
  • Width: 7 ft 6.5 in
  • Weight: 24,000 pounds (10,890 kg)
  • B27G Trucks
  • 2 GE-67 Motors
  • K10 Controls
  • 36" Wheels
Source: Mike Reading