This company, organized in 1878, was notable for being the first line to tackle Russian Hill. Andrew S. Hallidie, president of the line’s predecessor Presidio Railroad Co., continued as president until William Clift succeeded him. Investors included Hallidie’s original partners Britton and Moffitt, as well as Antoine Borel, who had bought out Leland Stanford in the California Street Railroad. The line ran primarily on Union Street, covering roughly two miles. It opened for service on October 23, 1880. A horsecar from the Ferry Building met the start of the cable line at Columbus Avenue and Montgomery Street, which ran along Columbus to Union, then turned west to Steiner Street in the Western Addition. There a steam line continued on to the Presidio. The line was unique in that it combined three of the early modes of urban transport known to San Franciscans. The powerhouse and carbarn was located at the highest point on the line, at the southeast corner of Sharp Place (near Leavenworth Street) and Union Street, the summit of Russian Hill. This reduced the strain on the cables and terminal sheaves, but made delivering parts and fuel to the powerhouse more difficult.

The Presidio & Ferries was probably the only cable car operation to loose a car in a rainstorm. During a series of severe storms in the fall of 1904, a cable train was swept from its tracks as it approached the intersection of Baker and Union Streets around midnight. Despite such mishaps, the line ran until 1906 when it suffered the most damage of any San Francisco cable car line and the owners discontinued cable service on the route, converting the operation to electric power using a fleet of small electric cars purchased from the United Railroads of San Francisco. Upon the expiration of its franchise in 1913, the line became part of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco.

Cable Car