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History in Motion

Muni's Heavy Lifter Turns 100

Thursday, March 17, 2016

This year marks the 100th birthday for one of Muni's hardest working streetcars: motor flat C-1 — Muni's purpose-built historic work car that hauled materials, tools and equipment to maintain the city's rail system. On this day in 1916, the new workhorse posed for its official "portrait" outside Muni's original headquarters on Geary Boulevard and Presidio Avenue. It's been toiling away ever since.


Side view of Muni work streetcar C-1, a flat car with a central control booth.  Taken March 17, 1916
Motor Flat Car C1 on Geary Boulevard at Presidio Avenue | March 17, 1916

Car C-1 was the only car built for Muni solely as a work car. Muni's later work cars were, like most work cars in the industry, converted passenger cars.


Crop view of Gold-leaf Municipal Railway logo showing an overlapping 'M' and 'R' inside a circle.  Taken March 17, 1916
Gold Leaf Municipal Railway "MR" logo on Car C-1 | March 17, 1916


C-1 also carries a Municipal Railway logo not seen on any other car. We have yet to uncover a reason why this logo exists and was only used on C-1. Perhaps it was a special touch made just for this car?




Color photograph of Work streetcar C-1 on Market Street and Duboce Avenue.  Car is a flatbed streetcar with a control cabin in the center.  Restored for Muni's 80th birthday.  Taken December 28, 1992
Car C-1 Restored for Muni's 80th Birthday | December 28, 1992


In 1992, the Market Street Railway restored C-1 to its original appearance and gifted the car back to Muni for the transit system's 80th birthday. On December 28, C-1 joined Muni's first passenger car, Streetcar 1, at the rail siding on Duboce Avenue and Market Street for a combination christening and birthday celebration.


Work Car C-1 running over new rail junctions with workers standing nearby, street is unpaved.  Taken May 30, 2012 at Church Street and Duboce Avenue
Car C-1 being tested on new tack junctions at Church and Duboce | May 30, 2012


In modern times, C-1 sees occasional action as a test car and is outfitted with an electric generator to free it from the overhead power system. Seen above in 2012 after workers replaced the complex rail junction at Duboce and Church Street, C-1 was used to make sure the switches and crossings were in order before the rails were returned to service.


To dig deeper into Car C-1's 100 year history, roll on over to Market Street Railway.


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