San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Sutro’s Steam Train
All aboard for Lands End
In the early 1880s, three miles of sand dunes separated the developed areas of San Francisco from Lands End, where Adolph Sutro was developing popular seaside attractions – Cliff House, the gardens of Sutro Heights, the seven swimming pools at Sutro Baths. A private rail line ran out to Ocean Beach, but Sutro felt its ten-cent fare was outrageous.
To provide affordable public transit, Sutro funded the Ferries & Cliff House Railway. Beach-goers could transfer from cable cars downtown and ride the steam train to Lands End for a mere five-cents. The train’s route wound along this cliff, affording unobstructed ocean views, earning a reputation as one of the most scenic short-line railroads ever built.
The Ferries & Cliff House Railway ran three and one quarter miles from the corner of California Street and Presidio Avenue to the depot across from Sutro Heights. Coming around the slope just ahead, the train traveled the same course the California Coastal Trail follows today, past the spot where you stand. Ferries & Cliff House Railway train, c. 1900
[Map of Lands End] The Ferries & Cliff House Railway route, 1897 Vivian Young Periodic landslides plagued the rail line. Retaining walls along parts of the track
[Three photos] 1890: California Historical Society;
1901: Bancroft Library;
February 1925 Ute Collection; 1921:
The end of the line was a wooden terminal located at the corner of 48th and Point Lobos Avenues – directly across from the entrance to Sutro Heights.
Erected by Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service.
Location. 37° 47′ N, 122° 30.689′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is on Lands End Trail west of El Camino del Mar & north of Seal Rock Drive when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Francisco CA 94121, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Navigating the Golden Gate - Bonfires, buoys, and foghorns (within shouting distance of this marker); FDR's Salute (within shouting distance of this marker); Heavy Cruiser USS San Francisco (CA38) (within shouting distance of this marker); This Memorial to Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (within shouting distance of this marker); Electric Streetcar Line (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Peoples of the Coast - Why did they live here? (approx. 0.2 miles away); In Memory of Adolph Sutro (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 25, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 698 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on November 2, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 11, 2012. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.