A desire named streetcar

We’ve romanticized streetcars. Probably because San Francisco kepts its cable cars and they became world famous. But streetcars were popular only until better alternatives came along.

For some reason, possibly greed, the Southern Pacific never upgraded Stockton’s system. The ride got bumpy. Streetcars slowed and blocked automobiles, adding to congestion. Buses had great advantages. Revising and extending lines was way easier, for instance.

Still, when you see a photograph like this one of a streetcar stopping at Oxford Circle, it is hard not to feel a loss.

Here’s the Stockton streetcar route map.  

What was it like? This Yardley cartoon captures some of it.

If you want to go way back, streetcars were horse- or mule-drawn.


You might assume the streetcar system was primarily for Stockotnians. But initially it was as much for travellers passing through. An east-west line ran from the Central Pacific railroad depot on the east end of town to the riverboat dock at the west end.

Here is that train station. Note the streetcar at right.

Finally, an amusingly named route, visible on the side of this trolley.

–Images courtesy The Haggin Museum


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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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