102 Years Ago: Fairfax Incline Railroad Installed

by Laurie Thompson

Anne T. Kent California Room Collection

Marin Journal, 14 August 1913:

An Important step was taken in the development of suburban San Francisco when the Fairfax Development company placed their funicular car upon the tracks in Fairfax Manor their Marin County residence park. This firm rightfully claims the distinction of being the first Real Estate concern in California to employ an incline railway in the facilitating of ingress and egress to hillside and hill top view properties.

From the base of the hill to the summit, the car will traverse a distance of 1,500 feet, negotiating a 33–1/3 percent grade or a rise of 500 feet of distance. The car is electrically operated and without a stop will make the trip in 3 minutes. Being the latest model, every safety device and appliance possible has been provided. The doors to the entrance are operated from the seat of the motorman in the same manner that pay-as-you-enter cars are handled. The seating capacity of the car accommodates 26 people.

This line was built to serve what is known as the Heights of Fairfax Manor, being the uplands of that subdivision. It is an incorporated concern known as the Fairfax Incline Railroad company with a capital stock of $10,000 issued in 10,000 shares at $1.00 each. Prentiss N. Gray is general manager. An idea of its practicability can be gained from the fact that it brings every site in the subdivision within a ten minute level walk of the car….

Historic Note: According to William & Brian Sagar, authors of Faifax, the Incline Railroad operated from Aug. 16, 1913 until 1929. They relate that “After 1920, a tavern was built at the top of the line, which offered chicken dinner for $1.50. On May 26 that same year, an outdoor dance floor was inaugurated with a fee of 75 cents per couple. The view was inspiring and well worth the trip. The owner, Mr. Hochfelder, even inaugurated taxi service from the depot to bring patrons to the hill…. In time, the foundations of some of the support timbers for the tracks began to settle, causing the car to lean as it passed over a particularly high point on the line…. The State Railroad Commission condemned the system in 1929 and closed it down.”

Originally published at https://annetkent.kontribune.com.



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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room


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