VIGNETTE > Lee St. Local

In 1905, streetcar-style service began for Blithedale Canyon residents.  The Lee Street Local ran on a mile of mountain railway tracks from Lee Street to the depot where it connected with trains to Sausalito.  There were stops at Bigelow (now Eldridge), the Blithedale Hotel, King, Marsh and Lee.  The full ride took nine minutes and initially cost five cents, raised to ten cents in 1917. Service ended in 1927, two years before the disastrous fire of 1929 that led to the demise of the mountain railway.  The original train was an open, six-passenger gasoline rail car dubbed the Black Maria. In 1906, it was replaced by a more economical steam engine pulling a wooden coach and dubbed the Dinky.  It made 18 round-trips a day. In 1916 a gasoline-powered Kissel Kar with a passenger compartment specially built in San Francisco replaced the Dinky.  The Kissel Kar was never as popular as the Dinky. It had a nasty temper on cold mornings and soon lost the confidence of commuters who preferred to walk rather than put up with its temperamental service.