/ Gravity Railroad
We know very little about this
roller coaster beyond the clippings and photos posted below.
I suspect it didn't last long given how few photos show it. If you have any
additional information, please
"Seal Rock House, Ocean Beach Pavilion, Gravity Train Roller Coaster, 1884"
"Photographer C. R. Savage"
San Francisciana Photographs of Playland
"View of Pavilion and Sutro Heights, Taber Photo, San Francisco"
Note the tracks, right-middle edge of photo
|The Street Committee of the Board of
Supervisors met this afternoon at 2 o'clock. A protest signed by
several well-known citizens was read, asking for the discontinuance
of the building of a "gravity railway" at the ocean beach. The
petitioners allege that the proposed railway will be a public
nuisance and would tend to frighten horses. A gentleman connected
with the railway was allowed to speak on the matter and claimed that
the protest was the outcome of jealousy among other people doing
business on the beach. The matter was taken under advisement for one
week, and the builders were permitted to proceed at their own
SF Examiner - Apr 24 1885
Report of Committees
Daily Alta California - 12 May 1885
Hover mouse over above image. Is this the board fence referenced above?
Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke
Close-up of fence structure
I believe there were at least two other roller coasters in San
with the Ocean Beach coaster, listed below for reference...
The Gravity Pleasure Railroad
San Francisco Roller Coasting and Gravity Co.
Bounded by Oak, Page, Stanyan and Schrader
Owners: Philip Hinkle & George Dawson
|S. B. Schloss et al., leases
to P. Hinkle, block 700, bounded by Page, Oak, Shrader
and Stanyan streets, (for 5 years from October 1, 1884,
first six months $100 per month, last fourth and fifth
years $300 per month).
"San Francisco Items" column
Sacramento Daily Union - 13 November 1884
Daily Alta California - 30 May 1885
SF Examiner - Oct 11 1885
San Francisco Chronicle - 06 Feb 1892
The California Gravity Railroad
Roller Coaster and Circular Gravity Railway Co.
Central Park, Eighth & Mission/Market
Owners: Moore (sp?) & Reynolds
|A petition was received from
Jesse A. Melcher, the School Director, asking for a
franchise for five years, permitting O. S. Mame of
Kansas City, Mo., and H. H. Reynolds, to operate the
roller-coaster and circular gravity railway upon such
premises as they may buy, lease or control. The petition
stated that the coaster is a means of popular amusement
quite common in Eastern cities. It is not propelled by
steam, but by force of gravity, upon the principle of
the inclined plane. There is no danger of collision, as
but one car at a time is allowed to run, and the second
is not started until the first has reached its
destination. It is patronized by adults as well as
children, affording healthy exercise. The petition was
referred to the Street Committee.
San Francisco Chronicle - Sep 9, 1884
Daily Alta California - 30 September 1884
San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 7, 1884
Daily Alta California - 21 October 1884
At the corner of Eighth and
Mission streets is to be seen in operation something
decidedly new for San Francisco. It is called the
circular gravity railway. It is a rather complicated
machine, being circular in shape and about 200 feet in
diameter, elevated at one end to about twenty-five feet,
and descending to the ground on the opposite side, when
it begins to ascend. Upon this is placed a car or
settee, capable of seating ten or twelve persons, which,
when a fare of five cents is collected from each person
wishing to ride, is pushed off down the incline at an
alarming rate of speed. The momentum is so great, and
the track is so arranged that the car ascends again on
the other side till it reaches the starting point, where
the passengers are discharged to make way for others.
The San Francisco Examiner - Nov 12 1884
Daily Alta California - 27 November 1884
Daily Alta California - 15 November 1884
This new place of amusement, on
Market and Eighth streets, which is destined to become
very popular, will be formally opened to the public
today. ... The gravity railroad, on the grounds, is a
novelty that will prove a great attraction.
Daily Alta California -18 December 1884
San Francisco Chronicle - Dec 18, 1884
Daily Alta California - 11 April 1885
SF Examiner - Apr 28 1885
Daily Alta California - 14 May 1887
San Francisco Chronicle - Feb 19, 1885
Roller Coaster and Other Ride Patents