The Early Intake (Lower Cherry) Powerhouse began commercial operation five years before the O’Shaughnessy Dam was completed. The following photos show a 1918 peek at the tramway that ran from the “ridge” to the river-side site, which was a long way down and very steep.
The “emergency stop” in the foreground of one of the photos isn’t too reassuring. If the rail cars overshoot the stop they end up in the river.
The uphill ride would be easier. Taking a closer look, you’ll find that the woman providing perspective in one photo doesn’t appear too thrilled at being the model in this shot.
Notice the wires looping between telephone or electric posts.
Some folks had fun on the rough ride. The photos show folks riding the rails in 1923, the year that the Hetch Hetchy Dam filled for the first time. That was in May. This photo is dated in August of that year.
Unlike the Early Intake (EI) tramway, the Hetch Hetchy tramway was a smooth incline. Look back at the EI shots and you’ll notice the slope has “ledges” at two or more intervals.