The Carter Brothers

Northern California had no shortage of home grown car builders. Most were small specialty shops, but a few had aspirations to join the big boys back east.

The most important and longest lived of the builders were the Carter Brothers, Thomas and Martin. Active from 1874 to 1902, the Carters probably built about 5,000 cars over 28 years. They specialized in narrow gauge equipment, but also built horse cars, cable cars, a few electrics, and some standard gauge equipment. Early shops were located in Monterey, Sausalito, and San Francisco. By 1877 they built what would be their final shop in Newark, California on the South Pacific Coast Railroad, less than a mile from Ardenwood Farm.

The Newark shops were located just east of the Newark station to the north of Carter Street . There were three 150' long two-bay buildings adjacent to the South Pacific Coast Railroad's backshops and roundhouse. Here the Carter's work crews of about 24 men built the cars using hand tools, muscle, and skill.

The Carter's also exported equipment as far away as Brazil and Alaska. Cars would be built and assembled in Newark; painted and then carefully disassembled; shipped to the destination and then reassembled by workers sent along with the 'kits'.

Thomas Carter was the businessman, he maintained offices on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Martin Carter ran the shops in Newark and lived locally.