Sunday, June 14, 2009

William Clift (1831-1900) - Businessman



[Photo of Clift Family Mausoleum by Michael Colbruno; photo of railway from SF Cable Car Museum]

William Clift, was born in England on Oct 25, 1831.

Clift made his fortune as an investor in the mines of California and Nevada. He owned one-third of the Hueston Hill Mine in Nevada, which yielded valuable amounts of gold. He also owned an interest in the Boston Ravine Flat north of Grass Valley.

He later became the President of the Presidio and Ferries Railroad in San Francisco, succeeding the legendary Andrew Hallidie. The company’s lines ran primarily on Union Street, covering roughly two miles of track. However, they were most famous for being the first line to climb Russian Hill. Presidio and Ferries Railroad was originally horse powered, but switched to electricity after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

One of the company’s lines was unique in that it combined horse power, steam power and cable power, the three modes of transportation known at the time.

Clift also served on the Board of Directors of the Oakland Bank of Savings.

He died of stomach cancer in 1900.

The question often gets asked on docent tours if William Clift founded the Clift Hotel in San Francisco. The famous hotel was founded by his son Frederick Clift, who died in Santa Barbara.

Also buried in the Clift Family Mausoleum is Irving Lundborg, who founded the brokerage firm Irving Lundborg & Co., which later became UBS Paine Webber.

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