Angels Flight

Angels Flight, reputed to be the world’s smallest railway, is a funicular railway originally opened on Bunker Hill in 1901. The two railcars, Olivet and Sinai (named for two mountains in the Bible) served to connect upscale Bunker Hill homes with downtown shopping areas below. With the deterioration of Bunker Hill after World War Two, Angels Flight was dismantled and placed in storage in 1969 as part of an urban renewal project. The Community Redevelopment Agency promised to reassemble and reopen the historical line elsewhere within a few years. This promise was not fulfilled, however, until much later with the reopening of the railway on February 24, 1996. The resurrected Olivet and Sinai provided 60,000 passengers per month with a nostalgic one minute, 298-foot ride. Prior to being reopened to the public, the cars were each put through 9,000 pound weight safety tests. The 9,000 pounds were a load of donated cases of Snapple and Budweiser.

On February 1, 2001, one of the two Angels Flight cable cars became detached from its cable and hurtled down the tracks to collide with its sister car. Sadly, 83-year-old tourist Leon Praport died from his injuries sustained in the accident and his wife Lola was critically injured. Seven other passengers were injured. Praport, a New Jersey resident, was a Holocaust survivor. Angels Flight was been closed since that fateful day. The only other injuries on record was to a women in 1913 who jumped from one of the moving cars and (although unverified and undated) the death of a drunken sailor who, it was reported, attempted to climb the track and was crushed by a railcar.

On March 15, 2010, with new safety features and considerable testing, Angels Flight again returned to operation.

A little more than three years later, on September 5, 2013, one of the cars derailed midway along the rail. No passengers were injured, however, they had to be rescued by firefighters. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified safety problems with its brake system and a design problem between its car body and wheel axle. As a result, Angel's Flight was again closed until these problems are resolved.