The first street railway company to operate in Sioux City was the The Sioux City Street Railway Company. The company was started by a group headed by Fred Evans, but it was bought out by James and Frank Peavey in 1888.
The line began with five "bob-tailed", one horse cars. Bob-tailed cars were extra-light, single horse cars. They were meant for small cities and could be operated with a crew of just one man. At the end of the line, the horse was unhitched and then hitched to the other end of the car for the return trip. Beginning July 1, 1884, citizens could take a five cent ride in a horse-drawn street car from Fourth and Court to West Seventh and Panoah Streets. The little wooden street cars had just five windows on each side and were painted green.
By April of 1890, the street car system was electrified and the first electric trolleys were running in Sioux City. By 1891, the line had sixteen miles of electric road and sixty-six "splendid cars", including open or summer cars.
Meanwhile, John Peirce, D.T. Hedges and other local promoters organized the Sioux City Cable Railway Company to bring a cable car line to the hilly suburbs of northern Jackson Street. They hoped that by bringing convenient transportation to the area, they could develop it into a prime residential area. Construction of the line began in 1888 and the first cars ran on May 30, 1889. The cable car line ran from Third and Jackson to the Peirce home at 29th and Jackson. It was later extended to 41st and Jackson. It also extended from Third and Jackson west to Water Street.
Midway along the line, at 29th and Jones, a two-story brick building served as car barn, powerhouse and shop. Generators in the building propelled the endless cable than ran in a slot between the rails. The cable car conductor operated a clutch that extended into the slot to grab the moving cable. The cable car was then pulled along until the conductor disengaged the clutch and braked the car to a stop. Sometimes naughty boys would inflate a paper bag, tie it to a string, and let the string be caught up in the moving cable. The bag would move up the street, frightening horses and pedestrians.
The cable line was electrified in 1894 and eventually became part of Sioux City's streetcar system. The only trace left of the old cable car line is the pile of cinders near Hubbard Park at 29th and Jones.
Streetcar lines continued to grow. By 1892, five street car lines were running in Sioux City in direct competition with one another, not counting the elevated railway and cable line. The Riverside Line was a popular ride for passengers headed for the activities around Riverside Park. On summer weekends, the open cars had standing room only.