In the early 1890s, two gentlemen, professor T.S.C. Lowe and engineer D.J. Macpherson embarked on an ambitious project. They planed on building a first-class hotel 1,400 ft (427 m) above the budding city of Pasadena. The mountain they chose was at 3,200 ft (945 m) and overlooked all of Los Angeles. Transporting the formally-dressed patrons was a problem, so they designed and built a funicular that whisked guests up the steep, 62% grade track to Echo Mountain called The Great Incline. On top, a 20-room chalet, an 80-room hotel and observatory were built which earned the resort “The White City.” Click on the black & white photo taken in 1896.
From atop Echo Mountain, another train took adventurers 4 miles (6 km) up to another resort in the oak and pine forest called “Ye Alpine Tavern.” One more ridge, only ½ mile away is Inspiration Point, which I featured yesterday.
Today’s photo is what’s left of that ill-fated railroad to the sky. Sadly, a series of floods, windstorms and fires wiped out every building and much of the narrow-gauge track. Eventually, the money ran out and the desire to rebuild was thwarted by immense disappointment.
Today, however, the hotel ruins, rail beds and even a few artifacts can be seen if you have the leg power to get there. I hike these trails and ruins nearly every week with a some hiking friends. The trail heads are literally minutes from my back door.