Sunday, January 18, 2009

Historic Mtn Railway by Foot

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.


Julie said...

What an interesting post, JT. And what aspirations those two gentlemen had. Such a shame it had to come to such a sad end. But isn't it such a thrill to be able to retrace the steps. Local history like this is just terrific. And to have it so accessible to your place ...

You know, I dont think I like that Reaction widget. It is even worse than someone saying "Wow! Great picture". And your posts deserve more consideration than that. said...

I remember my grandmother showing me one of those tourist pictures of my great grandfather at the base of the Mount Lowe funicular.
Your gutsy for putting up a rating system.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

WOW! Can you imagine staying there? How much fun would that have been! It's kind of amusing, though, to realize that fires and mudslides have always been a problem for those who try to build in the hills. Mother Nature is trying to tell us something: the hills and canyons are for recreational use only! :o)

JT said...

Okay, I removed "Reaction" request. Thank you for your response. Julie, you are a sweetheart! :)

My grandfather also used to visit the White City, but he was a kid and couldn't afford the ticket and had to hike to the top. Great memories he had! I hike Echo each Wednesday night with a group or friends. Not a night goes by that we don't wish we could have experienced the incline, the hotels and trains back in the day. We can all pretend though.