Northern District

Alan Weeks at the remains of the Mount Lowe Railway, 1949

Posted on: February 22, 2014 by Pacific Electric 8 Comments
Remnants of the Mount Lowe Railway Great Incline, taken December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Mount Lowe Railway Great Incline, taken December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

When I was fifteen I hiked up this abandoned railway with two friends. Took my trusty old Box Camera. Then again my father and I hiked it in 1949. The pictures are not that great but the historic value is important.

Even ten years after abandonment many items were still there. The power house wheel, some overhead, some rail and lots of poles and ties. The U.S. Forest Service in their wisdom blew it all up because it was a so-called hazard. Then they dismantled all the wooden tressels.

Glad I got to see it. Had the Tavern not burned down it might still be running today.

Climbing straight up that steep incline was a great effort. I remember it was the day after Christmas and the temperature was 93 degrees. Lucky for us there was still fresh cool water at Echo Mountain and the Mt. Lowe Tavern.

The final four images are are not my photos but help illustrate how things were before abandonment.

- Alan Weeks

Alan Weeks Photos, Alan Weeks Collection

A view of the Mount Lowe Incline Railway from Rubio Canyon, December 26, 1947. Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

A view of the Mount Lowe Incline Railway from Rubio Canyon, December 26, 1947. Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Remnants of the Mount Lowe Railway Great Incline, taken December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Mount Lowe Railway Great Incline, taken December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Echo Mountain Power House, photographed December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Echo Mountain Power House, photographed December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Echo Mountain Power House, photographed December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Remnants of the Echo Mountain Power House, photographed December 26, 1947 by Alan Weeks.

Mount Lowe Railway right-of-way near the Circular Bridge. Photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

Mount Lowe Railway right-of-way near the Circular Bridge. Photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

Abandoned overhead near the Alpine Tavern on the Mount Lowe Railway, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

Abandoned overhead near the Alpine Tavern on the Mount Lowe Railway, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

The ruins of the Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

The ruins of the Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

Remnants of the Alpine Tavern Bridge, photographed by Alan Weeks on December 26, 1947.

Remnants of the Alpine Tavern Bridge, photographed by Alan Weeks on December 26, 1947.

Remants of the Mount Lowe Railway bridge entering into Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1947.

Remants of the Mount Lowe Railway bridge entering into Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1947.

The ruins of the Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

The ruins of the Alpine Tavern, photographed by Alan Weeks on February 22, 1949.

An 1886 view of the Mount Lowe Railway. Alan Weeks Collection.

An 1886 view of the Mount Lowe Railway. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Great Incline Railway with Echo Mountain House in the background. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Great Incline Railway with Echo Mountain House in the background. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Echo Mountain Power House. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Echo Mountain Power House. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Echo Mountain House. Alan Weeks Collection.

Historic image of the Echo Mountain House. Alan Weeks Collection.

8 Responses

  1. Ed Weiss

    February 22, 2014

    If only it could have survived! People would probably flock to it today.

    Reply
  2. David Dickinson

    February 23, 2014

    I was born in 1952. Too late to enjoy Mt. Lowe, but thank YOU for keeping this memory alive.

    Reply
  3. David ( Doc ) Rivera

    February 23, 2014

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all of these wonderful historic photographs and the insightful information accompanying them. I kook forward to visiting your pages each day with great relish. (Perhaps you might get some reciprocal pleasure from visiting my Face book page: International Independent Showmens Museum ) it has to do with the bygone days of a carnival industry in it’s golden days. It’s loaded with unique history as is your page. Once again, Thank You.
    Doc Rivera: ( I.I.S.M. Curator )

    Reply
  4. Richard Iverson

    June 23, 2014

    Really love the first few pics of the remaining ties & stringers, Powerhouse etc. The later ones are common to several publications that I have. I first explored the upper trackage in 1960 when the rails were gone but the ties & bridge abutments were still there. Foolishly, I didn’t check out the Incline until about ’63. Didn’t really know what the railroad had been all about or what was what. Couldn’t even find much on it at the Pasadena Public Library at that time. Incline was still something similar to your pics but had lost a lot of definition & metal parts by then. I recall the passing track wood was still there, all dark & tarry looking with yucca spheres growing out of it. You could even see it from down below where the tract hoses are now.

    Have been up the Incline many times since & have seen it being relentlessly devoured by the chaparral & elements. Heard the Forest “Service” blasts from school in ’59 & ’62 that took out the Powerhouse & Tavern. Each time I ascended in the sixties the fire road coming up from Millard Canyon had eaten up more of the existing, undisturbed Alpine Division road bed until it became what it is now.

    Was there at the 100th anniversary, 7/93. Came up the Incline in a dense fog to be greeted by an L. A. Times photographer who snapped me & another guy who had joined up at the start in Rubio. We got our 15 minutes of Warholian fame in the paper the next day!

    Planning to ascend the Incline on this July 4th, 2014. Hope a few others will be there. Last year I could con only one other guy from the group to go all the way up to Echo but will do it alone again if necessary.

    Thanks fo the pics,

    Richard

    Richard

    Reply
    • Matt G.

      July 1, 2014

      Hello Richard…..

      I just discovered your comment here this morning (7-1-14)…..and it just MIGHT be possible for me to join you on the hike.

      My dad and I hiked those trails and examined those ruins MANY MANY times in the early to mid-1980s.

      I have not been to the Mount Lowe area in over ten years, living in North San Diego County these days.

      Would you be willing to meet me for an adventure into the Mount Lowe area on 7-4-2014?

      I will always remember the times that my father and I used to stop off at THE HAT in Pasadena, take our excellent pastrami sandwiches with us in the car to the trail-head at Rubio Canyon…..munch them down with glass bottled Cokes, then venture into Rubio. I had to give my dad the history lesson about the Railway, he didn’t know anything about it, despite being a “train buff”…..

      My great-grandmother on my mom’s side of the family actually rode the streetcar, incline, and trek to the Alpine Tavern……she shared her memories with me before she passed in 1992.

      Please call me at: 760-741-2634 or cell: 442-222-9777

      or please e-mail me at: “crimson_king22@yahoo.com”

      Thanks!

      Matt G.

      Reply
  5. Agnus Cath

    June 26, 2014

    Great pictures!

    Reply
  6. avila avila

    December 20, 2014

    I hiked to echo mr amd to mt lowe camp at leat 65 times and can”t get enought of it since I found out about the history. Every hike I done I enjoy it because I get the feeling how it used to be when the railway was in service i”ll read all the books about mt lowe and is just facinating history and there is so much great views all along the hike…

    Reply
  7. Matthew Reiser

    December 23, 2014

    My Dad (age 44) and I (age 13) hiked down the Incline in 1978, just before the Pinecrest Fire. We saw much of the wooden ties and the three big “rail beams” before they were (reportedly) consumed by fire in the following year. I do not recall seeing the passing track, but since we had gotten (literally) side-tracked for 50% of the descent, we might have re-joined the RoW below the pass and could have missed seeing it. We did see a few metal spikes and at least one glass insulator that had helped to bring telephone service up the Incline!

    Reply

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