Mount Lowe Trackage After Abandonment

Harold F. Stewart Photo, Stan Kistler Collection

Harold F. Stewart Photo, Stan Kistler Collection

Mount Lowe trackage is captured after abandonment by Harold F. Stewart in February of 1938.
Harold F. Stewart Photo, Stan Kistler Collection

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  • duncan still

    This photo caught my curiosity since it shows either a spur or passing siding on the narrow gauge trackage. Given the narrow width of the shelf on which the track resided, I didn’t think there was room for any extra trackage. I reviewed the track diagrams in Charles Seims Mt. Lowe Railway book and discovered that there was a spur just below circular bridge. By below the bridge, I mean about several hundred feet before reaching circular bridge.

  • Lawrence Hersh


    I don’t see a frog right after the points.
    Notice the four rails in foreground, two on each side, perhaps placed about three to four inches apart from one another after points.
    The “frog” was further up in the area of the siding. This I find unusual.
    I believe this was done to preserve grade space before the passing tracks…a more gradual approach to siding “frogs” instead of a sharper left hand turnout.
    This is one of the many interesting photos on behalf of Howard Stewart.

  • Matt G.

    wow! this is a very interesting snapshot you have here.

    Many years ago (early-80s) I used to sit and study the diagrams made by Seims which showed EVERY SINGLE INCH of trackage….and there is that siding that is in his book! NEAT!

    Also, you can tell by looking at the status of the rails, ties, and rail-bed surrounding them, that by the end, the Mount Lowe Railway was already in pretty bad shape, looking like it was largely non-maintained…….forgetting about the rain washouts of course! Too bad! What an engineering marvel that was!

  • Richard Iverson

    Not to be too nettlesome but I think that the roadbed construction was very standard by the 1890’s & what was done by McPherson & Lowe paled in comparison to the bridgework & tunneling that the railroads had accomplished in crossing the Sierra Nevada, Rockies etc., decades before. Beware the technical conclusions of lawyers who write books about railroads as to what constitutes an “engineering marvel”! I still think the Seims book is the general bible on Mt. Lowe though & is very good about related fiduciary, personal & historical narratives.

    What was exceptional, cutting edge & worthy of praise was the electrical design & implementation that the electrical engineer A. W. Decker provided to the project. He explored the possibility that native water, collected & stored at Echo could power the Incline if not the entire road. He was proved wrong only by the drastic decrease in local rainfall & the disputes over water rights in the area. He designed the winding plant at Echo as well as the electrical signaling system used by conductors on the Incline cars. He is credited with other very significant electrical engineering projects in the So Cal area. His contributions & better technical data on the electrical operation of the Mt.Lowe RR are much more thoroughly documented in “Mt. Lowe Power”, a short, pithy book by John Harrigan about how it really operated over its lengthy existence.

    Richard Iverson

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