Considered an engineering wonder of the world during its time, 1893 - 1938, the Mt. Lowe railway was also the largest tourist attraction in California and is estimated to have carried over four million passengers.
The site of the Great Incline was where the adventure began in earnest as tourists boarded a “White Chariot” funicular to ascend 1,300 vertical feet at a 62% grade to Echo Mountain. From there they would switch cars and continue to Ye Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe where they could relax in luxury and enjoy the commanding view of the Los Angeles basin and Catalina Island, a sight rarely seen these days.
While today the Great Cable Incline is too steep and dangerous for most to follow, other trails, such as the Sam Merrill or the Chaney Trail will lead you to Echo Mountain where you can follow portions of the right-of-way on to the site of Ye Alpine Tavern site (later called the Mt. Lowe Tavern) and on to Inspiration Point and Mt. Lowe. Though most of the railway and its structures are long gone, there are several markers which identify some of the remnants of this once famous attraction.
When you reach the first location you will be at the old power house for the lower portion of the Mt. Lowe Railway. Surprisingly, there is no historical marker for this site which provided power for the electric cars traveling from here up to the Rubio Pavilion and Echo Mountain.
Also at this site from 1893-1903 was Altadena Junction, the depot where tourists would start their journey. In 1903 Henry Huntington and Pacific Electric took over the Mt. Lowe Railway and connected it with the existing Pacific Electric tracks a few blocks north of here at Mariposa Street. While this allowed passengers to travel to the Pavilion directly from downtown Los Angeles, it also eliminated the need for this passenger depot.
The existing power station here was built in 1906 and supplied power for the lower half of the Mt. Lowe railway after the destruction of the power house on Echo mountain. On December 9th 1905, a windstorm lifted the roof off of the dance pavilion on Echo Mountain and dropped it directly on top of the power house at the top of the incline. The resulting fire destroyed all the buildings on Echo mountain with the exception of the observatory.
To find your next location, subtract the number 1367 from the address of this site to complete the coordinates.
xxxx (street address of this site)
Site number two is nearby. If you want to follow the exact path of the railway see hint below.
When you reach site number two you will be at a plaque commemorating the engineer (you will need his name later) who planned and built the railway for Thaddeus Lowe. Your hints for the next location are on the granite front (south) side of this monument. DO NOT use the dates on the north side of this monument!
The text on this side of the monument contains three dates. Add the first two dates then subtract the third date from that sum. Use the first two digits of your result to complete:
Use the second two digits of the result to complete:
From the monument you can clearly see a distance of the railway right-of-way both in front and behind you. You can pass through the gate and follow the route on foot for about a quarter mile to a debris basin. At this point the actual right-of-way between the basin and site three has been overbuilt with homes. You could continue to site three on foot by following the DIRT path to the east out to the street and on, but at that point you will not be following the old route.
FYI, the monument is also the “unofficial” start of the Sam Merrill trail. To reach Echo Mountain & Mt. Lowe from here follow the right-of-way to the debris basin and look for the trail marker near the fence. The trail goes northwest around the basin to the top of Lake Ave, where most folks will start the hike to Echo Mtountain.
Site number three is a "corner" which is the start of the final stretch of right-of-way leading to the site of the old Rubio Pavilion. The trail following the old right-of-way is oddly located between two homes. If you choose to continue, the right-of-way trail will take to the site of the Rubio Pavilion at the base of the Great Cable Incline. The only remaining evidence of what had been a huge building are a few pilings that once anchored the Pavilion and the incline.
NOTE: The signs at the trail here warn that the trail in UNSAFE for hiking. Experienced hikers will have no difficulty with this trail under "normal" dry conditions. However, rainfalls can cause portions of the trail can become soft and prone to land slides. I would caution against taking small children at any time.
If you choose to continue, you can search for "Rubio Haunted Area" cache by the Ringside.
To prove you have found all the sites on this journey email me with the following:
1) The address of the power house.
2) The name of the engineer and the three dates on the granite front of the monument.
3) The name of the two streets at this "corner" and the block number for each.
Bon chance mes amis!