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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Enjoying the Trip on Mt. Lowe!

Once one got to the top of Echo Mountain a person could enjoy a wonderful view of the San Gabriel Valley. Also, while up there, the tourist could enjoy a bit of a zoo, the Echo Mountain House, a casino, some gardens and an observatory. Combined, these were called the “White City on the Mountain”. On the other hand, the tourist could continue on the journey and go even higher up the set of mountains toward Mt. Lowe. Echo Mountain was about 3,200 feet above sea level; the Alpine Tavern – the destination on the rest of the journey – was at 4,420 feet above sea level. This thousand foot rise was accomplished through another trolley ride.
These post cards are pictures of the continuing trip. I have chosen these post cards because they are all from the same (divided back) era. The top card is of “Horseshoe Curve”. You can imagine how it got its name!! If you look carefully, you can see the track they were just on crossing a canyon. This trolley has just passed through the Cape of Good Hope and is headed toward the famous circular bridge (post cards to come). The middle post card is not specific about where on the line the picture was taken. You can see that there was a bit of engineering involved to keep the trolley on the side of the mountain and the electrical poles in position. The bottom post card shows one of the many bridges built to take the trolleys to the Alpine Tavern. This particular one is called the High Bridge. The backs of the post cards are interesting, too. They tell their own history.
The top two post cards were published by the Newman Post Card Company (NPC). They had office in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The top card alone was printed in Los Angeles by the Van Ornum Colorprint Company. They existed in Los Angeles between 1908 and 1921. Most of their work was printing scenes of Southern California. I bring up this point because the middle card was also published by the Newman Post Card Company. But, it was not printed by the Van Ornum Colorprint Company. It was printed in Germany. The number of the top post card (found on the back) is C8. The number of the middle card is C 26. In just a few print runs, the NPC discovered, like many publishers of post cards, that they could send their orders over to Germany and get them back – with good quality – for less than an American company would charge. This led to a glut of post cards on the market and a huge drop in prices (think tulip craze from Holland) with the resulting boon to consumers. We do not know who printed or published the bottom post card. But, we do see that the Mt. Lowe “corporation” has developed a trade mark that will appear on many, many, many post cards in the future. For more information about Mt. Lowe, check out this webite: It is a site that belongs to an organization dedicated to keeping the legacy of Mt. Lowe and Thaddeus Lowe alive.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.