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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Twins, but not Identical

These two post cards have the exact same picture on their fronts. This isn’t a matter of copyright infringement; they were both published by the same company. On the way from Echo Mountain to the Alpine Tavern the trolley had to make a turn around the top of a smaller mountain top. As the builders rounded the corner, they ran into a very large vein of granite. There was only one way to get to the other side. They blasted the granite with dynamite. To help put this work into perspective, it took the team eight months to get through to the other side. See:
What you are looking at in these two pictures is the successful result. It is known as the “Granite Gate”. Both cards label it as such and tell us that it is part of the “Alpine Extension”, what Thaddeus Lowe called the trolley line that ran from his settlement at Echo Mountain to the new Alpine Tavern. The post card on the left tells us that it was published by M. Rieder of Los Angeles, it is card No. 3042, and it was made in Germany. Someone has written on it “Ostrich Farm Nov. 1904”. The post card on the right only tells us that it is a picture of the “Granite Gate, Alpine Extension, Mt. Lowe Rd.” I have to admit that this card seems to have a sharper picture than the first. Printing techniques seem to have improved through the eight years between printings.
The back of the top card, which is the left card above, shows us that this comes from before March 1, 1907. The back has the clear message, “THIS SIDE IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE ADDRESS.” It also has the fact that it was made in Germany printed on the left side. We can believe that the date written on the front is a legitimate date of the card’s existence because it was printed before 1907. The right-hand card is from the “divided back” era. It tells us that the right half of the card is for the address only and the left side is for correspondence. The left also tells us the M. Reider of Los Angeles was the publisher who had it printed in Germany. This card is also numbered No. 3042. At the bottom someone has used a rubber stamp with the rotating dates to stamp “MAR 27 1912” in burgundy ink. An interesting observation about this card is that in the box for the stamp, there is, not only the postage rates, but upside on the top is the number “No. 14568”. I have no idea what that could be. If any of you know, please share the information with us.


  1. One could not be afraid of heights to build such track. I suppose a train operator could close their eyes in the scary bits and the tracks will lead them to safety. ;)

  2. Yes; I agree that this had to be a dizzying experience. I have an even better example of heights coming up later this month.


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