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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Final Views of the Circular Bridge

These two post cards are two different views of the same bridge. It is the Circular Bridge that was built to take tourists from Echo Mountain House at the top of the Incline to the Alpine Tavern. The journey was three and half miles long. As is illustrated by the Circular Bridge, the longest straight part of the railway was only 225 feet long; there were 127 curves in the line. That means that approximately every 145 feet there was another curve to negotiate. Construction on the Alpine Section (as it was known) of the railway began in 1894. The tavern at the end of the line opened the next year. See:
This picture, above, is looking down toward the Circular Bridge as the trolley car meanders its way up the hill toward the Alpine Tavern. We can see by the form of this trolley car that this picture was taken prior to 1902. That is the year that the Pacific Electric Railway took control of the Mt. Lowe railway. It is very much an open air car with people facing sideways. It is not as primitive as the type of trolley car that preceded this one. Some of my previous blog posts talk about the various types of trolley cars. The title on the card says, “Car on Circular Bridge, Mt. Lowe, Cal.”
This post card above shows the circular bridge from below. The person taking this picture is on the side of the tracks that come from Echo Mountain House on the way to the Alpine Tavern. The top of Echo Mountain is 3,200 feet above sea level. The Alpine Tavern was at an elevation of 4,420 feet. In three and half mines the trolley took the tourist 1,220 feet higher into the mountains. This means that the average grade of the trip to the Alpine Tavern was 6.6%. Overall this is not the best grade for a railroad (today they prefer nothing more than 3%) and as you can see from this post card, some of the railway was much steeper than other parts. The Circular Bridge itself was easy because it only had a grade of 4.5%. As you can see by the form of the trolley car, this picture was taken after the Pacific Electric Railway purchased the railway. The title on the post card reads, “Circular Bridge, Mt. Lowe Cal. Elev., 4200 Feet”. This post card is the younger of the two. The only thing that I can figure out about the publisher or publishing date is that it comes from the Divided Back Era; so, it is from between approximately 1907 and 1915. This is what its back looks like (as you can see, the logo has been developed for Mt. Lowe):
This post card back, below, belongs to the first picture, above. It is from the Divided Back era, too. I can tell you a bit about the publishing company thanks to the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City. They have a great website:
This post card is published by the Paul C. Koeber Co. of New York City and Kirchheim, Germany. This means that the publisher was from the United States but the card was printed in Germany. The Germans were very good at printing post cards because they had developed some great technology. The Paul C. Koeber Company lasted from 1900 to 1923. The top middle of the post card back is a picture of a peacock in full tail array with “THE PCK” right in the middle of the feathers and the word “SERIES” is printed below the peacock’s feet.

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