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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The End of the Line

These next few post cards aren't really train post cards. However, they are all related to the last many blogs that I have posted in the last couple of months. They are the reasons that many of the tourists went up Echo Mountain. I am sure that some of them just stayed at the Echo Mountain House and looked around while others went on to the Alpine Tavern. If any of them were like me, they simply went up the mountain because it was another train ride that they had not taken and just had to do so.
This is a picture of the power station that produced all the electricity needed for the complex set of tracks and buildings along the Mt. Lowe Railway. It sat on top of Echo Mountain. In this picture you can clearly see that there is a searchlight on top of the building. It was a very powerful searchlight. It could be seen for up to 100 miles. In order to achieve this the light source was rated at 3 MILLION CANDLEPOWER!! The lens was five feet in diameter and the curve of the lens was such that it was three and a quarter inches thick at the edges and only a sixteenth of an inch in the center. It weighed 1,600 pounds. This picture has a man standing next to it on the roof of the building. People in the valley used to complain to the Mt. Lowe Railway about the power of the light in their houses while they were trying to sleep.
To the left of the searchlight and way in the background you can see the observatory that was built on the top of an adjoining hill. Lewis Swift was the first curator of the observatory. This is the same Lewis Swift that discovered the Swift-Tuttle Comet. He stayed there until he retired. Eventually, the observatory was destroyed in a major, major storm. Swift' successor barely escaped with his life. Not only was there a powerhouse and an observatory, there was a zoo at Echo Mountain. But as one went farther up the mountains to the Alpine Tavern, one could meet Romeo. This post card shows us who Romeo was: a black bear. Hmmmm... I wonder if this is how the Mt. Lowe logo on the backs of many of the post cards in my collection was designed.
This post card shows what the tourist first saw as he or she approached the Alpine Tavern on the trolley. This post card is from Feb 4, 1904. It is one of the oldest cards in my collection. You can see that the Tavern was set in a very beautiful, treed area with plenty of shade for the summer and a stack of firewood for the winter. The post cards below show the exterior of the Alpine Tavern and "The Great Fireplace" where the firewood was well used.
These two post cards are also very good examples of why people went to the Alpine Tavern. The message on the back of the top card reads like this: "Well, at last, after 25 years I have at last seen snow and thrown snowballs. Some class! --- Mena" It is dated February 22, 1915. She must have take the George Washington Birthday Holiday and gone to the top!! The bottom picture is from a post card of the White Border Era, but the caption tells us that the picture itself is copyrighted by the Detroit Photographic Company from 1904. This last picture is what the residents in the San Gabriel Valley saw as they looked up toward the mountains that surround the Los Angeles basin. This is a picture on the post card from September 13, 1917. This particular shot is from Pasadena, California. I was in Los Angeles last year for my sister's graduation from college and as I drove across the freeway at the base of these mountains, I think that I saw what is left of the scar on the side of the mountain that was made by the Mt. Lowe Railway.
With this picture I will move on from California and Mt. Lowe for now. I have 82 post cards around the theme of Mt. Lowe. You don't need to see all of them, I am sure. I think I will go to Canada for my next set of post card blogs. See you there!!

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