Opened with great fanfare on July 4, 1893, the Mount Lowe Incline Railway was hailed as Earth's Grandest Mountain Ride. Built by Civil War balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe and railroad engineer David J. Macpherson in the mountains above Altadena, this funicular was operated for 43 years and served nearly four million passengers from around the world. Where else could one find four hotels, an observatory, the world's largest searchlight, a dance hall, miniature golf, a zoo, horseback riding, tennis, and snowcapped peaks, all within a day's journey from the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles? The San Gabriel Mountains continue to be a great natural resource and recreational escape for many Angelenos, but the spectacular railway lives on only in the vintage photographs.
Author Michael A. Patris is a third generation native of Los Angeles. He is the founder of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society, Inc., a California nonprofit educational corporation whose archives contain thousands of photographs, ephemera, and souvenirs. All of the images contained in his book come from the society's archives.
Aim your trolley for the Barth Community Room at Crowell Library for a fascinating hour of local history.