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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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King of the Hill: 1913

King of the Hill: 1913

Mount Lowe, California, circa 1913. "Powerhouse and incline station, Mount Lowe Railway." Our third look at the workings of this scenic railway (First, Second) in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles. View full size.

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Circular Bridge

Look on the hillside behind and to the left of the searchlight and you can see where the narrower gauge trolley line went on up the hill. That was quite the resort in those days.


To the left rear of the Powerhouse, at the front of the line of extra trolley cars, is the tower car for repairing the overhead wire. It survived the fire and vandalism after the end of service, so that a souvenir collector could put it in his back yard. I wonder if it still exits today. In the background, you can trace a lot of the mountain trolley line, including the Circular Bridge.

Familiar appearing, isn't it?

It looks like the prototype for 'Taco Bell'.

The Light

My grandmother lived with her sister in Pasadena in the 1920s and told me about how that they used to sweep that light around at night. Sometimes down into Pasadena, much to the annoyance of the people who's houses were illuminated. Probably light like the night sun on a police helicopter sweeping across your house today. She was surprised when I moved out here in 1980 that the whole Mt Lowe was gone, it was a nice weekend day trip when she was young.

I see him !

He must think he is steering a ship, some searchlight.

Bright light

My grandparents, who lived in Hollywood during the 1930s, said that the beam of light from the Mt. Lowe searchlight could plainly be seen from their favorite vacation getaway Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, at least 20 miles out to sea. Several Richfield Oil Company service stations along the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California also had big searchlights which served as navigational beacons for airplanes.


That's some searchlight on top of that station!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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