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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

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.

 

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.

Survivor

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.

Searchlights

They were all the rage, at least in my corner of the world, after WWII. Maybe they were surplus and just plentiful. But every store having a big sale, every drive-in theater, and many auto dealers, used them routinely to attract customers.

I was forever in awe of the intense blue-white beam blazing up into the sky when Dad would drive us by one of them. At one point, being the guy who struck the arc and operated the gearshift levers was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

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.

WOW!

That's some searchlight on top of that station!

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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