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About the Photos

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 • BRIDGE AT ARGENTEUIL, 1874

Ye Alpine Tavern: 1913

Ye Alpine Tavern: 1913

Mount Lowe, California, circa 1913. "Ye Alpine Tavern on Mount Lowe Railway line." Our second look at this mile-high Swiss-style chalet that was the end of the line for passengers of the Mount Lowe scenic railway. As we saw in the video clip accompanying the previous post, excursionists got a spectacular ride for their fare (which in the railway's opening year of 1893 was a hefty $5). 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size | Continue reading

Postscript: There's at least one other high-resolution view of the railway in the Library of Congress archive, for a total of three images, and there could be more to come. Although they were taken a century ago, they are in effect "new," having been digitized in April 2010 and put online in the past few weeks or months. Up until recent years or months most of these Detroit Publishing images have been effectively invisible for the better part of a century, existing only as negatives or as colored postcard views, which are something like low-resolution cartoons. Large-format prints, which were part of the Detroit Publishing business, have not survived in large numbers or were never made in the first place. It's only now, for the first time, that people are able to experience these views in the great detail afforded by the 8x10 inch glass negative format, thanks to digital technology, which lets us get a positive image of the negative without making a photographic print on paper in the darkroom, which is where a lot of detail gets lost. So the view you see on your video display right now on Shorpy is, for many if not most of these images, their much-delayed mass-audience high-definition premiere.

 

Topless Tavern

At the base of the mountain sat Mount Lowe military Academy, where my father was a cadet in the 1940s. On their alumni website, a classmate has left this photo of the ruins.

I wish the tavern was still there.

The hike along this route is one of my favorite in the L.A. area. There are signposts along the route giving a little history of the railway. The cuts through the granite as seen in the video clip are of course still there (minus the rail tracks) and look very familiar. It's a tough but rewarding hike that's quite accessible. The tavern would be a very welcoming stop if it was still there although my hike would probably end at that point (hic).

Ye Alpine Postcard

More here.

Local and Long Distance!

All this and a Bell Telephone! Would there be anything BUT "long distance" from this outpost?

It is SO gratifying to see these hi-res pictures. I've been fascinated by the Mount Lowe Railway for most of my life, but as noted, prior published pictures lacked detail.

Yesterday's Future

Surprising how modern this building looks, but then we've been seeing echoes of its design for the past hundred years. There's a timelessness to those tapered columns, the wall of glass and the strong horizontals of the deck.Good design doesn't go out of style -- that's why we still see Art & Crafts and Mission styles in our furniture, and some of us still build similar designs.

Steve "Old Dusty" Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

Stunning

I love opening these up, a great present. How good would the prints look when they made them?

[That's a good question. I should look for one on eBay. - Dave]

 
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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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