Monday, March 19, 2007

Mt. Lowe / Ye Alpine Tavern

My son Dax (10) graduated Webelos and officially became a Boy Scout- Good job Dax! For his first ever overnight hike, the troop (troop 888 Castaic) took a 6 mile hike (3 miles in, 3 miles out) to the historic Mt. Lowe, Ye Alpine Tavern site. Dax did great considering that his backpack about doubled his size!

It amazes me some of the things Los Angeles used to have that doesn't exist anymore. The old Mt. Lowe Scenic Railway is one of them. At one time this was California's most popular tourist destination!

Built between 1892 and 1895, Tourist would take the electric cars from Los Angeles, through Pasadena up to Rubio Canyon to the Rubio Pavilion:

There, riders could transfer to a 3000 foot long incline railway that took them to the top of Echo Mountain that offered spectacular views of Pasadena, Los Angeles, Long Beach and as far away as Catalina Island.

The top of Echo Mountain included a Hotel, Observatory and a Zoo. There passengers could transfer to smaller electric trolleys for a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century version of a "drive in the mountains", to the Tavern.

The Tavern was first class all the way, with luxurious rooms and bungalows, fine dining, an Orchestra and Ballroom, a post office, a circulating library, tennis courts, horseback riding to Mt Wilson, electricity, and a phonograph and radio! all in an Alpine setting.

The Echo Mountain facilities burned in 1905 and the Tavern burned in 1938. In the 1950s the ruins were dynamited by the U.S. Forestry Service to create todays Mt. Lowe campsite. Here the boys stand were the Tavern used to stand.
The old trolley grade makes for easy hiking today.

Part of the trail took us through this short tunnel.

The tent on the lower right is set up on the old trolley track bed, the backpacks and hat are on the old curving platform. Dax set up his tent (the big blue tent on the upper right) about where the crowd of people are standing in the photo below.

Ah, those were the days!

That was an excellent first hike. The boys had a great time. And I had a blast retracing old California history!

A clear, crisp day up here, an overcast, smoggy day down below. (Click pics to enlarge).
For more information about historic Mt. Lowe, visit:

Mission Statement

Howdy Folks!

I'm not a Disney Imagineer... not yet anyway. But it is on my lifetime to-do list. Ever since I was a child I have been a big fan of Disney. Fortunatly I learned early on that the best way to work for Disneyland is not to work at Disneyland, but rather go out into the world, collect ideas and inspirations to bring back to Disneyland. My hero is John Olson. In the 1970s John (among others who deserve credit) went to the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, and brought it back to Disneyland as the “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad”. That's what I want to do!

That brings me to Disney's “California Adventure”. It's a disaster. It would have worked better as a “land” (Frontierland, Fantasyland, Californialand...) than an entire theme park. But there it is. What's to be done? Well... Maybe I can do something.

So I started this blog so that you can follow the exploits of this Cartoon Animator, Model Railroader/Railfan, Surfer, Gamer, History Buff, Aerospace Engineering Illustrator, Former Boy Scout, Son of a "Rocket Scientist", and Father of a family of 5, as I drag my family around this great state of our as we (as the great Huell Howser puts it) “search for California's gold”, to maybe someday bring back to Disneyland and hopefully entertain and inspire generations to come.

Maybe I'll win, maybe I'll fail miserably. But goll-darn-it! I'm gonna have FUN doing it, even if it kills me! California- here I come...


P.S. Don't be shy, your comments are welcome!