Mount Lowe Railway


Michael A. Patris


“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 and Pasadena in Los Angeles County, 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 snow capped 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 these vintage photographs.