Echo at the top of the Incline, January 1909

From the collection of Tina Mendez comes this stunning image of a large group of riders on the Echo incline car, poised at the top of the incline for a photograph, January 1909.

Some time after Henry Huntington purchased the Mount Lowe Railway out of receivership and put it into his Pacific Electric Railway holdings, the incline cars, which had traditionally been painted white, were painted PE red. This didn’t last very long because the once famous incline cars could not been seen from the valley below due to their new, darker color. The car shown is the older style “opera car” reminiscent of box seats at the opera. The signage added on the steps to the once famous Echo Mountain House proclaimed the Pacific Electric Railway ownership, which was a great marketing move since all the souvenir photos, then taken by PE photographer Charles Lawrence, included this signage. The opera cars, of which there were three (Echo, Rubio and Alpine), were once again painted white so the folks in the valley below might be curious enough to go to the foot of the mountain and pay for a ride. Each opera car held 30 passengers and when the winding station, mistakenly called the Power House by some, was burned to the ground the opera cars were rebuilt by the PE. The newer versions, same three car names, had a removable wooden canopy to enclose the passengers riding on the top tier of the car.

Tina Mendez Collection, used with permission

2 Comments on “Echo at the top of the Incline, January 1909

  1. It was the Power House. Just as electric motors powered the streetcars, the motor in the power house powered the cable attached to the incline cars. It was no less a power house because the electricity was generated elsewhere.

  2. Initially, it had it’s own generator at the top which is why it was called that. After high winds and a fire in 1905 I believe, the gas powered generator was removed and power came from the substation on North Lake Ave.

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