Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hike 2014.039 -- Lowe Observatory from Lake Avenue

Hiked Friday, July 18. I really should be more caught up on my blogging, given that I'm not hiking that much. This'll be a short-ish one.

Obviously, I've hiked to Echo Mountain and "The White City" many, many times over the years (most recently a few months ago). Usually, the White City is the goal; today, the Lowe Observatory pillar was the goal.
A friend had posted to facebook a picture of another friend standing atop the pillar. It had never occurred to me to try to stand on the pillar, but I decided I would have to return and see if it was feasible. The answer was, "Not for you, fatso!"

The pillar has plenty of grips (although climbing up there undoubtedly speeds erosion), but it would require a level of strength, dexterity, and fearlessness that I do not possess. So I satisfied myself with more pictures of the object, from afar.

Lowe Observatory was part of Dr. Thaddeus Lowe's mountain development from back near the turn of the 20th Century. To put this in context, after some massive forest wildfires of the 1870s and on forward, and after the Census Bureau announced the closure of the frontier with the 1890 Census, there was an upsurge in hiking and the seeking of things wild by Americas. This would be the time following the creation of our nation's first national parks, and of "progressive conservation" promoted by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, the fears of a "timber famine," the passage of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, and of Thoreau's Walden Pond.

Folks were convinced that America was losing something, and we had to return to "nature" to get that back. Anyway, a whole series of mountain resorts above and around Los Angeles sprang up, and this was one of them. You rode a cable car right out of Rubio Canyon and to the White City, and maybe then continued up a bit to visit the Lowe Observatory, which housed a 16" refracting telescope. By contrast, the Griffith Observatory's dome houses a 12" refracting telescope.

All of this burned in a series of fires, then The Great Depression drove the final nail in the coffin. Today, only concrete foundations, walls, stairs, and pillars remain of the first time America tried to "get back to nature."

The clouds were pretty nifty last night, and the sunset would have been great. However, I was too hungry to stick around, and, as if to completely eliminate the temptation, my camera battery died. So no spectacular sunset pictures with this post!

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