Inspiration Point


Inspiration Point


By Jack Chang - Staff Writer, Pasadena Star News - July, 1996

Angeles National Forest - Homer "Silky" Griffith first visited Mt. Lowe above the Altadena foothills as an 11-year-old boy.    
    He rode the Mt Lowe railway 15 miles up to the Alpine Tavern and gazed out over the orange groves and poppy fields of the San Gabriel Valley from the Ramada observation deck at Inspiration Point.  That was in 1925

    "It was so clear and primitive in these parts back then," Griffith, 82, said.  "I came up just once when I was 11, but I still remember it well."

    Today, Griffith and 30 other volunteers are helping to document and slowly rebuild what volunteer Paul Ayers called "the first amusement park," which included hotels, a tavern, a zoo and a trolley system built at the turn-of-the-century among the peaks and valleys of the San Gabriel Mountains.

    Due to floods, fires and the Great Depression, all that is left of those amusements, perched some 4,400 feet above sea level, are a few stone foundations, the occasional metal sign and a lot of memories.

    By fall, however, one attraction, the Ramada observation deck, will return from the past after a half a year of work by volunteers from the Scenic Mt. Lowe Historical Committee.

    On Saturday, about a dozen volunteers hammered and drilled in the summer sun to finish the Ramada's roof.  A few mountain bikers who had conquered the five-mile trek up to Inspiration Point stopped in the deck's shade for rest.

    "This is Southern California history, and it's not to be thrown away like a paper cup," said Ayers, a resident of Glendale.  "What (park founder) Thaddeus Lowe did here was beautiful by just bringing people up and showing them the nature that existed here."

    Brian Marcroft, of Norwalk, said the Scenic Mt Lowe Historical Committee was formed in 1991 after a group of regular Mt. Lowe hikers decided to help preserve what they saw as an important piece of California history.

    "I've been hiking this mountain since the 1970's, and I kind of got hooked on it," he said.  The biggest challenge to building the pavilion was moving lumber and tools up the mountain on a narrow, winding road that is open only to hikers and mountain bikers, he said.

    Without heavy machinery, volunteers had to lift 300-pound roof beams and supports by their own strength.
    "I'm into this now for the engineering challenge of doing this all by hand," he said.

    For now, he said, the Committee is not planning on rebuilding the rest of the Mt Lowe buildings.

    Leaning against a bench in the shade of the nearly completed Ramada, he said, "But I never thought that this part would happen."