Mt. Lowe Family Album
First Hand Mt. Lowe Memories

By
Michael Patris

Leroy McVey at the Echo Phone
Photo courtesy Vic McVery

There are but a handful of people still around who can share a real life experience from the Great Incline At Mount Lowe – and fewer still, who can open a family album saying "I remember when."

One such individual is Vic McVey; a fellow Mt. Lowe enthusiast and collector. Born in the early 1920’s, Vic and his siblings were raised in Eagle rock and spent many happy hours hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains with mom and dad. Vic says his parents used to hike even before they were married because, " Face it" he says, "nobody had any money back then."

Even before opening the family album, Vic remembered trips to Olvera Street in Los Angeles to buy tortillas. Upon returning home in the evening McVey says he recalls lights strung along the Incline Pathway so people in the San Gabriel valley below could trace the route of the tiny opera cars at night.

Leroy McVey holds a rattlesnake at the top of the Great Incline in the late 1930's.
Photo courtesy Vic McVey

Although Vic never rode the incline during its operational years, he and his family members spent many memorable visits in and around Echo Mountain, Crystal Springs, and Alpine Tavern. Much of this was done during his high school years while attending Cathedral High school in Los Angeles.

The four McVey children shared many group activities but only Vic has kept the love for the Incline and surrounding areas. His brother Phillip passed away in the mid 1980’s, sister Lois just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary, and John (who goes by Steve) still works side by side with Vic in the family hardware business in Temple City.

Upon opening the family album such wonderful photos of Vic’s dad Leroy McVey shouting through the Echo Phone and another of him holding a rattlesnake at the top of the Incline can be seen.

Phillip, John (Steve), Vic, and Lois McVey atop the Powerhouse on Echo Mountain in 1939. What a great shot and what memories it holds.
Photo courtesy Vic McVery

Another photo shows the senior McVey spying on Los Angeles through the viewing tubes at inspiration point. One favorite and unique photo is one of Vic McVey sitting inside the remains of the shell of the 3,000,000 candlepower searchlight atop the powerhouse at Echo Mountain!

Probably nobody else can show a photo of himself sitting there!

Vic McVey still gets up on the mountain occasionally, like when the 100th anniversary of the inaugural running of the Incline came around July 4, 1993. But he still asks himself some of the same questions most Mt. Lowe enthusiasts do – "why didn’t they ever rebuild it?" and "why did the Forest Service have to blow it up?"

All Mt. Lowe lovers have their own answers, but few have the photos and memories of Vic McVey.


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Last modified: February 12, 1999

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Jake Brouwer
All articles and photos were provided by:
Land-Sea Discovery Group
Copyright 1999