.. Winter
Echo Mtn. Echoes Volume 3..

Professor T.S.C. Lowe and his Mountain Observatory

By Paul Rippens

The world famous Lowe Observatory atop Echo Mountain

Millions of Americans have long had a fascination with our solar system.. One of the early Americans who became infatuated with the heavens was Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe. Lowe, who is best remembered for his Civil War exploits, creating the World’s first military air force. He sold his "Balloon Corps" idea to President Abraham Lincoln, and made a number of successful balloon flights over northern Virginia, observing Confederate lines for the Union Army.

Lowe’s own memoirs tell how he "would lie in a field or sit astride a picket fence, gazing for hours at the great white clouds hanging like banners or floating slowly across the skies." These observations would one day help him in his ballooning and aerial navigation. Lowe stated that "from living in high altitudes, I had observed that there are often very different air currents in the valleys from those which exist in the upper atmosphere." What Lowe was observing were the jet streams that moved the clouds across the skies.



Edgar Lucien Larkin
Jake Brouwer

Edgar Lucien Larkin
1847 to 1925

A volume alone could be written on the history of the Mt. Lowe Observatory and the astronomical discoveries of the skies recorded by it’s various learned astronomers. But that volume has yet to be written. Perhaps one day of student of not only the stars but of the mind and its expanding contents will set forth upon Echo Mountain following in the footsteps of one Professor Edgar Lucian Larkin and bring forth this volume.

On this day, alone on the mountain in the shadow of the obelisk, and by night in under the ever-twinkling stars, a lone writer with laptop in hand will relish the tranquility of the mountain and the heavens as they merge nightly. Slowly an understanding will be put forth in words as it has been before on this mount. Perhaps this new volume of understanding and studies of the life and the Observatory will come forth and leave future generations remarking what a wonderful time this 1999 must have been to have moved one to write such a piece.



Navigation Through The Angeles National Forest

By Christopher Nyerges

Generally speaking, you won’t be walking in many straight lines in the Angeles National Forest. Your best bet is to study the maps, and then stay on existing trails. The trails are usually the easiest route from one site to another, though not necessarily the shortest route "as the crow flies." These "easier" routes tend to meander around hills and through canyons, giving you the least elevation gain from point to point.


There are many natural observations that we can make in the Angeles National Forest which help us determine direction. However, one can't rely on just one of these signs because there are always local exceptions to the general rules.

For example, we've all heard that moss grows on the north side of trees, right? But is that a fact? When I was in high school, I took a few backpacking classes conducted by Abby Keith of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team.. He would tell us, "Yes, moss grows on the north sides of trees .... and the east side, and the west side, and the south side." We'd all laugh, and he would point out that in a dense forest, moss can grow entirely around a tree, and that the value of moss as a direction finder is very limited. Keith would say, however, that if you are looking at a pine tree with moss on one side, in a clearing, in California, then the moss is probably on the north half of the tree.



Dr. Lewis Swift

By Michael Patris

Huge obstacles in life many times will make persistent individuals hugely successful in their field of endeavors – and such was the case of Lewis Swift.

Doctor Lewis Swift Director of the Lowe observatory.

Injured by a fall as a teen which fractured his hip, this once active child was considered useless or "lame" by his parents since he couldn’t work a 12 to 15 hour day on the family farm in Monroe County, New York.

Swift’s "opportunity" came when he was allowed to attend school, which he did, by hobbling on crutches two miles each way, carrying his book, to a small academy in nearby Clarkston. It was here at 13 years of age that science and particularly astronomy whetted his appetite to explore the heavens. At this time he witnessed the Great Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833.

Some ten years later the heavens still held his attention and about that time he witnessed the "Great Comet of 1843." After reading as many books as he could find on astronomy, it wasn’t until 1860 when he could purchase his first telescope – a 4 " refractor form fellow New Yorker Henry Fitz.


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Well here we are completing our 3rd year of Echo Mtn. Echoes. Time really does fly when you’re having fun researching and working with a subject you love.

About 2/3’s of our 137 subscribers are due for renewal after this issue and I hope we have again given you a product you enjoy enough to renew. If you have a friend that may enjoy a copy let us know.


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Last modified: February 12, 1999

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Jake Brouwer
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Copyright 1999

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