The Los Angeles-Mt. Washington Railway

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Bob Taylor Properties, Inc.

The Los Angeles-Mt. Washington Railway is no more; but it played a role in the history of Highland Park and Mt. Washington and deserves mention here.

The railway operated over a distance of 2,900 feet, pulled by a cable under wood planking and was created as a gimmick to stimulate land sales for the Mt. Washington Development Company.

The powerhouse for the incline railway was located on the grounds of the Mt. Washington Inn, now the International Headquarters of the Self Realization Fellowship. The powerhouse contained the grip wheel which pulled cars along the moving cable under the planking.

Two cars, named Florence and Virginia, operated simultaneously, one leaving at the foot of the hill and the other heading down the mountain from the inn.

At mid-point in the 2,900 foot route, the two cars passed each other at a turnout where the conductor in the ascending car would step over to the descending car and collect the five cent fare. The car leaving the inn was without a conductor until the mid-point was reached.

The Mt. Washington Inn helped foster the image of a dynamic, alive community. Stars of the new movie colony in Hollywood and other luminaries who moved in fashionable circles were frequest guests

The success of the Los Angeles-Mt. Washington Railway, however, was short-lived. In January, 1919, the Board of Public Utilities ordered the railway to cease operation due to unsafe operating conditions.

It was noted in a city file that in 1916, 1917, and the first nine months of 1918 the railroad had an operating deficit of approximately $3,800 a year, resulting in a lack of maintenance and repairs.

In October of 1922, the franchise of the operation was revoked for "failure on the part of the company to comply with orders of the Board of Public Utilities." The inn failed shortly after the railway stopped running.

The fate of the two cars, Florence and Virginia is not known. Still standing, however, is the former passenger depot and concession stand at the corner of Avenue 43 and Marmion Way. The building was later a market, and is today a private residence, appearing much the same as it did in 1909.

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