News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

‘TIME JOCKEY: Mount Names

by Joe Castillo

San Gabriel Range….

The San Gabriel Mountains are named after a number of prominent people of Southern California fame and fortune. Mount Wilson, a 5,700 foot peak, was named after Benjamin ‘Don Benito’ Wilson. Wilson was an early landowner in the San Gabriel Valley and was a mayor of Los Angeles. The mountain peak is best known for the Mt. Wilson Observatory which was built under the direction of astronomer George Hale in 1903. The Mt. Wilson Hotel was also built nearby but eventually was destroyed by fire.  The Mt. Wilson Trail runs 8 miles to the peak of the mountain and was used by the Gabrielinos, long before the Spanish arrived in Southern California. Mt. Baden-Powell, a peak in the Mount San Antonio area was named after Sir Robert Baden-Powell. Sir Robert was prominent for founding the Boy Scouts in 1908. Mount Disappointment is a 5,994 peak in the San Gabriel range. Rumor has it that it received its name from climbers who ascended to the top, only to be disappointed that a higher peak was directly behind it. It is still used as a favorite location for climbers who won’t be disappointed in its challenge. Mount Lowe is located just 4 miles to the east of Mount Wilson. It was named for Thaddeus Lowe, an aeronautic engineer for the U.S. Army during the Civil War. In 1893, Lowe opened the 3,000 foot long Mt. Lowe Scenic Railway. The railway was a narrow cable line which lifted riders up 1,500 feet in elevation. Thaddeus Lowe built a hotel  on nearby Echo Mountain and also built an observatory. The railway was eventually  sold to the Pacific Electric Railway in 1900 and would eventually carry 3.1 million passengers at $5 each until it ceased operations in 1937. Mount Lukens, a 5,074 peak above La Cresenta was named after Theodore P. Lukens, Mayor of Pasadena and a leading promoter of reforestation. Mount Markham is a 5,742 feet peak between San Gabriel Peak and Mount Lowe. It was named after Henry Markham, a prominent Pasadena resident, who would eventually become governor of the State of California from 1891 to 1895. The list goes on and on, so the next time you look at the San Gabriel’s remember that every peak you see is probably named  after someone who did a lot in the San Gabriel Valley and their name will remain as long as their mountain does ….

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