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Back Tracking: Altadena and the “Big Red Car”

Pacific Electric Railway photographs, memorabilia at Pasadena Museum of History leave no doubt that we were once quite the vacation destination.

Back in the day, a trip to Redondo Beach paled in comparison to what the Pacific Electric Railway advertised as a “Two Hour Trip Unexcelled in Scenic Beauty” to Mount Lowe.  

The best thing about the “Pacific Electric Railway Then and Now” exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of History may be the before-and-after shots.  For example, an old photo shows the Red Car as it rounds the bend from Lake Avenue to head west on Mariposa. But the exhibit's co-curator Steve Crise didn't just photograph a Metro bus taking the same turn. When you visit, compare the light and shadows -- his image captures a “now” at the same time of year, maybe even the same hour of the day. 

So buy a ticket and relax; peruse the photos, old maps, hardware, badges, brochures, menus -- Lettuce and Cream Cheese (30 cents), Jelly Omelet (40 cents), Sirloin Steak (75 cents) -- and enjoy the ride. 

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