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Road to Mt. Wilson

Mount Wilson is famous for its telescopes perched about 5,700 feet above the San Gabriel Valley. But did you know that about a hundred years ago a windy, rocky toll road allowed adventurous drivers to reach the top? Rare footage from the Automobile Club of Southern California captured the hazardous drive.

The toll road opened in 1891. Motorists would pay 25-cents to make their way up the 9-mile stretch of a narrow, dirt road. The route was originally a trail for pack mules. In 1907 it was widened so a truck, crawling along at 1 mile per hour, could safely deliver a 9,000 pound telescope mirror to the observatory. It quickly became a popular outing for motorists in their Model T’s. Today the old toll road is a trail for hikers looking for a good workout and stunning views.

Anchor Val Zavala talks with AAA archivist Morgan Yates, who narrates the driving experience captured in this delightful historical footage by the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Morgan Yates, historian/archivist, Auto Club of Southern California

Full Episodes

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