Arrowhead Incline Railway

In a recent column, I wrote about a seldom-mentioned trackless trolley line that once ran in the Cajon Pass. Well, here is another relic that many railroad buffs may not know much about.

During the turn of the 19th century, the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company was responsible for the arduous task of hauling hundreds of tons of cement and other construction materials for the building of a dam for the man-made lake in Little Bear Valley, known today as Lake Arrowhead. In an attempt to speed up the process, the company’s engineers constructed a three-rail incline railway from Waterman Canyon to Skyland summit near Crestline to transport supplies.

Grading was completed by February 21, 1906, and the first rails were laid on May 12. Two balanced freight cars were alternately hoisted up and lowered down the 4,170 foot, 45 degree incline by “donkey engine” attached to the cars by cable.

The up car and down car would pass each other at the midway point. Unfortunately, this experiment resulted in one big headache after another. The route was steep, long and there were frequent breakdowns.

When the first trip was made on July 31, 1906, carrying three tons of cement bags, the cable car hit the midway dip in the rails, resulting in the cars jumping dangerously into the air. In fact, many loads were lost, and many corrections had to be made.

(Read article here)