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Charles Lawrence

What do Henry Ford, William Jennings Bryan and Japanese immigrant Hidehachi Ujiiye have in common? They were all photographed by Charles S. Lawrence upon their arrival at Echo Mountain. Lawrence, the official photographer for the Echo Mountain resort, estimated that he took almost 26,000 pictures of passengers riding the Incline railway from 1903 to 1932. According to a Pasadena Star-News article by Dorothy Hassler, he then offered the photograph, enclosed in a souvenir folder, “mailed to you anywhere in the world for 25 cents.” “Two-bit Charlie,” as he was known, also took many photographs of Mount Lowe that were published in souvenir booklets and publicity materials. In addition, he was an amateur astrologer and became close friends with Professor Larkin, whom he assisted at the observatory. He and Larkin were instrumental in saving the observatory and its telescope from fire in 1905.

After Larkin retired, Lawrence took his place as observatory lecturer. When the observatory closed, he returned to his home in Pasadena with his large collection of photographs which he offered for sale. Asked about his years on Echo Mountain, he said, “I wish I could go back and live them all over again.”