Home & Property
Mountain Views News Saturday, October 2, 2010
14 HOMES AND PROPERTY MountainViews-News Saturday, October 2, 2010 One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes & gardens and the people who create them Story and Photos By Chris Bertrand Lizzie’s Trail Inn Chris is taking a few week’s vacation. Please enjoy a few of her favorites while she’s away. A Century of Memories at Lizzie’s Trail Inn Maurice Orme opens the door to Lizzie’s Trail Inn and a century of memories… of family, of hikers and campers, of pack mules, chicken, ravioli and bowls of spiced beans. “If I close my eyes, I can still hear the music and the voice of all the people having a good time,” he says. The Orme family pulled up stakes in Missouri in the late 1920’s. The men of the family set out first, to set up or buy local businesses in the La Manda Park and Tidleyville areas near Sierra Madre. Eventually, the Orme women and children, including young Maurice, came out by train, moving together in a multi-home compound of sorts on Lima and Montecito. A couple of the homes still exist, with one still occupied by a family member, while the others were razed to build apartments decades ago. Elsie Orme Mc Elwain, Maurice’s mother, took up employment as a cook at Lizzie’s Trail Inn in the mid 1930’s. A rest stop and restaurant had been located on the site since the 1890’s to serve the trail built by Don Benito Wilson in 1864. Originally it was simply called “The Eating Place at the foot of the Mount Wilson Trail.” Later it was Doug’s Lunch Stand, and in 1924 became Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stoppel Mc Elwain’s Trail Inn, providing food, pack supplies, mules and even a dance floor for travelers. Visitors journeyed to this “crack in the wilderness” to fish, hunt and vacation, enjoying the tried and true, unchanging menu of fried chicken and ravioli, spiced beans, cole slaw, beverages and even distilled spirits during Prohibition. After 1935, Thelma and Robert Orme and Elsie Orme Mc Elwain worked together with the hold of the extended family and friends to keep the busy place humming, especially on summer weekends when the Red Car brought hundreds of people to the Mt. Wilson Trail and its camps. Some people, Maurice remembers, thought Lizzie’s was plenty far enough from the city life. They rented adjacent cabins for $2 a night instead of continuing further up the trail. He also remembers that sweeping up at Lizzie’s could be somewhat profitable. When he swept, he kept the coins that had fallen unnoticed from the slot machines to the floor, which he quickly fed into Lizzie’s pinball machine. The Ormes and Mc Elwains continued the business until World War II rationing severely restricted supplies and the CCC took down Orchard Camp. Maurice remembers being part of the last packs taking Lizzie’s food up to the workers dismantling the camp, ostensibly for fire prevention reasons. Years later, when post-war building and zoning in Sierra Madre encroached on the previously secluded mountain retreat, Lizzie’s closed forever in 1948. In 1913 the structure was actually moved, lock stock and barrel, from the site that now holds the Mira Monte Reservoir to its current location across the street. Twice, it’s been rebuilt by an army of volunteers. Refurbished first in 1976 for the nation’s Bi-Centennial, the next twenty five years and four earthquakes left Lizzie’s again in a state of near collapse. In 2001, Dr. White, who once owned the local hospital on Sierra Madre Blvd., spearheaded the project to rebuild Lizzie’s for a second time with some 300 volunteers. In the interim, pictures, memorabilia from the restaurant and from those who enjoyed the trail has been collected here. Old menus, photos, trivia, literature and artifacts from a century of hikers and packers, the old stove that cooked thousands of Lizzie dinners, and much more are a treasure trove of history for visitors. Music of the era plays in the background to put visitors in the right spirit. As is the case with many volunteer organizations, just a few people are responsible to run the museum each week, and to give special tours. Maurice Orme comes every Saturday. Dr. White lands back at the museum after his traditional Saturday, 5 a.m. hike up Mt. Wilson Trail with a long-standing group. The small group could always use help in keeping the history of the inn and the trail alive for young and old alike. A project near and dear to Orme’s heart is the idea to transform the mural of the mules, packers and the Mt. Wilson Trail onto the newly completed Mira Monte Reservoir structure. This corner, at the beginning of the Mt. Wilson Trail, is always busy with hikers eager to delve into this crack in the wilderness. Orme feels a historic mural here would be the perfect avenue to bring the past and present together. He is always looking for help and financial support toward that end. Contact him at 626-254-1013 at Coldwell Banker in Arcadia if you have ideas to make the idea a reality! Both Lizzie’s Trail Inn and the Richardson House, at 127 Mira Monte in Sierra Madre, are open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon for free tours. To schedule school or special tours, please call the society at (626)355- 8129, Jay Whitcraft at 626-355-5987 or visit www.smhps.org Maurice Orme shares his childhood memories of Lizzie’s Trail Inn with visitors every Saturday. Elsie Orme Mc Elwain makes Lizzie’s famous raviolis circa 1940. DISCOVERY OF FIRST TRULY HABITABLE EXOPLANET Discovery Suggests Our Galaxy Could Be Teeming with Life A team of planet hunters led by astronomers at UC Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, has announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star’s “habitable zone,” where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one. “This is clearly one of the most exciting areas of science these days” said Ed Seidel, assistant director for NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences directorate. “If we do discover life outside our planet, it would perhaps be the most significant discovery of all time.” To astronomers, a “potentially habitable” planet is one that could sustain life, though not necessarily one that humans would consider a nice place to live. Habitability depends on many factors, but liquid water and an atmosphere are among the most important. “Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet,” said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.” “With modern techniques, it is now possible to actually search for worlds that might be able to support life as we understand it,” added Seidel. “Just a few years back I wouldn’t have thought this could have advanced so fast.” Persistent Ground-Based Observing This discovery was the result of over a decade of observations at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. “Advanced techniques combined with old-fashioned ground-based telescopes continue to lead the exoplanet revolution,” said Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution. “Our ability to find potentially habitable worlds is now limited only by our telescope time.” Vogt and Butler lead the Lick–Carnegie Exoplanet Survey. The team’s new findings are reported in a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and posted online at arXiv.org. Coauthors include associate research scientist Eugenio Rivera of UC Santa Cruz; associate astronomer Nader Haghighipour of the University of Hawaii–Manoa; and research scientists Gregory Henry and Michael Williamson of Tennessee State University. The paper reports the discovery of two new planets around the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581. This brings the total number of known planets around this star to six, the most yet discovered in a planetary system other than our own solar system. Like our solar system, the planets around Gliese 581 have nearly circular orbits. The most interesting of the two new planets is Gliese 581g, with a mass three to four times that of the Earth and an orbital period of just under 37 days. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with a definite surface, and that it has enough gravity to hold on to an atmosphere, according to Vogt. Gliese 581, located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra, has a somewhat checkered history of habitable- planet claims. Two previously detected planets in the system lie at the edges of the habitable zone, one on the hot side (planet c) and one on the cold side (planet d). While some astronomers still think planet d may be habitable if it has a thick atmosphere with a strong greenhouse effect to warm it up, others are skeptical. The newly discovered planet g, however, lies right in the middle of the habitable zone. “We had planets on both sides of the habitable zone—one too hot and one too cold—and now we have one in the middle that’s just right,” Vogt said. A Planet That Doesn’t Rotate The planet is tidally locked to the star, meaning that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness. One effect of this is to stabilize the planet’s surface climates, according to Vogt. The most habitable zone on the planet’s surface would be the line between shadow and light (known as the “terminator”), with surface temperatures decreasing toward the dark side and increasing toward the bright side. “Any emerging life forms would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude,” Vogt said. The researchers estimate that the average surface temperature of the planet is between 24 degrees below zero and 10 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. Actual temperature at any given place on the planet’s surface would range from blazing hot on the side facing the star to freezing cold on the dark side. If Gliese 581g has a rocky composition similar to the Earth’s, its diameter would be about 1.2 to 1.4 times that of the Earth. The surface gravity would be about the same or slightly higher than the Earth’s, so that a person could easily walk upright on the planet, Vogt noted. Observed for 11 Years The new findings are based on 11 years of observations of Gliese 581 using the HIRES spectrometer (designed by Vogt) on the Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The spectrometer allows precise measurements of a star’s radial velocity (its motion along the line of sight from Earth), which can reveal the presence of planets. The gravitational tug of an orbiting planet causes periodic changes in the radial velocity of the host star. Multiple planets induce complex wobbles in the star’s motion, and astronomers use sophisticated analyses to detect planets and determine their orbits and masses. “It’s really hard to detect a planet like this,” Vogt said. “Every time we measure the radial velocity, that’s an evening on the telescope, and it took more than 200 observations with a precision of about 1.6 meters per second to detect this planet.” To get that many radial velocity measurements (238 in total), Vogt’s team combined their HIRES observations with published data from another group led by the Geneva Observatory (HARPS, the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planetary Search project). In addition to the radial velocity observations, coauthors Henry and Williamson made precise night-to-night brightness measurements of the star with one of Tennessee State University’s robotic telescopes. “Our brightness measurements verify that the radial velocity variations are caused by the new orbiting planet and not by any process within the star itself,” Henry said. The researchers also explored the implications of this discovery with respect to the number of stars that are likely to have at least one potentially habitable planet. Given the relatively small number of stars that have been carefully monitored by planet hunters, this discovery has come surprisingly soon. “If these are rare, we shouldn’t have found one so quickly and so nearby,” Vogt said. “The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably on the order of 10 or 20 percent, and when you multiply that by the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, that’s a large number. There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.” You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@ MtnViewsNews.com. Figure 1: This artist’s conception shows the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 system and their host star, a red dwarf star only 20 light-years away from Earth. The large planet in the foreground is the newly discovered GJ 581g, an Earth-size planet that orbits in the star’s habitable zone. Artwork by Lynette Cook. Figure 2: Orbital diagrams comparing the Gliese 581 system to our own solar system. Image by Zina Deretsky, NSF.