Telephone Service

Shortly after the deadly winter of 1922, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District installed a telephone at the Ranch. According to the Captain, that is when their troubles began.

When the heavy snows came along the line would go out they would have to hunt for the break in the line, which might be anywhere between the Ranch and Sierra Madre about 30 miles away. As soon as they became isolated Grace would become doubly anxious about their children and grandchildren in the valley below.

On one occasion they had been without a telephone for a week or ten days due to the heavy snows. After it had cleared up they took the horses and a pack burro with new repair material and went up to Chilao. The line in many places doesn't follow the trail, which means that they had to get off their animals and wallow in deep snow. They found and fixed four breaks, but had no way of telling how many more they might find further along line. So they kept on and found another break where the line went through a lot of timber in a place and the wire had been fastened some 60' from ground.

Captain Loomis fastened the broken line to a rope in order to take it up to the bracket. The Captain had almost got up to the bracket when the wire caught on the limb of a tree. Try as he might he couldn't get it off the limb. Just then grace called to him, "Hold on, Dad, I'll climb the other tree and cut the limb off."

The tree the that the line was caught on had no low limbs. So Grace had to build herself a regular platform of rocks and such and finally managed to climb onto some branches with an ax. Suddenly the wire had got loose somehow. When Grace saw that the wire was loose she became rather indignant and accused the Captain of having fooled her.

They got home and found to their joy that the breaks were all closed and they had the use of the phone again.

The telephone line troubles continued even as Lester and Grace approached seventy years of age, but they continued to repair the breaks as they occurred. During the winter of 1931-1932, the line went out, and after a day or two they went out to fix it. They got halfway to Pine Flats without finding any breaks. The snow was two feet deep and that point and getting deeper. They didn't think there would be another soul within 15 miles, but suddenly came upon two men who had been trapping. The two men claimed that the line was OK out to Barley, and offered to fix it if they found a break, or notify John Opid, who had installed many of the mountain telephone lines. But they apparently did neither, and the line was out for a month.

[Note: The Loomis Ranch telephone line was included in the 1924 Sierra Madre telephone directory under a U.S. Forest Service-Big Santa Anita listing as "Loomis, L.G., ranch". The telephone number was 206 - 8 bells.]

[Sources: Lester Loomis Journal - Wandalee Thompson Collection (2002.1.23)]