By Mary O’KEEFE
On Monday, Angeles Crest legend Lynn Newcomb Jr., 91, died in Bishop, Calif.
Newcomb’s Ranch is synonymous with the ’Crest. For decades the ranch has been an oasis for motorcyclists, motorists and cyclists alike. Perhaps it is the only place on the ’Crest where all three road enthusiasts get along. The reason for that, according to those who knew him, was Lynn Newcomb Jr.
“He gave me my first job,” said Darren Martinelli, a long time employee of Newcomb’s Ranch.
Martinelli started working a Mt. Waterman, a ski resort also owned by Newcomb.
“One day they were really busy at the ranch and Lynn said, ‘Who wants to go and bus tables?’” Martinelli recalled.
He volunteered and has been at Newcomb’s Ranch every since. That was about 26 years ago.
Newcomb was an innovator, seeing the mountain as a series of challenges that could be met. He bought Mt. Waterman and turned a rugged area into a mountain ski resort.
“Those first days when he was building Mt. Waterman, if you wanted to get up the mountain you had to use the trail,” Martinelli said. “Lynn was a USC student of engineering. He [developed] the chair lifts. That was a brand new concept.”
Martinelli said he felt that Mt. Waterman was meant to be.
“Everything came together,” he said. “[Lynn] found out the U.S. Forest Service was [training personnel] on cutting trees down.”
Newcomb invited the service to practice their tree cutting skills in the Mt. Waterman area and cleared the mountain.
“Caltrans wanted wood to build the tunnel. Lynn had plenty of wood. Martinelli said. “Just all sorts of little things came together.”
Newcomb was supportive of those who lived on the mountain and those who traveled the ’Crest but he was especially supportive to emergency responders like Montrose Search and Rescue.
“What was amazing about [Lynn] was we (Montrose Search and Rescue members) would be up there in the middle of a snow storm and he would fire up the diesel motor for the chair lift and we would go up,” said Mike Leum, MSR member.
He had known Newcomb for years and could always count on his support.
“He knew that without the chairs we would have to hike the mountain to start our search,” Leum added. “He would open up and warm up the command post for us.”
Throughout his long career at Newcomb’s Ranch and Mt. Waterman, Lynn Newcomb had influenced many in the community.
“I met Lynn Newcomb, along with his first wife Virginia and daughter Cynthia, in 1972 through my father’s business,” said Capt. Dave Silversparre of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Crescenta Valley Station. Silversparre’s father owned the 76 Union Oil Station at Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard. “He was a generous and humble individual whom I have looked up since my childhood. He was personable and truly worried about the safety of his employees on highway. I last saw him with his (second) wife Lillian at a local business a couple years ago and was sorry to have seen him suffering from life’s ailments. My family and I will miss him.”
Newcomb had inherited what is now Newcomb’s Ranch from his father. He sold the property in 2001. He purchased Mt. Waterman in 1939.
“He was the kind of guy we would all like to think we are,” Leum said.
A memorial for Lynn Newcomb Jr. will be held at La Cañada Country Club on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m.