Building Pacific Coast Highway Around Point Mugu in 1923-1924

 Point Mugu before and after creation of a narrow road around it in 1924.

Point Mugu before and after creation of a narrow road around it in 1924.

According to the California Highway Commission in the October 1924 issue of “California Highways,” perhaps the most dangerous and difficult piece of construction work on the California state highway system at that time was the 3800 feet of grading AROUND Point Mugu.

For those driving Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County past Mugu Rock, there are clear signs of this old route that took automobiles on a precarious route around Point Mugu.

 Peaking through the fence towards the old road around Mugu Rock.

Peaking through the fence towards the old road around Mugu Rock.

The new and still existing route was created by blasting a massive hole through Point Mugu to create Mugu Rock in 1937 to 1940.

The work to complete this section of the Oxnard to San Juan Capistrano PCH route was authorized by a bond issue in 1919.

The project averaged 60 workers who moved 108,000 cubic yards or rock at a total cost of $108,500 (heck, that would be the cost of a pool addition and new kitchen remodel today). The cut around Point Mugu ranged from 40 feet on the ocean side to 115 feet on the high side in creating the narrow, short-lived roadway.

The California Highway Commission ended its article by stating “…along this piece of rugged coast line the Old Pacific is recognized as an arch enemy to whom we must trust as little as possible of our costly highway.” Sheesh, that was not a particularly optimistic statement!

Two Ventura County Cities Were Born on September 29, 1964!

You wouldn't immediately know it looking at the headline of this September 30, 1964 issue of The Daily News, but the day before, residents in BOTH Camarillo and Thousand Oaks voted to incorporate their respective cities.

The article indicates that voters in Camarillo voted in favor of incorporation by a 5 to 1 margin, with 64% of the 3,745 registered voters turning in ballots. In the far right column, you'll see that with 10 of 18 precincts counted, 61% of 2,428 votes cast in Thousand Oaks were for incorporation. In Thousand Oaks they also voted on the name of the city...over 87% of votes cast said "yes" to the name Thousand Oaks.

Thanks to the Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum in Camarillo for maintaining this and other local Ventura County history!

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Purple Heart Trail Signs on U.S. Highway 101 in Ventura County Commemorate Veterans

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In November 2014, Caltrans District 7 installed two signs designating a segment of U.S. Highway 101 as part of the National Purple Heart Trail — a system of signed highways, bridges, and other monuments that honor soldiers who have received the Purple Heart medal.

One of these signs can be seen on the northbound 101 in Thousand Oaks, right before the Westlake Boulevard offramp. The other sign is near the Bates Road offramp of the southbound 101.

These two signs complete 240 continuous miles of Purple Heart trail in California, from Ventura County to Monterey.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 27 established specified portions of US Highway 101 in the counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura for inclusion in the National Purple Heart Trail.

The U.S. 101 in Ventura County is also dedicated to the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division as commemorated by "The Screaming Eagles Hwy - 101st Airborne Division" placed nearby.

www.dot.ca.gov/hq/paffairs/news/pressrel/14pr111.htm

U.S. 101 in Ventura County is Designated "The Screaming Eagles Highway"

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As you drive U.S. Route 101 northbound in the Conejo Valley just past the Westlake Boulevard offramp is a sign that says "The Screaming Eagles Hwy 101st Airborne Division."

The sign was authorized by Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 54 (ACR-54) Screaming Eagles Highway: 101st Airborne Division, in 2003.

The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a specialized modular light infantry division of the U.S. Army trained for air assault operations. It was formed in World War I on July 23, 1918 and has been involved in every major U.S. War since then.

The 101st Airborne Division was instrumental in the success of the D-Day Invasion, in the Operation Market Garden in Holland, in Bastogne for the Battle of the Bulge, in Vietnam for Operation Nevada Eagle, and in many other courageous missions worldwide. 

In recognition of the 101's significance for military personnel of the 101st Airborne Division, the Assembly designated the 44 mile portion of the 101 in Ventura County as the Screaming Eagles Highway.

The sign was unveiled in September 2005. The same sign is placed on the southbound 101 just south of the Bates Road offramp on the Ventura/Santa Barbara County border.

Today is the 50th Anniverary of The Release of "Hey Jude" by the Beatles

Fifty years ago today, August 26, 1968, the Beatles released the song "Hey Jude."

The song was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon and McCartney.

Originally "Hey Jules" in support of John Lennon's son Julian during his parents' divorce, "Hey Jude" was the first single released by the Beatles' record label, Apple Records.

Seven minutes, 11 seconds in length, Hey Jude was one of the longest singles ever released at that time. It spent 9 weeks at number 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the longest of any Beatles song.

The single has sold over 8 million copies in the U.S. placing it in the top 50 selling songs of all time, topped by just one other Beatles song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Evolution of the Conejo Grade in Ventura County Over the Last 100 Years

 Horseshoe shaped section of the Conejo Grade in the 1920s.

Horseshoe shaped section of the Conejo Grade in the 1920s.

The Conejo Grade is the section of Highway 101 that connects the Conejo Valley with Camarillo. It is a four mile stretch of freeway with a significant 7% grade.

 Going down the Conejo Grade from Newbury Park to Camarillo today.

Going down the Conejo Grade from Newbury Park to Camarillo today.

At 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of May 1, 1937, a newly upgraded and realigned Conejo Grade premiered after a day of celebration commencing at the ranch of Adolfo Camarillo. Camarillo, the namesake of what in 1964 became the City of Camarillo, donated the right of way to enable the grade to be realigned. Actor Leo Carrillo entertained guests at Camarillo's ranch at the bottom of the grade.

 Grand opening of the newly realigned Conejo Grade on May 1, 1937.

Grand opening of the newly realigned Conejo Grade on May 1, 1937.

The old Conejo Grade was constructed by the California Highway Commission in 1914-1915. The previous route had 49 twists and turns, making it somewhat of a hazardous route (albeit somewhat less steep than the current grade). The new Conejo Grade cut the number of curves by 75%.

 Another view of the Conejo Grade before it was realigned in 1937.

Another view of the Conejo Grade before it was realigned in 1937.

The new 1937 Conejo Grade cost a total of $570,000, which is less than the average cost of a house in the Conejo Valley today! Over a year and a half, the project employed about 100 workers who put in over 272,000 hours, excavating over 800,000 cubic yards of mostly hard rock. Talk about rock stars!

 In the 1950s and 1960s, Caltrans further widened and improved Highway 101 over the Conejo Grade.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Caltrans further widened and improved Highway 101 over the Conejo Grade.

Several decades later, as Ventura County grew and the cities of Camarillo and Thousand Oaks incorporated in 1964, Caltrans continued to widen and improve the highway to what it is today.

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Source for historical information: "California Highways and Public Works" (May 1937) - official journal of the State of California Division of Highways, Department of Public Works.

Special thanks to the Pleasant Valley Historical Society for providing historic photos.

Aviation Museum of Santa Paula is Open to the Public the First Sunday of Each Month

The Santa Paula Airport was dedicated in August 1930. Today it is a non-towered facility with nearly 300 aircraft, handling approximately 97,000 arrivals/departures a year. Much of the original 1930’s-era facilities still exist and are used today, giving the airport a very authentic representation of the Golden Age of Aviation.

Located at the Santa Paula Airport, the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula is open the first Sunday of each month, with a array of hangars open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Each of the privately owned hangars houses a variety of vintage aircraft and collections of various types, as well as other memorabilia, such as antique radios, model aircraft and race cars. Some hangars celebrate highlights of fascinating aviation careers, while others contain antique aircraft undergoing the process of restoration. Hangar owners or docents are available to answer questions. 

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You've got to take the time to stop by. It is fun, low key and quite interesting. The hangars are directly adjacent to the airfield, so you are guaranteed to see aircraft taking and landing up close. The range of items on display at the various hangars is quite diverse. In fact, one of the most extensive, well organized collections of vintage radios I've ever seen is located in one of the hangars.

 A look at just a few of the vintage radios currently on display in one hangar.

A look at just a few of the vintage radios currently on display in one hangar.

 Obviously an aviation aficionado in this hangar!

Obviously an aviation aficionado in this hangar!

The participating hangars are fairly well spread out at the 51 acre airport but if you're not up for walking, there's a complimentary tram that will take you around. These are some very nice people who have obvious passion for what they do and enjoy sharing it with the general public. I struck up several conversations with hangar owners and they were full of great stories and information.

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There is no charge for visiting the Aviation Museum, though donations are welcomed. Visit www.aviationmuseumofsantapaula.org or call 805.525.1109 for more information.

The Museum is not open on rainy days.

Directions: Arriving by car from the east, exit the Santa Paula Freeway (SR 126) at 10th street, turn right off the ramp, and then a quick left onto Harvard Boulevard. Turn left at the next signal at Eighth Street, under the freeway, left onto Santa Maria Street and park in the lot. Arriving from the west, exit the freeway at Palm Avenue, turn right and then a quick left onto Santa Maria Street, about a half mile to the end at the parking lot.

 Lots to see, both inside and outside of the hangars.

Lots to see, both inside and outside of the hangars.