This historic photo and information was generously provided by Gerry Olsen, grandson of Nils Olsen, one of the original settlers in the Conejo Valley in the 1890s.
Nils Olsen was born over 150 years ago (June 16, 1859) in Norway. After a stint in the Norwegian Army, he decided in 1884 that he wanted to move to the United States. So he started saving his money. In late January 1886 he bid farewell to his family. He arrived New York on February 20, 1886 via ship...it took about 16 days to get from Bergen, Norway to New York via Liverpool, England and Ireland (cost was roughly $58).
Two days after arriving in New York, Nils was off to San Francisco, where he arrived nine days later. Then later that month (March 1886) he took the train and stagecoach to Santa Barbara, where for four years he worked as a stone mason. In 1889, Nils met George Edwards, whose family owned 20,000 acres in the Conejo Valley and who was selling parcels.
In 1890, Nils and four other Norwegians, Ole Nelson, Lars Pederson, George Hanson and Ole Anderson purchased 650 acres from Edwards. Apparently the land cost about $3/acre for flatlands and $2/acre for hillsides. They settled and grew barley and wheat for the next 20 years. This area was known as the Norwegian Colony.
Anderson sold his land to Hanson by 1900 and moved back to Norway. Nelson sold his land to Pederson in 1902. Hanson's wife (he died at age 39 in 1901) sold her land to Olsen in 1902-1903. That left just the Olsens and Pedersons.
Olsen's first home was southeast of the corner of Olsen and Moorpark roads. In 1905, he and his family moved into the new three bedroom home and barn pictured above. The photo was taken from the hill behind where the Church of the LDS on Moorpark Road currently resides. The home was located on, but of course, OLSEN Road near the corner of Olsen and Mountclef (adjacent to Cal Lutheran University).
Outdoor castle scenes of Wuthering Heights were filmed on the Olsen property in 1938. Nils passed away on December 14, 1941 at the age of 82. In 1954, the home pictured above was torn down to make room for a more modern home.
There is so much more history to tell about these Norwegian settlers who bravely settled on the land we now reside. Here I am stressing out about pulling weeds and mowing the lawn. These hearty Norwegians will forever be remembered in the Conejo Valley.