Hillside Letters "SP" on South Mountain in Santa Paula

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When driving southbound in Santa Paula, look up towards the mountain south of the city (aptly named South Mountain) and you’ll see the letters SP boldly emblazoned high up on the hill that overlooks the Santa Paula Airport.

According to the Santa Paula Times, the letters are 125 feet long and 25 feet wide and originated in the 1922 time frame when a group of high schooler made the trek up the mountain.. The letter

The brush was cleared annually over the years until the 1970s; for decades thereafter, the brush overgrew the letters and made them difficult to see.

Then, as part of the city’s centennial celebration in 2002, the Times noted that Limoneira Co. and other volunteers and donors worked to clean up the letters for all to see.

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Santa Paula is not alone in its mountain monogram. Other local area cities with monograms include Agoura Hills (there’s a letter A in the hill north of Agoura High School), the letters CLU emblazoned on the hill overlooking Cal Lutheran University, the letter F in the hills east of Fillmore, the letter V in the hills above Ventura High School and the letters VC in the hills above Ventura College.

Of course, the most prominent icon landscaped into a hill in Ventura County is Happy Face Hill seen by westbound drivers on the 118 near Kuehner Drive.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley - sure to bring a smile to your face.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley - sure to bring a smile to your face.

Tell Me a Little Bit About Newbury Park

Newbury Park is a community located in the western portion of Thousand Oaks. It became part of Thousand Oaks by community vote sometime in the 1960s and 1970s. Thousand Oaks became a city in October 1964.

A view of Newbury Park from Boney Peak in March 2015.

A view of Newbury Park from Boney Peak in March 2015.

Egbert Starr Newbury (Photo Courtesy Conejo Valley Historical Society)

Egbert Starr Newbury (Photo Courtesy Conejo Valley Historical Society)

Newbury Park is named after Egbert Starr Newbury, who owned thousands of acres of land in the Conejo Valley after moving to California from Michigan for health reasons in 1871.  Newbury was one of the three largest Conejo Valley landowners of his time. He and his wife Fannie became the first postmasters in the Conejo Valley in 1875.  The post office was located in a small compound near their house, which was located at the current location of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

The other major landowners at that time were John Edwards, who owned much of the current Newbury Park/Thousand Oaks area north of the 101, and Howard Mills, who owned much of what today is Westlake Village and Hidden Valley.

Edwards sold 10,000 acres of what is now central Thousand Oaks to Edwin and Harold Janss in 1893.  The Janss Corporation also bought thousands of acres of land in Newbury Park (Friedrich, Running Springs and Borchard Ranches) in 1962.  Apparently there was an effort to incorporate Newbury Park as a city in 1963 but it failed when it lacked sufficient votes.

Over a 30 month period beginning in the Fall of 1876, only 6 inches of rain fell in the Conejo Valley.  This drought brought devastation to landowners, most of whom lost their crops and livestock and had to sell at a loss or went bankrupt.  The Newburys were no exception; they moved back to the midwest in 1877.  Egbert fell ill to pneumonia in 1880 and passed away at the young age of 36.

The Newburys lived here only six years, so why is it still called Newbury Park? Because the name of the Newburys' post office never changed! The Newbury Park Post Office has changed locations a number of times (including 1602 Newbury Road from May 1968 until it moved to its current location at 3401 Grande Vista Drive in 2013). So the Newbury name and legacy live on here in the Conejo Valley.

Horse tied to a sign indicating the Newbury Park Post Office, in 1909. The location was near modern-day Lynn Ranch. (Courtesy of the Thousand Oaks Library Local History Photo Collection).

Horse tied to a sign indicating the Newbury Park Post Office, in 1909. The location was near modern-day Lynn Ranch. (Courtesy of the Thousand Oaks Library Local History Photo Collection).

Sources: "The Conejo Valley - Old and New Frontiers" by Carol A. Bidwell and "The Newburys of Newbury Park" by Miriam Sprankling

But wait...there's more to Newbury Park! Casa Conejo is also part of the Newbury Park community but is not an incorporated part of Thousand Oaks. It is considered a census-designated place in Ventura County, with its own Municipal Advisory Council. Casa Conejo is the first planned community in Newbury Park and was built in the early 1960s. It is has an area of .5 square mile and is bound by Borchard to the South, Old Conejo Road to the North, Jenny Drive (East of Newbury Park High School) to the West and Sequoia Middle School to the East.

Interested in historical pictures of the area going back to the 1950s?  Click here to read about the work of prolific Conejo Valley photographer, Ed Lawrence. 

Click here for a history of Thousand Oaks.  Thousand Oaks is over 56 square miles and Newbury Park represents about 40% of that square footage.

Three dozen or so things to do in Newbury Park

Another three dozen or so kids' activities in Newbury Park

Yet another three dozen or so sports and fitness activities in Newbury Park

Ventura County Area Listings in the National Register of Historic Places

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The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.

There are over 80,000 listings in the National Register in five general categories: building, structure, site, district and object.

To be considered eligible for the Register, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age (generally at least 50 years old), integrity and significance.

To learn more about the National Register of Historic Places and to search its database, visit www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm.

Now let's highlight Ventura County area properties listed in the Register as of September 2017. Most of these you can visit (links provided where applicable):

Other nearby historic places:

Over 25 Things to Do in Agoura Hills

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The City of Agoura Hills incorporated in 1982 and is part of Los Angeles County. But we consider Agoura to be part of our family, consisting of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Oak Park and other communities that form the Conejo Valley.

Agoura Hills has an area of 7.86 square miles, with a population just under 21,000. It became the 83rd city in Los Angeles County when residents voted to incorporate, just one year after neighboring city Westlake Village incorporated.

Here is a compilation of things to do in the City of Agoura Hills.

Trails and Hiking

  • Malibu Creek State Park is an 8,000 acre wonderland of trails, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. The Hike to the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park is extremely popular. Equally if not more popular is the hike to the M*A*S*H television show set. Bring your camera!

  • Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons include 4,000 acres of terrain with dozens of miles of trails to explore in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountain range. Popular with cyclists, runners and hikers.

  • Paramount Ranch, maintained by the National Park Service on Cornell Road in Agoura Hills, was used by Paramount Pictures for over 80 years of film and television production. Another local must-see. (HOWEVER, ALL BUT TWO WESTERN TOWN STRUCTURES WERE DESTROYED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF 2018; THERE ARE PLANS TO REBUILD THE WESTERN TOWN.)

  • The 64 acre Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura Hills is also managed by the National Park Service and features hiking and an outdoor amphitheater area. (SEVERELY DAMAGED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF 2018, HOWEVER)

A "must do" in the Agoura Hills area is the hike to the old M*A*S*H TV series set in Malibu Creek State Park.

A "must do" in the Agoura Hills area is the hike to the old M*A*S*H TV series set in Malibu Creek State Park.

Kids

Fitness Related

Ah yes, comic relief courtesy of Caltrans signmakers in 2013 when a new Agoura Hills sign on the 101 was put up   filled with typos  . It was subsequently   corrected  .

Ah yes, comic relief courtesy of Caltrans signmakers in 2013 when a new Agoura Hills sign on the 101 was put up filled with typos. It was subsequently corrected.

Other Entertainment, Things to Do and Annual Events

The old Agoura sign on Agoura Road at Lewis Road.

The old Agoura sign on Agoura Road at Lewis Road.

Closed: Troutdale was a local fishing pond for those looking for the experience of fishing but without the hassle of driving far! Located just off of Kanan Road, near Triunfo Canyon. It appears to be closed as of summer 2018 but perhaps it will re-open one of these days.

El Tecolote Cafe in Camarillo Captured by Local Artist in Oil Painting

El Tecolote by Linda Dark of Camarillo.

El Tecolote by Linda Dark of Camarillo.

Linda Dark has lived in Camarillo since 1978. For the last 12 years she has captured local scenes in oil paint. Here is her rendition of the historic El Tecolote, located at 333 N. Lewis Road, in the image above. El Tecolote serves up delicious, authentic Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

According to the El Tecolote website, World War II veteran Mike Loza opened his restaurant in Moorpark in 1946. The owls occupying the trees surrounding the restaurant were the inspiration for the name El Tecolote (The Owl).

The cafe was moved to a small house in Camarillo in 1948. It was so small that a frustrated customer helped finance a move to its current location in 1952. The restaurant is now owned and managed by the Guardado family. Visit www.facebook.com/eltecoloterestaurant or call 805.482.4318 for more information. 

El Tecolate the night of Monday, September 8, 2014.

El Tecolate the night of Monday, September 8, 2014.

The Historic Elizabeth Bard Memorial Building in Downtown Ventura

Elizabeth Bard Memorial Building in Downtown Ventura is on the  National Register of Historic Places .

Elizabeth Bard Memorial Building in Downtown Ventura is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Elizabeth Bard Memorial Building is located at Fir and Poli Streets in Ventura. Built in 1901, it operated as the Elizabeth Bard Memorial Hospital for 30 years. This building, listed as a Ventura Historic Landmark and added to the coveted National Register of Historic Places in 1977, is a Mission Revival structure featuring covered terraces and a covered porch with a three-story bell tower at the southeast corner.

In 1932 the building was sold to the County of Ventura and was used as county offices and as a detention facility. Eventually it fell into disrepair and was sold to private investors in 1982, after which it was extensively renovated...but the external facades were preserved.

Now it is home to a variety of businesses. Yours truly worked in this building for about a year many years ago. Great location! Close to the Ventura Botantical Gardens Trail, which is making a comeback from the Thomas Fire of 2017.

While the building is not open to the general public (unless you are visiting one of the businesses located in it), it is worth admiring this beautiful and historic part of Ventura County.

Elizabeth Bard Memorial Hospital in 1910.

Elizabeth Bard Memorial Hospital in 1910.

Old Mission Santa Barbara is a Cultural and Historic Local Landmark

The Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786 and was the 10th of 21 California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. The Mission continues to be the chief cultural and historic landmark in the city of Santa Barbara. Home to a community of Franciscan friars, the Mission also has a retreat center with guest rooms, conference rooms, a fully equipped commercial kitchen and dining room, a beautiful church with a large and active parish, a museum and gift shop, a cemetery and mausoleum and ten acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.

The Santa Barbara Mission in July 2013

The Santa Barbara Mission in July 2013

Old Mission Church, Santa Barbara (1876), by Carleton Watkins, via Wikimedia Commons

Old Mission Church, Santa Barbara (1876), by Carleton Watkins, via Wikimedia Commons

Mission Santa Barbara is California Historical Landmark No. 309. According to the California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation website: Portions of five units of its extensive waterworks, built by Indian labor and preserved in this part, are a filter house, Spanish gristmill, sections of aqueducts, and two reservoirs, the larger of which, built in 1806, is used today as part of the city water system. The fountain and lavadero are nearby, in front of the mission, and a dam built in 1807 is located in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, one and one-half miles up Mission Canyon. Only ruins remain of the mission's pottery kiln, guard house, and tanning vats.

The Mission, located at 2201 Laguna Street, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission for self-guided tours as of January 2019 is $9 for adults (18-64) $7 for seniors (65+) and active military (with ID) and $4 for youth ages 5-17. Parking is free.

Docent-led tours (approximately 60 minutes) on most Mondays through Fridays at 11 am and Saturdays at 10:30 am. Cost for docent-led tours is $13 adults, $11 seniors, active military and $8 for youth ages 5-17. Visit www.santabarbaramission.org or call 805.682.4713 to learn more.

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