Hillside Letters in the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County

There are over 500 hillside letters, or “mountain monograms,” in the United States, including 81 in California. What are hillside letters, you ask. They are simply large single letters, abbreviations and sometimes even messages erected on a hillside, usually by a school or town.

The Big “C” overlooking UC Berkeley (From Wikipedia; public domain)

The Big “C” overlooking UC Berkeley (From Wikipedia; public domain)

One well known hillside letter is a giant concrete block letter “C” built in the hills overlooking UC Berkeley that was constructed on March 23, 1905.

We have our share of hillside letters here in the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County, some of which you may be aware of…others, perhaps not.

The mountain monograms visible in our neck of the wood include:

The letters CLU on Mt. Clef Ridge above Cal Lutheran University are maintained by students.

Hilltop A overlooking Agoura High School up a steep hill. Made out of wood, I believe.

Here is a view of the letter VC north of Ventura College in late April 2019.

Here is a view of the letter VC north of Ventura College in late April 2019.

If you drive north up Catalina Street, west of Ventura High School, you will be able to see this letter V on the hillside.

The letter F is located in the hills west of Fillmore and is quite easy to see.

This letters SP letters in the hills south of Santa Paula is cleared brush. They originated originated in 1922. More information on THIS PAGE.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley is not a mountain monogram but is perhaps the visible hillside attraction throughout Ventura County.

Over 25 Things to Do in Agoura Hills

Agoura Hills Sign.JPG

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

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.

Northbound PCH Just South of Mugu Rock: 1950 and 2019

Mugu Rock came into existence in 1940 when a 200 foot cut was made into the mountain. Today it is an iconic scene that is often seen in auto commercials.

Taken on July 2, 1950, this is a view of Mugu Rock from the shoulder of northbound Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1). From a private collection. And below it is the same view, remarkably similar, 69 years later, on April 20, 2019. Thankfully, some things never change.

Mugu Rock 7.2.50.jpg
Mugu Rock 4.20.19.JPG

Hillside Letters "SP" on South Mountain in Santa Paula

Santa Paula SP 1.JPG

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 schoolers made the trek up the mountain to carve the letters.

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.

Santa Paula SP 2.JPG

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

Mugu Rock Then and Now

Mugu Rock is a large rock formation that was formed when a 200 foot deep cut was made into the rocky ridge was made from October 1937 to February 1940. Prior to the modern day PCH at Mugu Rock (at the time called U.S. 101 Alternate (State Route 60), drivers went around a 275 foot radius curve that is now fenced off.

The photos in the video above from the October 1940 edition of California Highways and Public Works show what it looked like before, during and after the cut was made, compared to what it looks like today.

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.