Fireworks Hill in Thousand Oaks Has Hosted the City's Fireworks Show for Decades

So called "Fireworks Hill" is located in the center of Thousand Oaks, enveloped by McCloud Avenue on the northwest, St. Charles Drive on the northeast, Wilbur Road on the east, Marin Street on the south and Hillcrest Drive on the southeast.

The hill is passed by tens of thousands of commuters each day as it can clearly be seen from the 101. 

For decades, the annual City of Thousand Oaks 4th of July Fireworks have been launched from this hill, a 27 acre parcel that was acquired by the City of Thousand Oaks in 1994. According to an April 7, 1994 Los Angeles Times article, the top of the hill was graded three decades prior.

According to minutes from the April 5, 1994 City Council meeting, city council voted by a 3 to 2 vote to acquire the property from the Robert A. Franklyn Estate for $540,000, plus $5,000 in estimated escrow closing costs.

While the general public is not given access to Fireworks Hill on the 4th of July, the fireworks launched from this site can be seen from quite a large radius in the surrounding area. Here's to a great Independence Day!

Independence Day events and activities throughout Ventura County

Fireworks Hill shown here in early January 2016, when three were snow capped peaks in the background.

Fireworks Hill shown here in early January 2016, when three were snow capped peaks in the background.

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 an array of hangars open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Upcoming dates: 7/7/19, 8/4/19, 9/1/19, 10/6/19, 11/3/19, 12/1/19.

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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.

The History of Lake Sherwood

Lake Sherwood as seen from the  Sandstone Peak trail  in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Lake Sherwood as seen from the Sandstone Peak trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Lake Sherwood is an unincorporated community of about 1,500 residents in Ventura County overlooking the Lake Sherwood reservoir. It is south of Thousand Oaks and west of Westlake Village, off of Potrero Road,  accessible via Westlake Boulevard on the east and Wendy Drive and Reino Road in Newbury Park on the west.

For centuries, the Conejo Valley was inhabited by the Chumash. The Spanish came into the picture in the late 18th century and, when passing through what is now Hidden Valley, named the area the Potrero Valley.

The Potrero Valley was part of the original 48,761 acres constituting Rancho El Conejo. After California became the 31st state in 1850, a land commission was appointed to determine who owned land grants in the area.

Rancho El Conejo was sold in 1872 to John Edwards and Howard Mills. Mills received 22,240 acres that included the Potrero Valley in 1874. Mills sold the southeastern 8,476 acres to Joseph and Isabell McLaren Howard in 1875.

Photo of the Howard Ranch in the 1880s. The Howard residence was near where Triunfo Park is today in Westlake Village. (Courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens Collection; Thousand Oaks Library Special Collections.)

Photo of the Howard Ranch in the 1880s. The Howard residence was near where Triunfo Park is today in Westlake Village. (Courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens Collection; Thousand Oaks Library Special Collections.)

In 1888, the Howards sold the land to the Banning Company of Long Beach. In 1896, W. H. Matthiessen bought the Potrero Ranch from Banning. Then in 1904, Matthiessen built a 45 foot dam (originally called Alturas Dam) that created Potrero Lake (also referred to as Lake Matthiessen). Total capacity of the 156 acre lake, which today is called Lake Sherwood, is 877 million gallons of water.

In the early 1920s, the area around the lake was transformed into Sherwood Forest for the filming of Robin Hood, featuring Douglas Fairbanks. And of course that's where the name Lake Sherwood originated.

Meanwhile, W. H.'s son F. W. "Christy" Matthiessen married Elsie Mack in 1917. The couple made plans to develop the surrounding area as the Las Turas Lake Club in the 1920s. Except...they divorced in 1925, with Elsie receiving the portion of the ranch with the lake.

Elsie remarried. Her new husband's name was James Canterbury and briefly the lake became Lake Canterbury. After the stock market crash of 1929, the Canterburys sold the property to William Randolph Hearst. Hearst allowed the property to be used for filming of many films, including the 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood.

In 1963, Dayton Realty purchased the lake and surrounding property. Dayton wanted to rezone the land to develop nearly 1,400 homes and commercial properties. This plan was fought off by local residents and rejected by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

From late 1983 to summer 1984, Dayton drained the lake, indicating that it needed to test the dam...which never happened...then never refilled the lake, leaving thousands of fish stranded and left to die in the mud. (Photo of draining of lake in January 1984)

Lake Sherwood was made available to the public after the depression of the 1930s until the lake was emptied in 1984.

A view of Lake Sherwood from the north off of Lake Sherwood Drive.

A view of Lake Sherwood from the north off of Lake Sherwood Drive.

In 1985, billionaire businessman David Murdock bought the dry Lake Sherwood lake bed and surrounding property.  His Ventura Farms and Lake Sherwood Ranch are on the old F. W. Matthiessen property in Hidden Valley.

In 1986, heavy rains filled Lake Sherwood back up, though it would take many years for the lake to regain the wildlife it lost after it was emptied.

Murdock developed the community with over 650 homes in three gated neighborhoods along with the Sherwood Country Club and Sherwood Lake Club. The lake is now privately owned and is not open to the general public. 

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

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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

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.

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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 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.

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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.