The following article was first run in the Thursday, November 9, 1961 edition of “THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS” (“ALL THE NEWS AND VIEWS of Oak View”) in the “B” section. It is reprinted here with their permission.


With the influx of families in the Ojai valley increasing each year and with subdivisions sprouting up like mushrooms after a heavy rain, it’s a little difficult for many people to realize that it wasn’t too long ago that the valley was composed mainly of large fruit orchards and a comparatively small number of homes.

One person who can remember vividly what Ojai valley was like back at the turn of the century is Percy Watkins of Oak View. When he moved there with his parents in 1901 from Nebraska, and the existing home was erected on a level plateau east of the present business district, the only other place of any consequence in the area was a cider mill.

Watkins is frank, too, in drawing a comparison of that era with today.

“Frankly,” he says, “I prefer the old days when land sold for $125 per acre and there wasn’t the hustle and bustle there is today. My place today, “he added, ” is completely surrounded by subdivisions. This has more or less forced me to do the same thing with the land I have.”


Watkins admits however, that things weren’t exactly easy the first decade or so of the family’s existence in Oak View. His father, H. L. Watkins, established a broom factory in a barn on the property in an effort to bring in enough money to keep things on an even keel.

The broom factory was then one of the few on the Pacific coast and consisted of a press manufactured in an Ojai machine shop, a treadle and a few other appurtenances necessary to turn out a finished product. Broom corn, raised on the Watkins property, furnished the bristles for the brooms, but the wood for the handles had to be shipped in. The whole Watkins family, including two boys and six girls, pitched in to aid in the manufacture of the brooms.

Watkins recalls today how he set for hours on a box twisting and pulling on broom corn — an operation necessary to get the bristles in proper alignment for fastening to the handles.

It was also necessary to use stout string to bind the broom bristles together and in the early days this was accomplished by hand-sewing — a task Watkins says was extremely difficult on the hands even though a metal guard was used. A large homemade hand-press was used to crush the broom straw into a flattened aspect prior to sewing.


When enough brooms were manufactured, the next and most important step was to sell them. This was done in the early days by use of a horse and wagon and calling on homes. Watkins recalls that many days were spent from early dawn until dusk calling on homes as far away as Santa Barbara — a long distance in these days of slow transportation.

Brooms then sold for fifty cents each or if the customer wished a bargain, three for $1.25. “We didn’t get rich at it,” Watkins said, “but we managed to make a living.”

That business venture lasted until the early 1940s and then folded forever, with the death of Watkins’ father. Modern machine methods employed in factories and the emergence of grocery stores within easy driving distance of homes saw to that.

At one end of Watkin’s yard today mementos of days gone by are pretty well in evidence. Old model cars, trucks and outdated machinery items give mute testimony to the early days of the Ojai valley. Outside the yard in the large field where the subdivision will no doubt come into being one of these days, two sleek horses roam rather abjectly. Their days no doubt are numbered.

PERCY WATKINS operates a hand-made press he used in the manufacture of brooms at Oak View a half-century ago.

Rampaging storm damages valley

The following article was first run in the Sunday, February 12, 1978 edition of “The OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the front page. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Grand Avenue after the storm: LOOKING EAST up Grand Avenue Friday across what was once the little “dip” in the road. The flood ravaged homes when the barranca broke its banks. (Seba photo)

Rampaging storm damages valley

— Wind, flooding rampant —
Polly Bee

Ojai Valley geared for a possible repeat of the devastating floods of 1969 after a storm roared through Thursday night, dumping nearly nine inches of water in 24 hours and leaving a wake of destruction.

Undersheriff John Gillespie, as Disaster Services Chairman, declared a state of emergency Friday morning, and supervisors called an emergency session for Monday, Feb. 13 to assess damage. If destruction is as severe as it appeared Friday noon, the county could be declared a disaster area to make it eligible for state and federal assistance.

AT PRESS TIME the rampaging Ventura River, San Antonio, Lion, Matilija, and Thacher Creeks still threatened homes and property. The valley’s water supply was cut off near Casitas Springs, electricity was still out to many homes, a gas main, bridge, and sewer lines were endangered on Creek Road.

Witnesses said four homes washed into Matilija Creek in Matilija Canyon and were destroyed, at least four homes in the East End were severely damaged when Thacher Creek jumped its banks, one man died of a heart attack while sandbagging his home in Siete Robles, and eight persons were airlifted from Matilija Canyon.

MATILIJA DAM on Thursday afternoon. The “notch” in the dam was cut as a safety measure some years ago. Four homes were lost up the canyon. (Horner photo)

A BARGE carrying a backhoe was swept over Matilija dam, the barge eventually wedging against a gate at the Los Robles diversion dam causing a build-up of tree limbs and debris. The diversion pond in front of the canal gates completely silted so that water roared unchecked down the river. Crews were taken out Thursday night at the diversion canal because of hazardous conditions.

The Red Cross set up evacuation headquarters at Nordhoff High School to assist persons forced from their houses. At least 20 homes were abandoned in the Riverside and Santa Ana Boulevard area in Oak View after firemen and sheriff’s deputies issued warnings. Trailers in the Arroyo Trailer Park at Casitas Springs — hard hit in 1969 — were pulled away from the river bed, as floodwaters eroded embankments.

Innumerable trees toppled and power lines failed. The Edison Company said that 30,000 customers were out of service in the county Thursday night. Service still had not been restored to 5,000 by Friday noon. Officials said that power outages were greatest in the Ojai Valley because of falling trees.

AT SOULE GOLF Course floodwaters threatened the No. 5 green and took out part of the No. 10 fairway. Crossings teetered dangerously, and numerous small trees crashed. A big oak by the No. 5 green fell, as did several behind the No. 9 tee. On Friday the course was still too wet for crews to thoroughly assess damage.

Schools closed Friday because of flooded grounds and hazardous road conditions. They will remain closed Monday because of the Lincoln birthday holiday.

GRAND AVENUE bridge linking the East End to the city was isolated when San Antonio Creek washed out one approach. Roads throughout the valley were closed at intervals as streams and barrancas rampaged over culverts and bridges.

Highway 150 was closed from Lake Casitas to the county line, and from Gorham Road to Santa Paula at the height of the storm. In Upper Ojai water poured over the Ferndale bridge, which was seriously threatened. Mudslides closed Highway 33 at Wheeler Gorge.

Dead of an apparent heart attack from sandbagging his home is Wesley Frazee of 386 Avenue de la Vereda. Frazee died while trying to protect his property from floodwaters pouring off Ojai Avenue, according to reports.

Ojai’s police department was bombarded incessantly with calls reporting power outages, falling trees, flooding conditions, wind, and lightning. Public Works Director Barry Lockton said an estimated 70-100 trees and branches were reported down throughout the city. Extensive debris compounded drainage problems.

At least two Ojai homes were inundated, Lockton said. One was at the corner of Grand and Shady Lane and another in the Golden West tract. Friday roads were thick with slippery mud to make driving extremely hazardous.

ROBERT MCKINNEY, general manager of the Casitas Municipal Water District, issued a press release Friday afternoon to announce a break in the 42-inch water line that serves the entire Ojai Valley. The rupture occurred south of Casitas Springs, and the mainline was shut down Friday morning. Water in storage tanks, however, could serve valley needs for several days while a bypass line is constructed, McKinney said. Valleyites were asked to use water sparingly until full service is restored, however.

At the Grand Avenue bridge in the East End, another CMWD line was also endangered. Plans were underway to bypass it Friday with an additional line, McKinney said.

Only about 50 cubic feet of water was being diverted from the Ventura River through the Los Robles Diversion Canal Friday because of debris piled up against gates. Normally 500 cubic feet would be sent down the canal, McKinney said.

Sheriff’s deputies and firemen were called to the aid of a man in Matilija Canyon Friday night when his home was flooded. Mudslides blocked the canyon road, however, and it was not until Friday morning that the man could be flown out when eight were airlifted.

About 20 other residents elected to stay in their homes in Matilija canyon, although a major mudslide blocks access. How long it will take to remove that block was not known Friday.

The storm dumped 10.36 inches of rain in Ojai, (6.77 inches in a 24 hour period) for a total of 32.15 inches for the season. Some 13.25 inches were recorded at the Summit station for the storm total, bringing the season to date there to 31.42 inches. In Oak View, only 7.55 inches of water fell during the storm, for a season total of 28.81.

Our problem: growth

The following article was first seen in the Thursday, May 24, 1962 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the “OPINION PAGE” (Page A-2). It is reprinted here with their permission. It was an “EDITORIAL”, and the author is unknown.

Our problem: growth

A recent population analysis issued by the Ventura county planning staff revealed that the “Ojai planning area,” comprising Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Oak View, was growing slightly faster in the period April 1, 1961 – April 1, 1962, than the county average and about twice the rate of growth of the State of California.

Figures showed the county rate of growth as just over seven percent. This compares with an average of six percent the previous year. This is in line with recently-released statistics which told that Ventura had become the second-fastest growing county in the Los Angeles complex, second only to Orange. Its jump of over one percent in a year presages an increase year by year.

In the Ojai planning area the trend was slightly higher than the county average. We inched upwards to an eight-plus population increase this year. With plenty of land and water available, no slackening in this trend is in sight. No impenetrable barricades will be stretched across Highway 399 on the Arnaz grad or across other access, the Upper Ojai. Employees of the industries moving into the Tri-Cities, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks area will drive here some Sunday afternoon, fall in love with the valley and buy a home. Father will join the roughly 50 percent of the present commuters who live here and work elsewhere.

Another pertinent statistic came to light in the county survey. The highest rate of growth in the county was in the Simi planning area — a remarkable 27 percent increase. Second was Camarillo with 15 percent. Ojai was third at eight-plus.

A look at a county map at this point is revealing. Growth, which has been coming in the past from commuters who work in the Ventura area, will soon make a pincer movement into the valley via the Upper Ojai. Planners count on the development of the large ranches of the Casitas lake perimeter, but the Upper Ojai and even East Ojai’s proximity to the 27 percent increase of the planning area is even more startling. This is where growth is spilling over from the San Fernando valley coming this way along a Santa Susana-Simi-Moorpark — Santa Paula line.

Incidentally, great efforts are being made in Santa Paula to obtain industries. And, down the road a few miles in the Tri-Cities of El Rio, Montalvo and Saticoy, vast acreages are zoned industrial. Recently a 133 acre piece was sold to heavy industry.

Far from Ojai? Not really. From the Tri-Cities it is just as close to Ojai via Santa Paula as it is through Ventura. The same goes for Fillmore, which is due for San Fernando growth.

So here is our problem: proximity to growth. And, to a certain extent the cause of our present problems, for the valley has been growing steadily for a number of years. But the rate is accelerating — probably never to runaway proportions — but nevertheless as consistent as the rising sun. The population should inexorably double in ten years.

So, the future is already upon us. What to do about it?

The obvious answer: plan. The not-so-obvious answer: make decisions.

And, we mean make decisions now. Every decision deferred now means time that cannot be retrieved . . . . more pressure on the day when action is overdue, when action will be forced under pressure, perhaps under controversy, and always under haste, and extra expense.

Honestly now, wouldn’t our valley be a better place to live — a better planned community, if governmental bodies had been ready for growth, such as subdivisions, then years ago.

Only fast, massive, intelligent action on Ojai’s master plan, and by the county on the unincorporated sections of the valley (which are exceptionally vulnerable) can save the valley from a fate it does not want — or deserve.

Maynard brings back memories

The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, January 9, 1985 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-10. It is reprinted here with their permission.


Maynard brings back memories
Nancy Breese

It will be a great get-together for a great cause Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Nordhoff High gym when popular jazz musician Maynard Ferguson is presented in concert, to help raise funds for the valley’s annual summertime gala — the Fourth of July celebration. Oak Viewians have always been very much a part of the day-long festivities. The Oak View Women’s Club, individual horseback riding groups, 4-H Clubs, Little League, Civic Council, and the Oak View Lions Club have, through the years, been caught up in the spirit of the day, and many local youngster and adult has added a page to his memory book from parade-day experiences. Marge Hatton was kind in providing the following “trips down Memory Lane.”

“Barbara Smith particularly recalls the year of the Bicentenial, 1976, when she was chairman of the prize-winning Oak View Women’s Club float “100 years of Womanhood.” Well over 1,000 tissue-paper flowers of red, white, and blue adorned the float. So you can imagine the chagrin of this energetic group including, among others, Lovell Willis (then president and now living in Visalia), Anne Gutierrez (still an exceptionally active member and officer) and Judy Dickens (now of Ojai) when the fog came rolling in late the night of July 3. The dyed paper in the flowers began to weep — and so did the participants. Smith, always ingenious when it comes to “saving the day” under pressure, remembered the giant parachute her family used for camping, located it, and covered the mammoth flower-covered canopy for the night. Needless to say, all turned out beautifully.

“THIS WAS by no means a first parade experience for Smith. In the mid-60s, her husband Mike enlisted her help in using his entire baseball team, on which her son, Mike, Jr. (Butch), was a player, and setting up a baseball diamond on their float, with a game in full swing. In 1970, daughter Wilma, now grown and still a valley resident, walked the Indian pony “Judo,” ridden by owner, daughter of Jim and Loretta Wagoner, who was 11 years old at the time. The girls not only walked the parade route, but also walked to and from their homes on Valley View — approximately eight miles each way!

“Oak Viewan Kathy Moore and Topa Topa 4-H Club leader Kathy Caywood really had their hands full getting kids and animals (including a tiny bottle-fed lamb of Merilee Sherman’s) organized at the parade grounds last year.

“With a giant wedding cake as a central point, a miniature “bride and groom” had a slight difference of opinion. No problem for four-year-old Brandi Azevedo, daughter of Rick and Linda Azevedo, who has been center-stage often as a frequent beauty contestant and winner. But five-year-old “groom” Brian Haley, son of Roger and Chris Haley, decided that darn “thing” was just too far up in the sky for him. Leaders and parade assistants, including Shari Skinner and Linda Warner, finally convinced him all would be well. It was, until the float started to move and Tamara Caywood, trying to retrieve an American flag that was taking off for the “wild blue yonder,” nearly tumbled off the tractor herself.

“The Old-Time Fiddlers’ Association, with cut-up Larry Shellnut, was a popular entry in the mid-70s with their fiddling and outhouse antics. Another popular group was the 3/4 Midget Racers with Rick Taylor and several other drivers from the California Motor Association. Local Shriner Milt Taylor and his wife Marge, who have a miniature antique car, have been in more parades than they can remember and could fill a book with happy anecdotes.

“THE PARADE grounds on Country Club Drive are a hub-bub of activity for hours before the parade. Two yeas ago, three-year-old Danny Jones, son of Randy and Jenice Jones, wore himself out (not really, Danny never wears himself out) running back and forth, trying to decide whether to ride with his mom on the Oaks fitness float (where there was lots of action), or on the Century 21 Little House float filled with youngsters three to eight years old. After being boosted innumerable times off the ground onto the Century 21 float, he decided that’s where he would stay. He did — until the parade was underway, and he THEN realized he should’ve located the outhouse when he was on the ground. 6’3″ Century 21 broker Bruce Hibberd came to the rescue and air-lifted Danny off and back on again.

“LAST YEAR the Jones’ rode together on an entry from their own Flexation Fitness Center. They are just one of the Oak View families who consider Ojai Valley’s Independence Day celebrations “the greatest.” They whole-heartedly support the Maynard Ferguson benefit concert — for two reasons, not the least of which is that they are avid fans of Ferguson.

“Tickets for the concert are available at the Fitness Center, 655 Monte Via St., and at the Century 21 offices in Oak View and Ojai. It’s an entertainment bargain at $6.50 per person. Newspaper editor Earl Reeves once stated, “A boom and a sparkling burst in the night sky may not make a whole lot of fiscal sense, but it does wonders for one’s morale and sense of tradition.”

“Oak View and the Ojai Valley’s morale is good, their sense of tradition intact. Indications are that locals will turn out in force to hear Maynard Ferguson an Jan. 19. It’s certainly an easy, enjoyable way to suppost a worthwhile cause.”

Thank you, Marge. I really appreciate your contribution! Have any news you’d like to share? Please call me at 649-9416.

Nancy Breese


The following article first appeared in the Thursday, Sep. 11, 1958 (Vol. 1, No. 35) edition of THE SENTINEL. THE SENTINEL was purchased by the Ojai Valley News. The article is reprinted here with the permission of the Ojai Valley News. The author is Percy G. Watkins.

by Percy G. Watkins

(continued from last week)


As the road to Nordhoff (Ojai) in 1900 passed La Crosse, (near Casitas Springs), it followed the railroad tracks to pass the home of Ed Goodyear, son of the man who owned part of the Arnaz Ranch at that time.

Here the road split. The Nordhoff Road turned to cross the railroad to go up the San Antonio Creek Valley. The other road went straight up the Ventura River Valley.

After passing the Goodyear home (built like so many of the houses that were here at that time) the traveler passes a large barn which was across highway 399 from the present Rancho Arnaz Cider Mill. West of it, the road wound up to the top of the hill to the farm land of Ed Goodyear (which now belongs to Henry Olivas). Mr. Goodyear was killed on this grade a few years later after being run over by a wagon loaded with corn.

The road then proceed up the Creek past a house which belonged to a man named Amesbury. He was, I think, one of the members of the crew who was drilling the oil well Van Epps managed. This house, and the land which belonged to it was sometimes known as the Harmison Ranch. Alfalfa grew on this land. (It’s now known as the Littlefield Ranch).

The road again leads to Ranch No. 1, with its No. 1 well flowing sulphur water. Beyond the barn and shop stood the house Tom Bard built to house and feed the men associated with him in drilling California’s first drilled oil well.

Across the Creek was the Arnaz School (Oak View’s first school), which was built in 1883 and is still standing. (It is now occupied by the N. Amescua’s). Not far from this point, the road forked and the Creek Road continued on up the San Antonio Creek Valley. And the other one went up the old grade to what is now the central part of Oak View.

At this point was a row of mail boxes which marked the end of the Ventura Star Route. An old fashioned steel-perforated sign indicated the distance to Ventura and to Nordhoff by both routes. A U.S. Geodetic Survey marker stood at this point.    (to be continued)

January 1969 Rainfall and Resulting Damage

Fifty years ago, the Ojai Valley, as well as, all of Ventura County, was drenched by records amount of rain that resulted in the loss of life and millions of dollars of damage to public and private property.  The following two articles first appeared in the Wednesday, January 29, 1969 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A1. They are reprinted here with the permission of the “Ojai Valley News”. The author of the first article is unknown.  Photos have been added by the Ojai Valley Museum.  Some of the photos were taken in January and others in February of 1969.    

The rainfall — this
is how it happened

On January 17 only 6 inches of rain had pattered on the valley. It looked like a dry year.

On January 29 over 30 inches had fallen from two Pacific storms.

The first storm started in earnest a week before last Saturday. When it ended in a drizzle six days later, over 12 inches of rain had fallen. However the valley was still in pretty good shape and Lake Casitas was storing 150,000 acre feet water for future use. Barrancas, creeks and rivers were running with a heavy winter flow.

Then it happened. Within the next 24 hours seven inches landed on the valley – double and triple that in the mountain areas – from a tropical storm.

Saturday morning, barrancas burst, creeks overflowed, and the river went wild, causing the biggest disaster in the history of the valley.

“GIVE ME MY BOOTS N’ SADDLE” was “Give me my boat n’ paddle” for Elmer Myatt of Kim Engineering and Lothar Herrman, who decided to have a little outing during the big rain Sunday night. Our photographer caught them preparing to wade to the restaurant for a coffee break. The white spots in the photo are rain drops on the camera lens. The water was nearly two feet deep for a couple of blocks along Ojai Avenue. (From Wed., Jan. 22, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette”; Page A-4)

Here’s the day-by-day rainfall:

OJAI:                                                                             1969
January 17 ………………………………………………………………… 6.05
Januray 18 ………………………………………………………………… 6.54
January 19 …………………………………………………………………10.47
January 20 …………………………………………………………………14.05
January 21 …………………………………………………………………18.61
January 22 …………………………………………………………………19.12
January 23 …………………………………………………………………19.22
January 24 …………………………………………………………………21.64
January 25 …………………………………………………………………28.64
January 26 …………………………………………………………………29.94
January 27 …………………………………………………………………29.94
January 28 …………………………………………………………………30.23
January 29 …………………………………………………………………30.23
OAK VIEW                                                                     1969
January 17 ………………………………………………………………….. 5.97
January 18 …………………………………………………………………..
January 19 ………………………………………………………………….. 8.87
January 20 …………………………………………………………………..16.48
January 21 …………………………………………………………………..20.07
January 22 …………………………………………………………………..20.65
January 23 …………………………………………………………………..20.65
January 24 …………………………………………………………………..22.16
January 25 …………………………………………………………………..29.46
January 26 …………………………………………………………………..30.89
January 27 …………………………………………………………………..31.28
January 28 …………………………………………………………………..31.30
January 29 …………………………………………………………………..31.59

Two swimming pools were washed away from homes along San Antonio Creek near Ojai. (Dan Poush photo from “THE GREAT FLOOD VENTURA COUNTY January 1969 February”)

The San Antonio Creek jumped its banks, then ran through Camp Comfort.

Flooding damage at the junction of Hermosa Rd. & Creek Rd. The Ojai Valley Inn golf course is at the right of the photo.

Private residence that was located along Creek Road. The flooding San Antonio Creek demolished it.

Railroad bridge toppled at Casitas Springs by 1969 flooding.


City faces crisis;
$400,000 repairs
Fran Renoe

“Ojai is, of course, a disaster area, and I have proclaimed it as such.” Mayor A. R. Huckins opened the Ojai City Council meeting Monday night with that statement, and the council immediately began discussion of the city’s damages.

Pipe gone

“At this time we have raw sewage dumping into San Antonio Creek. We need to replace 430 feet of sewer line,” City Manager Jack Blalock said, “This is our immediate problem. Then, there’s 500 feel along Creek rd. that is completely gone and at least a mile near Rancho Arnaz, and maybe more. Sewer lines in Meiners Oaks and Oak View are also washed out.

“This 430 feet requires 18-inch pipe, which is terribly expensive. It’s a matter of public safety, and has to be done immediately. We have a representative, John McWherter at a meeting of public works officials in Ventura tonight to find out what we have to do to be eligible for disaster funds and aid in this problem. We feel sure that Ojai will be given high priority in funds and aid,” Blalock said.

Councilman William Burr and Maarten Voogd formed a sub-committee relating to sewer problems and according to Burr, at least 6,000 feet of line is estimated to be lost, in addition to line that has yet to be measured, still covered by water or debris that the committee cannot get to and estimate damage. At this time, however, cost estimates run as high as $400,000. Blalock said that the needed 18-inch pipe runs at least $20 a foot.

Huckins reported that Blalock had ordered part of the sewer system plugged in order to keep out rocks and dirt. Even so, at least one section of sewer line is known to be plugged with debris, and Huckins commented “when that happens, sometimes it is cheaper to just lay another pipe.”

Blalock also needed approval of the council to clear the plugged lines. He said “there is a good possibility that our crew and equipment cannot do the job. We may need to call in a contractor to use jetting action tools. The first manhole just before the 430-foot break is completely filled with mud and we don’t have that kind of equipment.”

“I understand the city is also in the market for a new police car,” commented councilman Loebl.

“Yes, we were almost in the market for a new policeman,” commented Huckins. They were referring to the narrow escape achieved by Gene Meadows when his patrol car was inundated by flood waters just east of San Antonio Creek after the bridge went out.

After some discussion led by Councilman Monroe Hirsch concerning competitive bidding for a new patrol car — he wanted to know if dealers outside of Ojai were invited to bid on new cars — the council approved purchase of a patrol car. Competitive bidding between local Ford and Chevrolet dealers is conducted, with Blalock explaining that in one instance an outside bidder was only $1.75 lower than a local dealer, and that when servicing and repair work had to be done, it was cheaper to buy from a local dealer as the patrol cars could be worked on locally, instead of the police department having to drive the cars to dealers outside the valley.

Canada st.

“Other immediate damage includes street repair, especially Canada st.,” commented Mayor Huckins. “We thought at first the water was coming from the Stewart Canyon storm drain. Now it appears that it is an entirely new stream.”

AFTER THE FIRST RAINSTORM Stewart Canyon basin, built by the federal government as flood control above Canada st,, had reached a peak of 15 feet and here has receded to 11 feet. Water metering tower is well above water level. (from Sun., Feb. 2, 1969 edtion of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette”;Page B-3)

“Parts of Canada are caving in,” Blalock said. “We may lose all of the street as far as Eucalyptus unless we can divert the stream.”

CANADA STREET in Ojai is gradually sinking in places as a result of an underground river which is threatening the walls of the Stewart Canyon concrete tunnel underneath the roadbed. The city recently has believed to have found the source of the water and is bypassing it into the tunnel underneath the street. Only time will tell — and the next big rain — if that is the solution. (from Jan. 15, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette”; Page B-3)

Councilman Burr announced that he and Voogd would be meeting Thursday night with County Public Works staff to see what could be done and what was supposed to be done. Huckins commented that a special meeting of the city council would be called if necessary to expedite authorization for any street work that needed to be done.

“There is a strong possibility we will be able to get disaster funds,” Huckins said. “We certainly can’t float a bond issue at this time and as a public body we can’t borrow from the bank. Therefore, we’ll just have to find out how to get money, then worry about how to pay it back as this is an emergency.”

Councilman Hirsch emphasized that he thought it most important that the city work with the County public health authorities to consult and approve Ojai’s actions before fixing the pipe. He felt this was important in order “not to incur liabilities where the sewage goes out at the downstream area.”

John McWherter, of the Ventura sanitary engineering firm of McCandless-McWherter & Co., arrived to make his report to the council of what had happened at the Monday night meeting in Ventura with State and County public works officials and disaster authorities.

“A Mr. King of the State Emergency Assistance Office in Sacramento met with at least 50 representatives of various city and county staffs to tell us what could be done to correct the flood damage and how to apply for assistance,” McWherter said.

Next meeting

“I brought the council a sample resolution which is to be filled out and presented to the Tri-County meeting of state and federal disaster people at the Federal building at 9 a.m. Saturday.  If Ojai is interested in obtaining assistance we should have this resolution passed upon tonight so it can be presented at that meeting.”

McWherter said he felt that the Ojai sewer system would get top priority, and suggested that a second resolution be passed if any financial aid was to be requested for street damage and repair.

Huckins immediately stated that he was in favor of the resolution to seek sewer aid, but not in favor of asking for street repair aid. “We should not ask for outside aid unless we just can’t handle it ourselves,” Huckins stated.

Burr recommended that a complete report on street damage be compiled including time spent, equipment used, photographic proof, because he felt that such a report would strengthen the cities request if made at a later date. Hirsch and Loebl voted against tabling the street resolution. The council was, however, unanimous in it agreement to collect material to be presented at a later date for financial aid for street repair work.

McWherter stated that as many as 39 state and federal agencies were standing by to provide assistance to those cities and civic agencies needing help.

Federal funds

Hirsch maintained that “it is unfair to have Ojai taxpayers paying into a fund which is used by other cities and not taking advantage of the availability of such funds when offered. I fail to see the value of essentially penalizing a small community such as ours,” Hirsch said.

“We did sustain a disaster and it is going to cost money. I don’t think we would be taking any advantage of financial funds.”

“There’s no question that federal help is needed in the sewer clean-up,” Councilman Voogd said. “But at the same time we have to be very careful to only ask for money when we really need it and after an evaluation of the situation.  If some of these situations are not as crucial as they look then we must judge the degree of crisis. That is on what we should act.”

Other business conducted by the council consisted of approval of minutes from the planning Commission and Architectural Board of Review; approval of resolutions authorizing the preparation of plans and specifications of the Del Norte sewer extension which will service Jim Wyndle’s Richfield Service Station, the Ojai Valley News and the State Equipment Yard near the Y shopping center, plus a resolution to establish an underground utility district — this involves multiple use of a trench by Cable TV, the Edison Company and possibly Pacific Telephone.

The council also approved two ordinances, one adopting a uniform building code and another a uniform plumbing code.

FIXING THE GAS LINE on the Grand Avenue bridge, partially washed out, was this repairman from Southern Counties Gas Tuesday. He was held by the legs by another repairman. Utility company workmen worked round the clock after the storm to restore services in most areas. (Wil Marcus photo); Wed., Jan. 29, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” (Page B-7).

Looking west on Grand Avenue in January 1969.

Grand Avenue bridge damaged by flooding in 1969.

Gridley Road was damaged by the flooding.

ALL THAT REMAINS of Friend’s Packing House up on the Maricopa Highway is resting in the yard of Realtor Jack Gilbert’s home across the highway. Gilbert’s house was also totaled. The packing house was dismembered and washed down across the highway. (From Sun,, Feb. 2, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette”; Page A-6)

Flood damage to the Maricopa Highway across the Ventura River from the Ojala Resort. The bridge leads over the river to Matilija Hot Springs.

Flooding damaged Wheeler Springs which is located along Highway 33 (AKA: Maricopa Highway).

Pony Express Day will be held at Lake Casitas

The following article first appeared in the August 27, 1999 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission.  All photos were added by the Ojai Valley Museum.  Those photos are of items that the Oak View Civic Council possess and which Barbara Kennedy and Leanna Kennedy graciously arranged for the museum to photograph.     

Pony Express Day will be held at Lake Casitas
Lenny Roberts
OVN staff reporter

Oak View’s Pony Express Day, the annual event staged to supplement operating costs for the community’s civic center, has found a permanent home at Lake Casitas.

Pony Express Day reflects the long-gone days when Oak View staged similar events in honor of the unincorporated community, which was a stop on California’s Pony Express route.

In 1995, members of the Oak View Civic Council created Pony Express Day while searching for alternative sources of income to support the recreational and other programs it offers.

After three years of moderate success at the Oak View Community Center, organizers moved the event to the lake in 1998 in an effort to lure more people from Ojai and beyond, according to honorary mayor Barbara Kennedy.

Flyer promoting 1998’s “Pony Express Day”.

“Having it at the lake is a big advantage,” Kennedy said. “We’re expecting 200 to 300 entries for the car show alone and have already received calls from people in Los Angeles who want to enter.

“The Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce is involved and hopefully we’ll get a lot of the Ojai people there.”

Last-minute entries for the 12-category car show, at $25 each, will be accepted until showtime. Trophies will be presented for first and second place, best of show and for the mayor’s favorite entry.

Newspaper ad promoting 1999’s “Pony Express Day”. Local artist Colleen McDougal did the illustration.

“That’s what they tell me — I just pick the one I like,” Kennedy said.

The Ojai Band, which recently concluded its 1999 Wednesday night summer concert series at the Libbey Park bandstand, is scheduled to perform, as are the crowd-pleasing Frontier Gunfighters who stage a series of comical mock shoot-outs against a western-style backdrop.

Also returning is emcee Rick Henderson, the Miss Chili Pepper and Mr. Hot Sauce competitions, the Bronk Vreeland Ojai Ford-sponsored International Chili Society chili cookoff, the Old Time Fiddlers, the Ojai Valley News-sponsored horseshoe tournament, KHAY Radio personalities with live periodic broadcasts and other entertainment yet to be determined.

Notice the sponsors of the 1999 “Pony Express Day”.

For kids of all ages, sno-cones will be provided by the Oak View Lions.

Pony rides and game booths featuring carnival-style competitions will be evident throughout the day, as will Sheriff Department exhibits, including Ojai’s K-9 unit and representatives from the Police Activities League (PAL) and the Ojai Valley’s DARE program.

Kennedy said the availability of booth space is running out for commercial and non-profit vendors. However, there are still some available at $25 for non-profit and $50 for commercial vendors.

There is no charge to attend Pony Express Day, but parking at Lake Casitas is $5 per car.

For additional information or entry forms for any of the events, call Kennedy at 649-2232 or Oak View Civic Council president Leanna Kennedy at 649-9720.

This booklet contained the listing of event sponsors, Schedule of Events, advertisements, and Special Thanks.


This photo was on Page A-1 in the Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001 edition of the Ojai Valley News. Photo by Chris Wilson. The caption read, “MISTY GLENN sits atop Election at Oak View Civic Council’s Pony Express Day corral Saturday afternoon. Terry Kennedy, in cowboy hat, led riders around the corral on Election and Cassie, at right, both owned by Rhonda West of Oak View. This event has been going on for more than 50 years.” Notice the T-shirt Kennedy is wearing.


The following article was on page 2 of the JULY 16, 1948 edition of THE “OJAI.” It is reprinted here with the permission of the Ojai Valley News. The author is unknown.


Enrollment in the kindergarten classes of the Nordhoff Union Elementary School district will be subject to regulations set up by the school board—regulations made necessary by the lack of sufficient kindergarten space, the coming school year, it was announced today.

With two sessions in the Oak View kindergarten and two at Nordhoff, there were not sufficient accommodations last September and there will be more on a waiting list this coming year, since the new kindergarten at Meiners Oaks will not be completed before February of 1949.

However, there is a solution which should work for the possible benefit of the children in their school work, members of the school board agree.

It is generally accepted that the school entrance age in California is too low, most states setting a higher age. By the sixth grade the average age is a year greater in proportion, showing that the average child either starts in later or has not been promoted at the end of one of the school years. The state convention of elementary school principals last April went on record as favoring a five-year entrance age to kindergarten.

Therefore, all children five years of age or older on September 1, 1948, will be admitted to a Nordhoff kindergarten; those from four years and six months to five years, as of September 1, will be placed on a waiting list and after the first day of school those whose ages are greatest will be notified that they may enter, the number allowed to enter depending upon class space still available.

Registration for kindergarteners or other pupils new to the district will be handled in the school office in Ojai beginning August 2. A birth certificate or other official evidence of correct birthdate must be shown to gain enrollment in either kindergarten or first grade. The school office will be open Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 12 noon and 1 to 4 pm beginning with August 2. In general, the school office will be closed during the month of July.

For the convenience of Oak View children, registration there will be conducted on or about September 1 at that school; an announcement will be given later, after Mrs. Ethel Eitens, principal, has returned from her summer school work. Casitas Springs children will enroll the first day of school, September 13.

Photo: Ojai Train at Devil’s Gulch

These pictures are from the book Southern Pacific’s Scenic Coast Line – A Color Pictorial by Tom Dill. They were taken by Stan Kisler. The last steam run up the Ojai Branch occurred on May 22, 1955.  This was an early form of “push-pull” operation with the 2771 on one end and the 2367 on the other as the special works up the steep grade on the big fill near Oak View.”

Thanks to Brian Aikens for this photograph!

Oak View Fire Station 23

History Fire Station 23, Oak View by Ventura County Fire Department

Oak View’s first fire station was established in 1938, when the County Fire Protection District delivered a flat bed Chevy truck, with a 300-gallon water tank and a 500 gallon-per-minute pump driven by a Chrysler auxiliary engine, to the Oak View Road station. A small amount of hose was also carried on the truck.

In 1946, Engineer Wayne Troxell was put in charge of the Oak View station and its volunteer group.

The title, Engineer, was later changed to Captain and the titles of the four Captains in charge of the four districts in the county were changed to Battalion Chief. The Engineer’s title was not used again until 1962.

At that time working hours were reduced from four 24-hour days on and 48-hours off to a schedule of two 24-hour days, one eight-hour day on, and 48-hours off. The new engineer position covered the station Captain’s two days off and worked with the Captain only eight hours of his three days on.

Troxell, his wife, and children lived in a small trailer parked behind the station. In 1948 a new two-stall fire station with living quarters for Wayne and his family was built at 15 Kunkle Street in Oak View. In 1952, Troxell resigned and built a number of buildings and homes in the county, including Station 20 and Station 35.

Glen Tremain, the second man hired for Oak View, lived at the station with his wife in an eight-by-ten room, cooking meals on a small two-burner stovetop.

Glen served the district for a number of years until he retired as Captain of the Ojai fire station.

The Oak View fire station has the distinction of owning the first resuscitator unit in service in the fire district. Donated by the local Lions Club, it marked the beginning of other service clubs donating resuscitators to their local fire stations.

In 2000 the station was demolished for today’s Station 23 on the same site. The crew operated out of a trailer across Kunkle Street, in a vacant lot, until the new station was finished.