Gerry Olsen Ventura County’s Western Grades
September 28 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Even a decade ago, if you owned a late model car and resided in the western half of Ventura County, you might have felt the urge to gun the engine, hold your breath, and pray that your vehicle would make it up the whopping seven percent Conejo Grade.
Further north, you may have also found yourself journeying up and down the so- called Norwegian Grade. What you may not have realized about what is now a gradually ascending and descending road is that between 1900 and 1911, Norwegian pioneers and their workers carved the two-mile stretch of what is now Moorpark Road out of a steep hillside—totally by hand. These pioneers used nothing more than their own picks, shovels, and ordinary farm equipment to provide a safer route for transporting hay, wheat and barley to the western end of Ventura County—especially to the farmers on the Oxnard Plain and the ships tied up to the Hueneme Wharf.
Gerry Olsen has published a biography about his Norwegian immigrant grandparents, Nils and Ellen Olsen, who settled in the Conejo Valley during the late 1880s.
He is a former public information office for the Ventura Community College District, a member of the Camarillo Ranch Foundation, and retired newspaperman. He is also the author of Don Adolfo Camarillo: A Living Legend, which was released just in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Don Adolfo Camarillo’s birth.