Who Made the Grade?

July 18, 2012
Santa Paula News

Hear the surprising story of how five families of stubborn Norwegian immigrants and their equally stubborn mules built what’s still known as the Norwegian Grade.

Learn more at The Mules That Made the Grade: Building the Norwegian Grade, presented at the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula on Saturday, August 11 at 2:00 p.m.

Gerald “Gerry” Olsen, grandson of one of these original families, details how this small group of Conejo Valley farmers created a new, safer and quicker route to market. The talk is included with the price of general admission; museum members are free. Seating is limited; so reservations are recommended. To RSVP call 805-525-3100. 

In the late nineteenth century, accidents and injuries were common on the switchbacks of the Conejo, Butterfield Stage and Potrero grades, which were the only available routes to haul hay to farmers and grain to the Hueneme wharf from the Conejo Valley. Between 1900 and 1911, five families of Norwegian immigrants took matters into their own hands and built a better route. County Supervisors gave $60 for dynamite, the farmers and their mules provided the labor, and the safer Norwegian Grade was carved out.

The Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula, California, in their historic downtown, near the Depot and next to the railroad tracks. Hours are 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors, $1 children 6-17, free for Museum of Ventura County members, and for children ages 5 and younger. On first Sundays of the month, general admission is always free. For more information, go to www.venturamuseum.org or call (805) 525-3100.

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