The Story Behind the Photo: Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad

Submitted by Fun at Foster on August 6, 2020 - 3:26pm

Hello again my name is David and I am a Library Tech at E.P. Foster Library and amateur photographer.

This is the story behind the photo.

This is a photo of a railroad crossing signal which I believe is one of a few artifacts left from the Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad. I also noticed some isolated railroad tracks just a bit further up the bike trail.

The location of the crossing signal is near the Ojai Valley Bike Trail. The bike trail follows what once was the trackbed of the V&OVR. It's sort of hidden in plain sight. I only noticed the crossing because the signal door was ajar.

With some research using library materials, I discovered quite a bit about the V&OVR. 

March 12th of 1898 was the debut of the now-defunct railroad line. Both passengers and freight were transported to what was known as Nordoff, now known as Ojai. 

The proximity of the railway to the Ventura River proved troublesome, flooding was common. In  1914 floods caused major damage to the tracks. 

As automobiles became the preferred mode of transportation passenger service dwindled and freight became the mainstay of the railroad.

Floods entered the picture once again in January of 1969 and caused major damage to the tracks and washed out a trestle. This was pretty much the end of the line for the V&OVR. 

Currently, it is a fantastic bike trail rich with pockets of local history.

A couple of titles I would like to recommend, California railroads : an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, short lines, streetcar, switching, and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992) and for the younger folks, The little engine that could.

Thank you and keep reading.

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