Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time

100% of the pictures, text, and information on this page are contained in an incredible 500 page book called, Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time published by the Simi Valley Historical Society and Museum. Patricia Havens' masterful editorial direction and skillful interweaving of the historical text combined with Bill Appleton's unbelievable photographic compilations create probably the most important historical work to ever come out of Simi Valley. If you are a local resident this book is an absolute must! As a matter of fact, if you're an historical buff --- period --- this is a must have! The pictures and information on this page barely scratch the surface of this 8 1/2" X 11", 500 page book chocked full of pictures and information. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Simi Valley Historical Society and Museum, Patricia Havens, and Bill Appleton. Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time is available for purchase in either a soft cover edition or a hardbound edition. Soft  cover is $29.95 plus tax and the hardbound is $49.95 plus tax. The books are available at Strathearn Historical Park.


(Pic 1)There is compelling evidence that Native Americans occupied Simi Valley as far back as 10,000 to 12,000 years. Patricia Havens  in the book Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time makes the observation that "The presence of thread-like clouds that sometimes may be observed in Simi Valley gave rise to its Chumash name, Shimiji because the root of this word [mi] means "thread" in the Ventureno Chumash language. Perhaps the name derived from strands of mist from coastal fog into the Oxnard Plain and wind their way up Calleguas Creek and the Arroyo Las Posas into the Simi Valley. Or perhaps  another weather pattern produces the appearance of wispy clouds in the sky over the valley. The Chumash were keen observers of the natural world and often bestowed their place names according to characteristic phenomena found at particular localities



Place curser over picture for information and picture number.

(Pic 2) The Pacific Coast Stage Line began running over the Santa Susana pass into Simi Valley in 1861 on its route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. (Painting courtesy California Historical Society)

(Pic 3) View of an artesian well on the G.E. Hoar ranch in the central portion of Simi Valley, looking southeast. Taken in 1887, this photograph shows how barren Simi Valley was before the first pioneers started planting orchards.

(Pic 4) Tiburcio Vasquez was one of California's most feared bandits during the 1870s and 1880's. (Courtesy California Historical Society.)

(Pic 5) One of Simi Valley's earliest wood structure houses was located near the corner of what is now Royal Ave. and  Erringer Road. It was built by Pete Browne in the middle 1870s. Browne farmed the western section of the valley. Pictured (l. to r.) Charles Hoar, Juan Pucillo, G.B. McCoy and N.B. Cornett (Photo by C.H. Shaffner)

(Pic 6) "Honest John" Sawtelle (next to sign & on right) opened the first store in Simi in 1888 at the corner of Los Angeles Avenue and Third Street. He advertised "A square meal for 20 cents," which consisted of coffee, fried potatoes, bacon,
and eggs. Sawtelle originally stocked the store with goods purchased in Nebraska and New York, bringing them via "The Horn" to San Pedro. "Honest John" also owned a blacksmith shop and livery stable that were located behind the store and run by his son George. John also carried the mail from San Fernando to the Simi post office in addition to running his business.

(Pic 7) The three story Simi Hotel was without a doubt the most astonishing building to be constructed in Simi Valley until well into the twentieth century. Until that time only a few barns and the simplest of farm buildings had been added to the landscape by the first few American farmers.

Simi Land and Water Company was simply following the lead of other developers in Southern California when they planned the elaborate building. It was a long trip from San Fernando, the closest they could come by rail, over the dangerous stagecoach road. Potential buyers and settlers surely needed the comfort of a good hotel.

(Pic 8) A view of the main business district of the Simi colony looking northeast from Los Angeles Avenue and Fourth Street about 1908. Note the distances to Los Angeles and Ventura marked on the W.S. Keir store front. Mount McCoy is just visible at the center of the picture over the top of the livery stable. (Photo by John Sparhawk Appleton. Courtesy Bill Appleton collection)

(Pic 9) A group of Simi Valley cowboys from the Gillibrand and Patterson ranches in upper Tapo Canyon prepare to ride out for the day's work.

(Pic 10) A view of the first public school in Simi Valley, built in 1890 on the northeast corner of Third Street and California Street in the Simi Colony. The building was torn down in 1926 and a portion of the lumber was used to construct bungalows at the Simi Elementary School in Community Center. Mary Willard Cornett (pictured right) was a favorite teacher at the Simi School who later married California cowboy Frank "Sage" Cornett.

(Pic 11 & 12) Roy "Crash" Corrigan and his horse Flash were always on hand to welcome visitors to Corriganville. The main street was a replica of an old frontier western with buildings that were fully functional and designed for interior and exterior filming making it a Hollywood favorite. In 1953 Corriganville was listed as one of the "Top Ten" places to see in the United States.

(Pic 13) "Hopalong" Cassidy (William Boyd) Filmed many episodes of the famous "Hopalong Cassidy" series in the late 1930s on the Corriganville property.

(Pic 14) John Wayne and "Crash" Corrigan appeared together in the "Three Mesquiteers" series in the late 1930s. This still is from a 1939 production of "The Night Riders."

(Pic 15) Ronald Reagan was featured in several western movies, among which were "Tennessee's Partner" and "Cattle Queen of Montana

(Pic 16) An aerial view of central Simi Valley taken in the early 1960s, looking west where the Tapo Creek crosses under Los Angeles Avenue. Community Center can be seen at the lower left of the photograph as the Arroyo Simi winds along the left side of the picture. Sycamore Drive had not been extended south of Los Angeles Avenue. Note the Vista Tract west of  Sycamore in the center of the photo. (Photo by Mel Aldrich)


All information, pictures, and text published by:

Simi Valley Historical Society & Museum
137 Strathearn Place
Simi Valley, CA 93065

Editorial Direction and Historical Text by Patricia Havens
Photographs Compiled and Edited by Bill Appleton

Simi Valley: A Journey Through Time is available for purchase in either a soft cover edition or a hardbound edition. Soft  cover is $29.95 plus tax and the hardbound is $49.95 plus tax. The books are available at Strathearn Historical Park.