Westlake Village, California
Straddling L.A. country and Ventura county, Westlake Village has a population around 8,473 as of the 2014 census (8,368 in 2000). This planned community’s incorporated city is positioned on the eastern edge, which is within the western section of L.A. county, California. The city within the area is called Conejo Valley, making up half of Westlake Lake’s surroundings, along with smaller neighborhoods east of La Venta Dr. and south of Route 101.
Dole Food Company has their headquarters positioned within Westlake Village. Originally, the community had been called just ‘Westlake’. However, in 1968 and 1972, two-thirds of the area had been annexed in two sections by Thousand Oaks. Meanwhile, the last section was incorporated in 1981 as ‘City of Westlake Village’.
Roughly 3,000 years ago, the first settlers of the area were the Chumash Indians, particularly the Hipuk settlers. They surivived by hunting wild game and rabbits, collecting acorns and grains. There have been findings provided by archaeological sites, excavations, and polychrome rock paintings that help shine a light to the economic and social complexity of the region and ancient Chumash period.
In 1770, the initial Europeans visited the region. Traveling west to east, missionaries and Spanish explorers led by Captain Gasper de Portola had camped hear a Chumash village. This area is now thought to be current day Westlake Village. It was written by Father Juan Crespi, the expedition’s diarist and chaplain that ‘We’re located on a considerable plain of beauty, with forest of oak trees, water and pasturage.” He later refers to the location as “El triunfo del Dulcisimo Nombre de Jesus when making camp next to a creek, now known as Triunfo Canyon Road between Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks. The English translation of this is “The triumph of the Sweetest Name of Jesus).
In 1795, a Spanish land grant was provided to the Pico family, making Rancho Simi one of Spanish land grants given. After Mexico won their independence from Spain during 1821, then Alta California transitioned into a Mexican territory. In 1842, the Rancho Simi grant had been confirmed.
In 1850, California had been admitted to union, with the majority of land becoming Ventura County later on, being divided between 19 families. Located between Rancho Las Virgences and Rancho El Conejo, Westlake Village’s picturesque future had been considered the central section of the two Mexican land grants.
In 1881, a large part of land was bought by the Russell brothers for a cattle ranch. According to family descendant and historian Patricia Allen, Russell had used a buckboard to make a 15 minute trip across the 6,000 acres of land to beat competition, sealing the land purchase with a $20 gold piece. At the time, it was $2.50 per acre. Until being sold in 1925, the would become known as the Russell Ranch. In 1925, the ranch was bought by William Randolph Hearst, then in 1943 it was sold to Fred Albertson.
Part of the land had been leased back by the Russel family to continue the success of the operational cattle ranch, meanwhile the Albertson Company used most of the region for a movie ranch. Various TV shows had been filmed there, including King Rat, Robin Hood, Laredo, and various episodes of Buck Rogers, Tarzan, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke. In addition, Danger Ahead (1940) filming took place on Westlake Blvd.
“City History”. City of Westlake Village. Retrieved June 15, 2009.