2016-07-22 / Community

Remembering the past

Resident writes book on city’s early days
By Caitlin Trude

HISTORY BUFF—Mike Winters recently published his book “Moorpark,” at left. A part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, the book offers a pictorial history of the city’s earliest years. HISTORY BUFF—Mike Winters recently published his book “Moorpark,” at left. A part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, the book offers a pictorial history of the city’s earliest years. Lifelong Moorpark resident Mike Winters has watched his hometown mature from a farming hamlet into a small city.

“When I was growing up, (there were) a lot of crops being grown in the Peach Hill area and Mountain Meadows and even right outside of downtown Moorpark,” said the vice president and historian for the Moorpark Historical Society.

The 49-year-old said his parents, Larry and Nancy Winters, moved from Ohio to Thousand Oaks in 1960 but, after seeing a real estate ad for a half-acre property along Hitch Boulevard in Moorpark, they decided to move again the following year to start a small farm.

“I grew up (doing) 4-H and had a great childhood,” Winters recalled.

MICHAEL COONS Acorn Newspapers MICHAEL COONS Acorn Newspapers A former history teacher at Mesa Verde Middle School and now Moorpark Unified’s director of information technology, Winters said he enjoys reflecting on his childhood in Moorpark and on the life of the city as a whole.

When he taught, he said, he would begin the first class of the year by asking his students what they knew about their hometown’s past.

He found many of his students knew very little about their city, which prompted him two years ago to start writing a book about Moorpark’s early days.

Winters said the last book written about the city’s history was published more than 40 years ago and, with few photographs, it was “very text-intensive.” He wanted to write an updated history of Moorpark that would be visually appealing.

“I’m used to reading narrative works on history, but I think for the average person that’s going to pick up a book, they’re going to thumb through it and stop at the pictures,” he said.

His newly published book, “ Moorpark,” takes readers through the history of the city from the early 1900s to 1930, long before it was incorporated in 1983. The 128-page book is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series.

The chapters focus on Epworth and Fremontville, two early settlements in the Moorpark area before the town was founded in 1900, as well as on the city’s founding members, its farming roots and the impact of the railroad on the small town.

In the 1890s, the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Coast Line, which ran between Los Angeles and San Francisco, had a stop in Moorpark near Moorpark Avenue and High Street.

“I didn’t realize how big of a role the railroad played in town,” Winters said. “It was just such a vital part of the community.”

As he dug for information about his city in textbooks, museums and maps, Winters said he discovered more fun facts about Moorpark. During the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, for example, the men’s individual and group road racing cycling started their events in Moorpark and cycled to Oxnard using Highway 118, and rode the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Santa Monica.

One challenge in writing the book, he said, was not having access to all the city’s old documents, videos and other memorabilia.

That’s because all the Moorpark Historical Society’s yearbooks, newspaper articles and other old documents were locked in a storage unit that was destroyed by the Shekell fire in 2006.

Fortunately, Winters had pulled out the society’s photos to be archived the year before.

“I’m glad we had the foresight to pull those out,” he said.

Now that his work is complete, Winters looks forward to seeing readers become more knowledgeable about his beloved hometown.

“It was a labor of love, it was a lot of work, but just seeing the finished product and knowing a whole new generation of citizens in Moorpark will have a whole new history (of the city) . . . it’s very exciting for me, and very exciting for the Historical Society as well, to have something we can get out there,” he said.

“Moorpark” will be released Aug. 15 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble stores and through Arcadia Publishing. The Moorpark Historical Society will also have copies of the book for sale.

For more about the book and the Moorpark Historical Society, visit www.arcadiapublishing.com and as well as the website moorparkhistoricalsociety.org.

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