Among Ventura's remarkable landscapes stands the row of Cypress on the west bank of the Ventura River Mouth. It was this piece of land, Seaside Wilderness Park, also know as Hobo Jungle, that inspired the creation of the Fading Treasures of Ventura exhibition in 2005, and the collection of websites at The concept of documenting the fading landscapes and landmarks of Ventura's treasures had its beginnings when in the Fall of 2004, the palms on the inland side of the row of trees caught fire, threatening to destroy one of the city's most beloved panoramic views. Later in 2005, the force of the Spring floods saturated the fragile sands beneath the line of trees and many of the haunting Cypress washed into the sea forever. These sad events brought Sarah Kalvin and Michael R. Meyer together to create a website for public view and participation and to give homage to the wonderful treasures of Ventura that are fading before our very eyes.

The Fragile Sands project and website grew out of the need to give special attention to this one of the Fading Treasures of Ventura - that beloved piece of land and the glorious history that goes with it. In 1909, Eugene Preston Foster and his wife Orpha Woods Foster, granted the land, then known as Ventura County Seaside Public Park, to the county of Ventura. It was E.P. Foster's vision that a mini Golden Gate Park be created on both sides of the river mouth to be designated for public use for ongoing generations. In the grant deed* it was stipulated that the "land shall be used, improved, and be perpetually maintained by the county and its successors in interest and estate, as a public park and place of recreation and pleasure ground for the general public." The city acquired the property from the county on these same conditions.

Today there are plans to create The Ventura River Parkway with a grant given to the Trust for Public Land by the California Coastal Conservancy. In the tradition of the Foster's vision, the use for public recreation and education will continue for years to come.

The view of the trees at the river mouth are cherished by locals and visitors who follow the bike trail along the river to Ojai from Seaside Park, but they mean something different to everyone. For some, they are a symbol of sanctuary and indeed have sheltered many a hobo during the depression years when they hopped on and off freight trains stopping at Ventura's station. In recent years however, they've become a lodging spot for the homeless and sometimes dubious characters and so the reputation of the trees now prompts fear into the hearts of many residents. Still today it is not a safe place to linger or investigate alone.

However, on Foster Day and the dedication of the Foster Library on September 5, 1921, there was a more hopeful promise in the words of William Hamilton Miller when he was quoted in the Fillmore Herald saying, "Let all such take pattern from Eugene P. Foster. For them in particular, this gathering on the morning of September 5th will say in clarion tones: Go thou and do likewise."

And so today, we carry the torch, each in our own way, individually and together — we are linked to the historic vision of E.P. Foster — a vision that promises to preserve and enhance our natural environment, to keep it safe for the right to cherish and enjoy it freely for generations to come.

The Fragile Sands website features individuals and organizations whose desire it is to watch over the river's future through the promotion of educational classes, projects, events and exhibitions which bring attention and awareness to the ecological responsibility of Ventura's youth and general community. Read Bios »

Visit to see the fate of the Mayfair Theatre, the story of Top Hat Burger Palace, watch 94 year old Phil cut hair at Phil's Barbershop on Main St., and view the long lost mural on the vintage Caffe Bella wall and read the owner's role in bringing outdoor restaurant seating to Ventura.

*Information quoted from the Parks Profile, Appendix B2, Page 30 and 31. City of Ventura Parks Department. January 2008