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Ventura Farms Boulders

While careening along a foreign narrow dirt road late one night, Mr. Murdock caught a glimpse  of something monstrous in the headlights of his hired car. Signaling for the driver to stop the car so he could get out to see what they were, Murdock was dumfounded when he got out and stood beside these monolithic boulders. Awed by their natural beauty, he barely slept that night writhing in anticipation for daybreak so that he could return to get a better look.


By the light of day, the beauty of the boulders had not diminished. Quite the contrary, the daylight afforded Mr. Murdock the ability to study the immense stature of these magnificent natural sculptures in even greater detail. What was to be a visit to an old friend who had just built a hotel on the River Kwai quickly turned into a quest of how to get some of these incredible natural sculptures home to Hidden Valley, California, some 15,000 miles away.


First, a team was employed in Thailand to supervise the digging of the stones from the River Kwai, 150 men began digging in the Spring of 1994 and began amassing a collection of boulders for Murdock’s approval. Pemex had to be supplied for the workers to sleep in at night as this was cobra country, and as the cobra is a nocturnal animal the men could not be on the ground after nightfall.

The constant stream of logistical nightmares that were presented throughout this endeavor would have been plenty enough reason for the average man to abandon this haphazardly pursuit, but Murdock is not your average man and he remained undaunted. Digging in cobra infested country was the least of his problems. Many larger hurdles were yet to present themselves. One of which was securing the permits that would be needed to export the boulders to America. These export permits could only be obtained through the Army in control, quite a task in an unstable country where the government fell not once, or twice, but three times, and along with it the Army General, and each new incoming General claiming not to honor the previous General’s permit. So with each new general, fees had to be paid over and new permits issued. Needless to say, it got to be very expensive. One general even went as far as to blow up one of the shiploads of boulders.

The next challenge was to find a ship that would transfer these monolithic boulders, some weighing in excess of 180,000 lbs/ or 90 tons across the seas. After being turned down by several shipping companies, one was finally hired, but only after the entire vessel was insured by Murdock would it carry these stones abroad, and only after a system could be constructed to secure the boulders to the bottom of the hold, so that in the event of rough seas, the boulders would not capsize the ship.

In the spring of 1996, two and a half years after Murdock began digging, the first shipment of boulders arrived at the Port of Long Beach. It was an extremely exciting time, construction on the new Georgian house was about to begin and the Chinese Pavilions were well under construction in China.

The boulders traveled again by special permit and by police escort in the early morning hours (between 2:00 and 5:00 AM) from the Port of Long Beach to their final destination in Thousand Oaks. Jaime Zamora, Murdock’s ranch manager stood ready and waiting with one of the two special cranes purchased to unload the boulders. The first of what would ultimately be 330 boulders, was unloaded onto Ventura Farms soil on April 19, 1996.

The boulders, in their different stages of marble, granite and onyx were expelled from the heated interior of the Earth billions of years ago, cast up in a semi liquid state and forced to the Earth’s surface, much like bubbling oatmeal, the boulders fell back down into the water to the sandy bottom of the River Kwai where they solidified. The bubbles and particles of sand can still be seen on many of the boulders where they once rested on the sandy floor of the riverbed. The smooth surfaces and unique shapes and holes were formed by the sharp particles of sand that flowed against them for thousands of years, polishing their surface and sculpting the fantastic shapes, in one of the fastest moving rivers in the world.

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