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JPR Feature
Christo's Running Fence   
Friday April 1, 2005
By Dawna Curler

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

Environmental artist Christo, known for wrapping and draping landscapes and buildings, unfurled his latest artwork, the "Gates Project," throughout  New York's Central Park in February, 2005. This recent venture brings to mind an earlier Northern California project Christo set up in 1976.

It was called "Running Fence."  An 18-foot high, white nylon curtain snaked for 24 miles over the rolling hills of 59 private ranches in Sonoma and Marin counties, cutting through the little burg of Valley Ford and ending with a dip into the Pacific Ocean. The four-year planning process entailed eighteen public hearings, three California Superior Court sessions, an Environmental Impact Report, and of course, consent from all the property owners. The fence was up for 14 days.

A long-time Valley Ford resident recalled, "We didn't want the fence. Of course, when it finally went up it was beautiful. It ended up bringing people together. For the first time the local farmers and ranchers and hippies were getting together and talking about things, and often we were on the same side." 

Today the event is part of the community's local history.  Although the Fence is gone, the tiny Valley Ford Post Office proudly displays Christo memorabilia. Their latest acquisition is a poster from the Gates Project.

Today's episode of As It Was was written Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Christo and Jeanne-Claude website,; Hanson, Gayle M.B.,"Good Fences Make Friends," Insight on the News, Vol.12, Issue 38, Oct. 7, 1996; and phone call with Valley Ford postmistress, Roz Simmons, Feb. 22, 2005.

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