Tehachapi, CA History...
As our ancestors bravely cut trails through
the wild west, many pioneers instantly found California
to be a remarkably plentiful area. There were beautiful
mountains, meadows, trees, warm sun and nearby seashores.
There was abundant fortuity for life; from the prosperity
of available jobs to the raising of Families to the
growing of different foods and the discovery of cool,
fresh water. The resulting consequence enabled people
to live happily all year 'round. The same experiences
are sought-after and enjoyed today.
On or about the year 1849 there was a sudden profound
expansion of new opportunities in California after gold
was discovered in them thar hills; the same hills soon
to be known as the Tehachapi Hills and on into the Mountains
reaching northward to the Sierras.
In the 1860's the downtown area of Tehachai was first
named 'Williamsburg' and another nearby part of Downtown
was called 'Greenwich'.The excitement of new found wealth,
jobs and optimism drew hordes of people to this territory.
The people of Willamsburg built homes, opened businesses,
joined on with local mining crews, created farms, grew
crops and settled in to raise their Families.
Much of the activity centered around what we now call
'Old Town', and as the streets were named, one street
was designated as 'Tehachapa street'; an Indian word
meaning 'sweet water and acorns'.
Others claim the name Tehachapi is derived from the
'tah-eechay-pah', meaning 'Oak Flat with springs'.
Officially, in 1876, the names of Willamsburg and Greenwich
were formally changed to the name of 'Tehachapi'.
The first Pioneers in Tehachapi?
The very first known permanent Pioneers who settled
here were John Moore and Amanda Brite, after moving
west from Texas in 1854. John and Amanda eventually
staked claim to a peaceful valley 10 minutes west of
downtown and known today as 'Brite Valley' and probably
best known for Brite
Lake. The Brite Family began a successful lumber
business and utilized their inspiration for construction
to build their own estate property, surrounded by barns
and corrals. (a photo of their home can be found on
the gallery section, here).
The importance of the Railroad
As the backbreaking work of the railway edged westward,
Tehachapi continued along as a small, but active Town.
However, when the Intercontinental Railroad work progressed
to the point of linking the big City of San Francisco
to Los Angeles through the Tehachapi Pass, this area
grew even faster. Tehachapi was initially planned and
mapped-out by the 'Western Development Company', owned
in part at that time by the Railroad.
The railroad construction also brought world-renowned
engineering fame to the Tehachapi area during construction
of "The Loop".
While laying tracks from Bakersfield to Mojave, engineers
needed to develop a plan to traverse the mountains at
higher elevations and to devise a method for safely
slowing the momentum of east bound trains as they carefully
chugged down the mountain to Bakersfield.
The solution was to bring in thousands of workers (3000
from China alone) using picks, shovels and dynamite
to create 18 tunnels as well as "The Loop".
The Loop is a flat, graded area where an average 4000
foot long train will circle over itself, on both eastbound
and westbound routes. Today, nearly 40 trains a day
utilize this route in enabling the delivery of tons
of product to all areas of California and throughout
And, after more than 120 years The Loop continues to
attract visitors from all over the World to marvel at
the movement of the trains as they circle through The
Loop. There is a viewing platform just a few minutes
west of downtown Tehachapi (along Woodford-Tehachapi
Road) and if you watch your step and have a lot of hiking
energy, I very much recommend a hike down to The Loop
to get a closer look.
Loop information here!
-2019 - New Tehachapi Hospital
Photo credit: Adventist Health
Tehachapi Today is discussed
in detail at the 'Areas'
section of this site. See you there!
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