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The Tehachapi Destination can be found in southern California, containing cities such as Lancaster, Mojave, Rosamond, and the namesake, Tehachapi. Located approximately 35 miles from Bakersfield, Tehachapi covers a total area of about 10.25 square miles. A few notable characteristics of the destination’s namesake are the Tehachapi Loop, a significant railfan site; gliding, which is a recreational sport for aircraft; and the Pacific Crest Trail. The largest city situated in the Tehachapi Destination is Lancaster, which can be found about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. Lancaster is comprised of shrublands, forests, croplands, lakes, and rivers, in addition to the urban districts. One of Lancaster’s most notable attractions is the Antelope Valley Indian Museum, a historical museum that features a collection of Native American exhibits. The museum was designated as a regional Native American museum in the 1980s. Tehachapi additionally has a museum that several tourists visit annually. The museum is known as Tehachapi Museum and it showcases galleries of the city’s early history. Beyond these tourist sites, the Tehachapi Destination is also comprised of a few outdoor attractions with one of the most popular being the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Every spring, visitors come to the reserve to view the native wildflowers that adorn the landscape.
Located in southern California, the Tehachapi Destination is situated between a few of California’s prominent cities. These cities include Bakersfield, Santa Clarita, and Los Angeles, all of which can be found outside the borders of the destination. Tehachapi, the destination's namesake, is a city that occupies land in the western region of the destination in Kern County. As of 2020, Tehachapi’s population is about 12,643 with an annual decline rate of -1.16%. Since the most recent census, the settlement's population has decreased by -2.29% from a total of 12,939 residents. Given the fact that the town stretches across an extent of 10 miles, the population density is approximately 1,246 people per square mile. In terms of racial demographics, white residents constitute the majority at 76.87% with the second most common race being those who classify as “other race” at 7.27%.
A fair amount of visitors come to Tehachapi for attractions such as the Tehachapi Museum. The museum itself was built in 1931 and initially functioned as a branch of the Kern County Library system. It served as such until the year 1982 when the Tehachapi Heritage League relocated its museum operation to the site where the museum is currently based. Some of the galleries that are featured at the Tehachapi Museum include the Milano Gallery and the Kawaiisu. Hand-woven baskets and rock art are a few of the artifacts that can be seen in the Kawaiisu gallery; however, exhibits change periodically.
The largest city within the Tehachapi Destination by area and population is Lancaster, California. Lancaster’s population of 173,516 makes it the 30th largest city in California. This city is situated in the destination’s southwestern region and it occupies nearly 94.54 square miles. Palmdale is joined with Lancaster as a twin city complex. A notable draw for tourism in Lancaster is the Antelope Valley Indian Museum, which showcases various items of Native American culture from the western Great Basin, the southwest, and California. Nearly 70 years of the evolution of Native American history are presented through the exhibits, which were first created in the 1990s.
Tehachapi is characteristic of an arid, warm climate during the summer, contrasted with cold and partly cloudy winters. It is recommended that tourists visit Tehachapi during the summer from late June to late August, based on the tourism score. These particular months are reportedly the best time of year to engage in warm-weather activities. An average daily high above 80 degrees Fahrenheit occurs during the hot season which tends to be from June to September. July is generally the hottest month of the year with an average high of 86 degrees and a low of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. As for the cold season, from November to March, temperatures drop to around 57 degrees. Tehachapi’s coldest month, December has a high of 51 degrees and a low of 31 degrees on average. February receives the most amount of precipitation in comparison to the other months; however, precipitation occurs most frequently from November to April. Over the course of the year, temperatures typically vary between 30 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
The topographic structure of the Tehachapi Destination is relatively mountainous in the west with several desert areas throughout the rest of the destination. Lancaster has an 80-mile distance between itself and Los Angeles, divided by the San Gabriel Mountains. Another mountain range—which contains the namesake of the destination, Tehachapi—is the Tehachapi Mountains. A particularly notable geographic feature that contributes to a portion of the destination’s landscape is the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. This reserve covers an expanse of 1,700 acres, containing an abundance of primarily the California poppy, which is California’s state flower. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a seasonal attraction that draws visitors to the area each spring. From mid-February to May, the native wildflowers display their most vibrant colors. About eight trails wind through the site with benches along the sides. Burrows that serve as the homes for kangaroo rats, mice, gophers, scorpions, and beetles can be seen throughout the trails as well.
According to the Tomi-Kahni Resource Center, Tehachapi’s name presumably derives from the Kawaiisu language, more specifically the word “tihachipia,” which translates to English as “hard climb.” Other researchers believe otherwise, as Frank Forrest Latta, an anthropologist, recorded that the name, Tehachapi, originates from a combination of the Yokuts and Ute languages. He believes that the word from Yokuts, “taheech[e],” meaning “oak covered flat,” and “pah,” the word from Ute that means “water,” were combined to create Tehachapi’s current name. Formerly, the city has been known by several other names and variations of spelling such as Tehachapai, Tehachapa, Tehachepi, Tehachipi, and Summit Station.
Much of Tehachapi’s history and economic growth have roots in railroad construction. In 1876, a railroad was constructed and it extended to the southland. The first accomplishment of this railroad project was the Tehachapi Loop which enabled steam engines to circumvent the necessary altitude. When the South Pacific Railroad built a depot in the settlement, it ultimately led to the founding of Tehachapi. As previously stated, the town was first referred to as Summit Station, though the settlers who came from Old Town regarded the area as Tehachapi. It wasn’t until 1909 that Tehachapi officially became an incorporated city.
In relation to the aforementioned South Pacific Railroad, the city of Lancaster bears a similar historical significance as Tehachapi. The S.P. Railroads influenced Lancaster as the railroad was completed between San Francisco and Los Angeles, two prominent cities in California. A place of lodging known as the Western Hotel was then constructed following the completion of the railroad. This, in turn, caused Lancaster’s economy to develop and advance. In 1898, the discovery of gold in Lancaster’s northern hills occurred, attracting several prospectors. That same year, borax was discovered in the mountains that encompass the Antelope Valley, making it the “world’s largest open-pit borax mine.”