Tuesday, Nov 19 2013 06:00 AM

Tehachapi was a 'tank town'

Just saw the photo of our community water tank from years past (published in "Looking Back" on Nov. 12). It was later painted silver with the lettering in black. I have a similar photo but the trees, still bending in the wind, look to be a bit older.

Notice the pear orchard in the background. The tank and building was actually located on the south side of what would some day be the city park between the grammar school and Mojave Street. Also, at that time Davis Street ran by the east side of the school into a dead end at the pear orchard. In 1940 that portion of Davis was eliminated as a hazard to students who sometimes used the park for projects. But the park was yet to be planted according to the writings of Lon Dennison who generalized the planting year at about 1927. So, the water works faced north and overlooked the vacant land that later became the city park.

In 1912 Tehachapi voted bonds in the amount of $1,400 to construct a public water system consisting of wells and pumping plants which furnished an abundant supply of good water. Wooden water mains were installed and not replaced until after the 1952 quake.

Sherm Chitwood and his wife, June, lived in the house. It was a funny house that had shingles on its exterior and I recall them being stained dark green, not painted. He was the first superintendent of the Water Works. They weren't listed in the phone book as Chitwood but under the Tehachapi Municipal Water Works number. The operators knew that when someone wanted Sherm Chitwood's house (people seldom called by number) to ring the water company.

Some years later after the water works was removed, a street went behind the park but very recently it was once again shut off from through traffic. Makes it safer for kids playing in the park, too.


PAT GRACEY lives in Tehachapi and we appreciate her sharing this background on the photo published last week.

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