The Greater Tehachapi area and the city of Tehachapi together encompass more than 275 square miles with a population of more than 36,880 people and includes a number of unincorporated communities and areas within the 93561 ZIP code, according to the 2010 census.
The modern development of Tehachapi began in 1876, when the railroad was completed. An earlier settlement, once called Williamsburg and now known as Old Town, was founded in the 1860s and was an important station on the road between the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Old Town declined when residents gradually relocated to nearby Greenwich, the first name for the community now known as Tehachapi.
The city of Tehachapi incorporated in 1909 and for many years was surrounded by ranchland. Development of ranches in the mid-20th century has continued and a number of unincorporated communities — all part of Tehachapi — have developed. These communities offer a variety of amenities with just about as much diversity as the natural surroundings.
Communities and developed areas (in addition to the city of Tehachapi) include:
Golden Hills/Old Town/Oak Knolls – residential and commercial development to the west of the city of Tehachapi within the Tehachapi Valley.
Alpine Forest Park/Mountain Meadows/Old West Ranch – residential developments in higher elevation areas south of the city of Tehachapi including forested land with many homes “off the grid.”
Brite Valley – area including small farms and residential lots of various sizes located between the Tehachapi and Cummings valleys. Brite Lake — a reservoir that serves the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District and is open to the public for fishing — is in this area.
Cummings Valley/Fairview Ranches/Stallion Springs – the westernmost area of Tehachapi, some parts overlook the San Joaquin Valley. The historic Cummings Ranch and California Correctional Institution are located here. Cummings Valley is a mix of residential development and intensive agriculture, including commercial production of organic vegetables and producing vineyards, as well as alpaca ranches. Fairview Ranches and Stallion Springs are residential subdivisions in the valley. Woodward West, a nationally noted youth action sports camp, is here.
Bear Valley Springs – a gated community in Bear Valley, which is accessed from Cummings Valley. Residents have use of facilities including the Oak Tree Country Club golf course, a shooting range, swimming pool, lakes and horseback riding trails. These facilities are generally not covered in this guide because they are not open to the public.
Sand Canyon/Cameron Canyon – unique and interesting areas on the eastern edge of Tehachapi with topography and plant life that bridges the mountain valley and desert areas. Sand Canyon, located to the north of Highway 58, has a considerable amount of residential development and is the home of Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park, as well as the Mountain Spirit Center, a Buddhist monastery and spiritual retreat. Cameron Canyon is to the south of Highway 58, and in recent years has become an important part of Tehachapi’s wind energy development. A trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail is in this area.
Keene – the community of Keene is about 10 miles west of the city of Tehachapi and considered part of the greater Tehachapi area. The famed Tehachapi Loop is in this area as well as the National Chavez Center.
Monolith – no longer occupied, Monolith was once a company town for Monolith Portland Cement Company just to the east of the city of Tehachapi along Highway 58. The cement plant is now owned by Lehigh Southwest.
Other than the city of Tehachapi, all other areas are part of unincorporated Kern County. Some are organized into community services districts, which provide various services ranging from water to police protection.