The Greater Tehachapi area, featuring the city of Tehachapi and several unincorporated communities, has a population of nearly 48,000 and encompasses more than 275 square miles, according to tehachapilife.com.
The development of Tehachapi started when Southern Pacific completed its construction of a railroad in 1876. The community of Old Town, which was previously called Williamsburg, was an important station on the road between the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California when it was founded in the 1860s. Old Town saw a decline in population when residents began migrating to nearby Greenwich, the original name of what is now known as Tehachapi.
The city of Tehachapi became incorporated in 1909 and for many years was surrounded by ranchland. Development of ranches in the mid-20th century has continued, leading to the formation of numerous unincorporated communities that offer a wide array of amenities.
Communities and developed areas (in addition to the city of Tehachapi) include:
Golden Hills/Old Town/Oak Knolls – residential and commercial development located roughly 10 minutes from downtown Tehachapi. It was a popular settling place for many of Tehachapi’s early settlers.
Alpine Forest Park/Mountain Meadows/Old West Ranch – a sort of “off the grid” locale that is not entirely serviced by electricity. A woodsy area that grows a wide array of indigenous plants.
Brite Valley – area with small farms and residential lots located between the Tehachapi and Cummings Valleys named after the first families to settle in the Tehachapi area. Home of Brite Lake, a campground that offers hookups, picnic areas and fishing.
Cummings Valley/Fairview Ranches/Stallion Springs – a farming and ranching community 20 minutes outside of downtown Tehachapi that is home to California Correctional Institution Tehachapi, the third oldest state prison in California. Cummings Valley is a mix of residential development and agriculture containing commercial production of organic vegetables and producing vineyards. Fairview Ranches and Stallion Springs are residential subdivisions in the valley. Stallion Springs is home to the youth sports and recreation center Woodward West, offering gymnastics, inline skating, skateboarding and BMX racing.
Bear Valley Springs – commonly referred to as Bear Valley, this gated enclave offers a wide array of homes and townhouses spread out over 25,000 acres of nature setting. The area has an equestrian center, horse trails, a country club and golf course, as well as a country store that serves both breakfast and lunch. These facilities are generally not covered in this guide because they are not open to the public.
Sand Canyon – east of Tehachapi off Highway 58 and surrounded by dirt roads, Sand Canyon has a bit of a wild west feel. The scenic area offers horseback riding and contains scenic hills, valleys and ranches.
Keene – the community of Keene, roughly 10 miles west of the city of Tehachapi, is home to the famed Tehachapi Loop, a 0.73-mile railway spiral constructed in 1876. It also houses the National Chavez Center and Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.
Monolith – no longer occupied, Monolith was once a company town for Monolith Portland Cement Company, east of Tehachapi along Highway 58.
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.