The mission of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce is to advance the prosperity of our members through community leadership, member opportunities and advocacy.
The Tehachapi community (Greater Tehachapi) is a mountain valley district including 50,000 acres of level land, embracing the Tehachapi, Brite, Cummings and Bear valleys, all with altitudes near 4,000 feet.
The first known people to occupy the Tehachapi area were the American Indians known as the Kawaiisu (or, as they called themselves, Nu-oo-ah, meaning the People.)
The first permanent white settlers were John Moore and Amanda Brite, who came to the Tehachapi Valley in the fall of 1854 from Texas and three years later moved to Brite Valley, which bears their name.
Other settlers like Grant P. Cuddeback, George Cummings and William C. Wiggins soon arrived on the scene and began raising cattle, hay and grain. They also developed a lumber trade.
Miners such as Peter D. Greene and John Hendrickson drifted into the Tehachapis and did some gold mining, but the real 'gold' was found in the limestone deposits of the area. Kilns were soon built to burn the lime.
A small community known as Williamsburg sprung up in the area of the present Golden Hills in the 1860s. For a time this community was also known as Tehichipa. Another town site was established by P.D. Greene. This second site was known as Greenwich and was located several miles east of Williamsburg/Tehichipa. In 1876, the Southern Pacific Railroad came to the Tehachapi Valley and laid out its own town site named Tehachapi. Eventually, the businesses and people moved to Tehachapi and the former communities faded away.
The railroad engineers needed a long, level region at the top of the climb suitable for switching engines and rail cars. Such land was available at and near the Tehachapi site, and the summit about two miles east of the depot. The famed Tehachapi Loop made it possible for the trains to climb from the San Joaquin Valley and proceed through Tehachapi to Mojave, Los Angeles, Barstow and other eastern destinations.
Much of the soil in the local valleys is a rich, decomposed granite and vegetable silt, deep and wonderfully productive. Old publications describe Tehachapi as 'A location par excellence for the fruit grower.' Orchard production and agriculture began to flourish and the cement industry became a vital economic asset of the new community. These operations still continue. In addition, the persistent winds through the Tehachapi Pass have enabled nearby wind farms to become one of the world's leading producers of electrical power from wind energy.
In 1909, the Tehachapi settlement was incorporated, and the town of Tehachapi was legally established. An act of the state legislature changed the town's official name to city of Tehachapi in 1946.
In 1932, the first state women's prison was built in Cummings Valley. A 7.7 earthquake in 1952 did major damage to the city, including the prison. The inmates were moved to Frontera. In 1953, the state repaired the facility and made it a branch of the California Institution for Men at Chino. In the mid-1960s, a new medium security facility was built at Tehachapi. In the mid-1980s, two maximum security prisons were constructed. In 1998, the prison, now known as the California Correctional Institution (CCI), was annexed into the city. CCI is currently the largest employer in the region, with almost 1,700 persons on its payroll.
The building of Highways 58 and 14 placed Tehachapi within a one-hour commute of Bakersfield, Lancaster and Edwards Air Force Base. Because of a favorable climate, many working in these other areas wished to live near Tehachapi. This led to the development of the nearby communities of Golden Hills, Bear Valley Springs, Stallion Springs and Sand Canyon. Today, when one says Greater Tehachapi, it includes all these additional communities and many more county residents as well.