For 1990s film fans, trainspotting means something entirely different from what it means in Tehachapi, where the Tehachapi Loop calls to real trainspotters. Yes, those are people who avidly watch trains. That's a thing. The Loop is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark -- which you also probably didn't know was a thing.
Tehachapi, California is the gateway between two worlds and two histories -- to the northwest is Bakersfield, a Central Valley city rich in oil and the industry that goes with it. To the east is the Mojave Desert with its sparse Joshua Trees and large, thunderous skies. Edwards Air Force Base is relatively nearby, the Tehachapi State Prison is even closer. This city is small and frequently bypassed by those traveling between other larger metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the Bay Area.
Between Two Worlds
The Kawaiisu people called the Tehachapi Valley home for thousands of years. Seasonally, they spanned the California east from the southern Sierras to the Mojave Desert. The name "Tehachapi" may derive from the Kawaiisu word for "hard climb." When non-native people arrive in the Tehachapi Valley, they merely called their settlement "Old Town." Tehachapi grew thanks to the boom brought by rail via the Southern Pacific -- the depot established the center of the new town. It was, until it was lost to fire in 2008, the oldest building in the city.
The city didn't know it had its own fault line until it was decimated by a 7.5 earthquake in the mid-20th century. The White Wolf Fault is still there, but most of the places to live in you'll be considering are built to modern standards, so don't fear tumblers when you come to town.
These days, the City of Tehachapi's website brags that "It's about higher elevation. How the higher elevation is our competitive differentiator because we have clean air, four seasons, alternative energy, outdoor adventure, great agritourism." There's a lot going for this in-between place.
Downtown Tehachapi: You'll find local shops, outdoor plazas, and historic murals here, brags the city. You'll find an assortment of housing choices here like one bedroom apartments for rent, rental properties, and a few condos rentals as well. This is the established part of town, though there are some newer tracts available as well. Live in the city center in your new rental house and enjoy a stroll down to Kelcy's for home cooked food in a rustic atmosphere. The locals say it's a must-try institution.
Stallion Springs: Just outside of town limits, about 15 miles away, you'll find Stallion Springs, home to award winning golf and an extreme sports camp where you can learn to fly your bike, indoors or outdoors. You'll find mostly detached rental properties here. A growing area, you'll enjoy the two main restaurants here -- PDubs Grille & Bar and Papa's Pizza.
Bear Valley Springs: This private, gated community is about 15 minutes from Tehachapi proper. About a third of the town's residents call this area home, however, and appreciate its country club lifestyle complete with golf, tennis, horse trails, pools, and lakes. You'll find 3 and 4 bedroom houses here, or even bigger options, with sweeping vistas and ample land. There's a country store here to tide you over with essentials and quick breakfasts and lunches.
Living in Tehachapi
In a town this size, you might not expect big city amenities like a community orchestra, but Tehachapi will exceed your expectations in many fronts, this one included. Tehachapi is home to not one, but two local orchestras -- the Tehachapi Community Orchestra and the Tehachapi Pops Orchestra (for when classical just isn't your thing). Each performs about 5 times a year, giving you 10 chances to meet your neighbors and support the local arts. If you like people more than instruments, catch a performance by the Tehachapi Community Theater. They perform in the historic Beekay Theater, a place the group worked hard to restore from a fire-damaged hole to the art deco throwback masterpiece that it is today.
As seems required for small town American life, Tehachapi has a fantastic Fourth of July schedule with events ranging from a Bad Bulls Rodeo to the annual All American 4th of July Hotdog Festival. Music, fireworks, food, neighbors, and, our favorite, the Annual Wiener Dog Races, which, well, trust us, you just need to make time to see.
For outdoor and sustainable living enthusiasts, you'll be pleased to know that Tehachapi has adopted a city Bicycle Master Plan to develop increased cycling pathways and lanes throughout the city (though for now, you'll still need a car as well if you're moving to this region).
If even small town life proves overwhelming, or you just need to hit the reset button, you can visit Teagosah, the Mountain Spirit Center -- a Buddhist Monastery associate with the Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Visitors are welcome here, any day of the week.
Also of note for animal lovers: Windswept Ranch a shelter and rehab facility for animals like deer. For the more exotic option, check out Indian Point Ostrich Ranch and look up to the world's largest birds.
For wine enthusiasts, nearby Cummings Valley is quickly growing as California's next wine region. About 20 minutes from downtown Tehachapi, the rich soil here makes from some fine vintages. Visit Triassic Legacy and Souza Family Vineyards to drink in both the local bottles and the stunning views.