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Antelope Valley Local History Information
Antelope Valley Local History Information

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Aerial view showing Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, 1955 The Antelope Valley is a 3,000-square-mile high desert closed basin that straddles northern Los Angeles County and southern Kern County. One of nine California valleys with the same name, this one lies in the western Mojave high desert and includes the communities of Lancaster, Palmdale, Rosamond and Mojave. Populated by different cultures for an estimated 11,000 years, the Antelope Valley was a trade route for Native Americans traveling from Arizona and New Mexico to California's coast. Though the first wave of non-native exploration took place in the early 1770s, a later exploratory period starting in the 1840s led to the valley's first permanent settlement during the following decade, fueled by California's Gold Rush and new status as American territory. The 1854 establishment of the Fort Tejon military post near Castaic Lake and Grapevine Canyon created a gateway for valley traffic.


Drawing showing a bird's-eye view of the Antelope Valley, c. 1880 Several developments were integral to the valley's growth starting in the mid-1800s, including gold mining in the Kerns and Owens rivers; cattle ranching; the start of a Butterfield stagecoach route in 1858; construction of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco telegraph line in 1860; completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad line in 1876; and ample rainfall during the 1880s and early 1890s, which attracted many farmers. The decade-long drought that began in 1894-the worst in southern California's recorded history-decimated the regional economy and forced many settlers to abandon their homesteads, but after the turn of the twentieth century irrigation methods and electricity brought back local farming. The 1913 completion of the aqueduct spanning 233 miles between the Owens Valley and Los Angeles also revived the valley's economy. Today the Antelope Valley retains elements of its agricultural past but its economic base is now supported by aerospace and defense industries.

Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, 1920s

Website Links:


Print Sources:

  • Palmdale: How It All Began (City of Palmdale, 1998)

Images:

  • Aerial view showing Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, 1955
    [Courtesy of the West Antelope Valley Historical Society]
  • Drawing showing a bird's-eye view of the Antelope Valley, c. 1880
    [Courtesy of the West Antelope Valley Historical Society]
  • Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, 1920s
    [Courtesy of the West Antelope Valley Historical Society]

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