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When there were only two cars and livestock walked through town

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi

In 1914, there were only two cars registered in Tehachapi – one belonged to Phil Marx and the other one was my dad's. My dad had one of those old Baby Grand Chevrolets and Marx had a Winton 6. There were stockyards all along the railroad tracks then, down by Mill Street and where Tehachapi Lumber had their yard. They put all the stock in those pens and loaded them up on the train to take them out of here.

People drove their stock on foot, right through town. Johnny Brite, he raised free-ranging hogs that roamed the hills. They ate acorns and whatever they could find, and were also fed grain. He shipped 4,000 hogs out of this valley and traded cattle for them. The Hill Ranch and all those ranchers in Cummings Valley used to drive their cattle into town when they would sell them and load them into train cars. Old Sam Cuddeback had 10,000 head of goats that he loaded one time out of here. There were just any kind of goat, not any particular breed, but all the goats used to come in from Cummings Valley and the Brites.

When the sheepraisers drove the sheep up through the valley here, they'd come up the Sheeptrail (from the San Joaquin Valley floor up to Stallion Springs, also known as Comanche Point Road). The Iriarts and Bernards had saloons and handball courts across the tracks. There was also one handball court on F Street and there was a bar in there. The sheepmen played for their drinks. They used to call the handball a pelota and it was hard. It had a leather hide on it, but it was hard as a rock. You had to have a tough hand to play that game.

The sheepherders would come in here and steam for one day and then they would take that band of sheep out to the desert after they had sheared them and dipped them across the tracks. They had big corrals to take them in. They would shear a band of 3,000 head of sheep in two days. They would load the wool in great big burlap sacks that were about 9 or 10 feet tall. They would stuff them full of wool and load them on flat cars and ship them out of here. Many a load went out. They used to load all the lambs to ship out over on the desert at Cantil. Some years they shipped 200,000 head of lambs out of this country.

– Brick Jones

Brick Jones moved to Tehachapi in 1913 when he was only 4 years old, and lived the rest of his long, healthy life here.