By Ed Gordon
contributing writer 

Train town


October 9, 2021

Ed Gordon

Tehachapi is here because of trains. The railroad was finally able to come through the pass in 1876 and there were two settlements in the area. One was founded by James Williams on Woodford-Tehachapi Road called Williamsburg, in what is now called Old Town. Close by was the small village of Greenwich. Neither became the town of Tehachapi, thanks to the railroad.

The loop made it possible for trains to get over the pass, but they still needed helper engines to get up the incline. They needed a long level place to hook up and release helper engines, which turned out to be what is now downtown Tehachapi. Originally named Summit Station, it was later changed by the Southern Pacific to Tehachapi.

Today, the railroads, BNSF and Southern Pacific, run large volumes of traffic over the tracks through Tehachapi. A lot of the trains are Intermodal; these trains move various types of freight cars, quite often carrying trailers with a variety of merchandise from point A to point B for multiple clients. You may also see unit trains made up of hopper cars carrying a single bulk commodity such as concrete for a client. There are also manifest trains that have a mixture of cars carrying various goods for multiple clients.

Now the big question? "When is the next train coming, what's the schedule?" Answer: When it gets here. There is no schedule for freight trains.


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