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Tehachapi is a city in Kern County, California, in the Tehachapi Mountains, at an elevation of 3,970 feet (1,210 m) between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert.
Tehachapi is 35 miles (56 km) east-southeast of Bakersfield, and 20 miles (32 km) west of Mojave. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.0 square miles (26 km2) and a population of 14,414.
The Tehachapi area is known for the nearby Tehachapi Loop (a popular railfan site), Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, the Indian Point Ostrich Ranch, the Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park and Tomi-Kahni Resource Center (Native American), and excellent air conditions for gliding. Ten miles to the west at Keene, is the National Chavez Center, established to share the legacy of Cesar Chavez.
The California Correctional Institution maximum security prison, also known as Tehachapi State Prison, is in the area; as is proximity to Edwards Air Force Base (40 miles (64 km) to the east).
The Kawaiisu people (also Nuwu ("people" in Kawaiisu), or Nuooah) are the Native American tribe whose homeland was the Tehachapi Valley, and seasonally the southern Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert, for thousands of years.
One possibility for the origin of the name Tehachapi comes from the Kawaiisu language. It may be derived from the word for "hard climb" or tihachipia, according to the Tomi-Kahni Resource Center. The settlement has been formerly known and spelled as: Tehachapai; Tehachapa; Tehachepi; Tehachipi; and Summit Station.
Previously known as 'Old Town', Tehachapi was established in the 1860s.
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