Lancaster History

Native Americans roamed the Antelope Valley ten thousand years before Southern Pacific railway tycoons Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington decided to find the perfect rail route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 1876, Sp's railway engineers and thousands of Chinese laborers constructed the Tehachapi Loop as a way to overcome the 4,000 foot Tehachapi Pass. As luck would have it, the tracks ran through an area of the Antelope Valley with artesian wells which could feed the steam engines, and thus Lancaster was born as a whistle stop along the inland route from LA to the Bay. With the railroad came people and throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s the town grew to a thriving community of 1,500 people by 1930.

In the late '30s, the Army set up a bombing range out at Muroc Air field, and by 1941, the RAF were training pilots here. Muroc Field eventually became Edwards Air Force Base. By the end of World War ii, the Antelope Valley had secured its place in aviation history as a team of test pilots began pushing the limits of new jet and rocket technology captured from the Germans. Chuck Yeager, one of those pilots, leapt into headlines and history books by breaking the sound barrier for the first time in the skies over Lancaster.

From 1950 to 1960, Lancaster grew by leaps and bounds as returning veterans found affordable homes and new jobs in the Antelope Valley. In this "booming" decade of rocket planes, the City grew from 3,600 to almost 30,000. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set the nation on a path for the moon and sent a new crew of astronauts out to Edwards to learn how to fly fast. They learned the right stuff here, with a little help from Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club.

By the 1970s aerospace really took off in the Antelope Valley with Plant 42 manufacturing space shuttles and stealth aircraft, one after another. In 1977, Lancaster incorporated and elected its first city council to gain greater control of its meteoric growth. Over the next three and a half decades, the City's population nearly quadrupled from 37,000 in 1977 to 150,000+ today. Along the way, the City matured into the eighth largest city in Los Angeles County with exciting new cultural assets such as the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, an appealing quality of life and a remarkable affordability that continue to draw many new residents and visitors to the City. Despite its rapid growth and high-tech image, Lancaster remains a friendly, family-focused community where people appreciate fresh air, blue skies and sunshine more than 300 days a year.

Lancaster Highlights