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Fort Tejon

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The Native Americans who lived in this area prior to the establishment of Fort Tejon are generally referred to as the Emigdiano. They were an inland group of the Chumash people. Unlike their coastal relatives, however, the Emigdiano avoided contact with European explorers and settlers, and were never brought into one of the missions or even incorporated into the Sebastian Indian Reservation. Once Fort Tejon was established, the Emigdiano often worked as independent contractors for the army, providing guides for bear hunts and delivering fresh fruits from their fields for sale in officers row. 

In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed Edward F. Beale to the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada, and sent him to California to head off further confrontation between the Indians and the many gold seekers and other settlers who were pouring into California. After studying the situation, Beale decided that the best approach was to set up a large Indian reservation at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and to invite displaced Indian groups to settle there. 

In order to implement his plan, Beale requested a federal appropriation of $500,000 and military support for the 75,000 acre reservation he had selected at the foot of Tejon Pass. Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commander of the Pacific Division of the U.S. Army, supported Beale's plan and agreed to set up a military post on or near the Indian reservation. The army was eager, in any case, to abandon Fort Miller (near Fresno, California) in favor of a more strategically advantageous site in California's southern San Joaquin Valley. 

In August 1854, Major J.L. Donaldson, a quartermaster officer, chose the present site in Canada de las Uvas. The site was handsome and promised adequate wood and water. It was just 17 miles southwest of the Sebastian Indian Reservation, and it was right on what Major Donaldson was convinced would become the main route between the Central Valley and Southern California. 

For almost ten years, Fort Tejon was the center of activity in the region between Stockton and Los Angeles. The soldiers, known as Dragoons, garrisoned at Fort Tejon patrolled most of central and southern California and sometimes as far as Utah. Dragoons from Fort Tejon provided protection and policed the settlers, travelers and Indians in the region. People from all over the area looked to Fort Tejon for employment, safety, social activities and the latest news from back east. 

1855 Xxiii 1858 Cavalry & Dragoons.

National Museum of American History

Fort Tejon Historic Timeline

California State Parks

Colt Second Model Dragoon Revolver

National Museum of American History

Women at Frontier Army Forts

California State Parks

Millard Fillmore

National Portrait Gallery

Midshipman Edward Fitzgerald Beale

Naval History and Heritage Command

Edward Fitzgerald Beale

Naval History and Heritage Command

The Generals of Fort Tejon

California State Parks

James Henry Carleton

Library of Congress

James Lowry Donaldson, circa 1861-5

University of Louisville Library Digital Collections

David McMurtie Gregg, 1860

Library of Congress

Thomas Turner Fauntleroy

Library of Congress

Thomas Jordan

Library of Congress

William Dorsey Pender

Library of Congress

Captain Ralph Wilson Kirkham

Library of Congress

The Drowning of Private William Thorpe

George Stammerjohan, California State Parks

Camel Corps Graphic

California State Parks

A Soldier's Home Part One

California State Parks

A Soldier's Home Part Two

California State Parks

Fort Tejon HABS Measured Drawings (00000v)

John E. Woolf/Library of Congress

Fort Tejon HABS Measured Drawings (00001v)

John E. Woolf/Library of Congress

Fort Tejon HABS Measured Drawings (00002v)

John E. Woolf/Library of Congress

Fort Tejon HABS Measured Drawings (00003v)

John E. Woolf/Library of Congress

Fort Tejon HABS Text

Library of Congress

Fort Tejon Officers' Quarters

Library of Congress

Fort Tejon, Soldiers' Quarters

Library of Congress

Fort Tejon, Soldiers' Quarters

Library of Congress

Fort Tejon, Smokehouse

Library of Congress

Fort Tejon Barracks Number One

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

Fort Tejon Barracks

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

Capt_John_William_Tudor_Gardiners_Quarters.jpg

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

Officers_Quarters_2.jpg

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

Fort Tejon Officers' Quarters

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

Fort Tejon Quartermaster's Shop

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

A Short History of Peter LeBeck

Alan Pollack, M.D., The Heritage Junction Dispatch Vol. 35 No. 5, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, Sep.-Oct. 2009

Peter Lebeck Bark

Kern County Library

Telegraph Key

National Museum of American History

Cover of Alfred Vail's Experiment Notebook

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

Vibroplex Telegraph Key

National Museum of American History

Concord-Style stagecoach model

National Postal Museum