Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Antelope Valley consists of northern Los Angeles County and the southeastern portion of Kern County, California. It lies north of the San Gabriel Mountains and east of the Tehachapis in the Mojave Desert and is at least 2,200 square miles (5,700 km²) in size. The Victor Valley is to the east.
Edwards Air Force Base lies east of Rosamond, 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Palmdale. Edwards AFB's dry lakebeds are the lowest geographic elevation in the valley. Significant amounts of U. S. military flight testing is performed there, and it has been the site of many important aeronatical accomplishments, including the first flight to break the sound barrier. NASA space shuttles originally landed at Edwards because the lake beds offer a vast landing area. NASA has since built a huge landing strip at Kennedy Space Center and Edwards is the backup in case of bad weather at Cape Canaveral.
U. S. Air Force Plant 42 in northeast Palmdale is home to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and BAe Systems, among other aerospace-related companies. Notable projects assembled and/or designed there include the space shuttle, B-2 Spirit bomber, F-117 Nighthawk fighter, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, a passenger jet aircraft.
The newly dedicated Mojave Spaceport is also located in this region. The spaceport is famous as the base of operations for Scaled Composites, the company that designed SpaceShipOne and won the X-Prize.
The valley's first main industry as a part of the United States was agriculture. Historically known regionally for its extensive alfalfa fields and fruit crops, farmers now are growing a wider variety of crops, such as carrots, onions, lettuce, and potatoes. As housing tracts continue to build in the middle of the valley, the farm operations are now found farther to the west and east sides than in previous decades.
- Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, home to California's state flower
- Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
- Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park
Non-Hispanic whites make up approximately 48% of the population of the Antelope Valley and the majority in most of its cities and towns. Hispanics are the next largest group, and their numbers are steadily increasing. There is a smaller percentage of African Americans, and those of Asian descent are even fewer in number.
Major highways and roads
- the Antelope Valley Freeway (California State Highway 14)
- California State Highway 138 (of which Pearblossom Highway comprises its eastern leg)
- California State Highway 58 (freeway status now that the new Mojave bypass has been completed)
- U.S. Highway 395 (which technically lies east of the Valley proper)
On the ridgeline of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles Crest Highway (California State Highway 2) snakes 60 miles (100 km) through the Angeles National Forest to La Canada Flintridge to the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan region. Angeles Forest Highway, a key county road, connects Palmdale with Angeles Crest Highway as an alternate route to the Los Angeles basin.
Gen. William G. Fox field in Lancaster is the valley's largest general aviation airport.
Palmdale Regional Airport, co-sited with USAF Plant 42 is presently served by Scenic Airlines with daily flights to North Las Vegas, Nevada. Plans are currently underway to add additional airlines and destinations. It is owned by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the Los Angeles city government entity which owns and operates LAX.
The valley was first visited by whites of European origin in the 1770s. Father Francisco Garces , a Franciscan friar, is believed to have traveled the west end of the valley in 1776. Jedediah Smith came through in 1827, and John C. Fremont made a scientific observation of the valley in 1844 along with his other California explorations.
Stagecoach lines came through the valley along its foothills after Fremont's visit and were the preferred way of travel before the coming of the Southern Pacific railroad in 1876. The rail service linking the valley to the Central Valley and Los Angeles started the first large influx of white settlers to the valley, and farms and towns soon sprouted on the valley floor.
The aircraft (now referred to as aerospace) industry took hold in the valley at Plant 42 in 1952. Edwards AFB, then called Muroc Army Air Field, was established in 1933.
In recent decades the valley has become a bedroom community to the Greater Los Angeles area. Major housing tract development and population growth took off beginning in 1983, which has increased the population of Palmdale around 10 times its former size as of 2004. Neighboring Lancaster has increased its population since the early 1980s to around 5 times its former level. Major retail has followed the population influx, centered around Palmdale's Antelope Valley Mall. New business parks in both Palmdale and Lancaster have been constructed and have room for additional businesses to relocate.
Some people of note have spent time in the valley, including:
- Judy Garland, then known in the valley as Frances Gumm. As a girl, she would sing in public to her Lancaster neighbors.
- John Wayne, then known as Marion Morrison, was briefly a Lancaster schoolboy who would be known not to tie up his horse properly when he left it by the street, as was the old time custom.
- Aldous Huxley drew writing inspiration from the solitude found at his Llano home. A little known children's fiction, The Crows of Pearblossom, is set in the valley and was the only children's book he has been known to write.
- Frank Zappa attended Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, graduating in 1958. He met Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) there, a fellow student at the time.
- Chuck Yeager was an early USAF test pilot at then-Muroc Army Air Field, now known as Edwards Air Force Base, where he became the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.
- Michael Deaver , former aide to Ronald Reagan, is a former Mojave resident.
- R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket and Mail Call fame is a current Palmdale resident.
- Burt Rutan and his brother Dick Rutan of Scaled Composites, the firm which produced SpaceShipOne and the Voyager flying crafts, work out of Mojave Airport/Spaceport in Mojave.
- Tippi Hedren, who made her major motion picture debut in The Birds, is an Acton resident since at least 1981 (Acton being not in the valley proper, but nearby to the south).
- Kathleen Soliah, who achieved notoriety as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s and then as a fugitive living a quiet, middle-class life in St. Paul, Minnesota, grew up in Desert View Highlands, graduating from Palmdale High School in 1965.
- Joseph Foreman, more frequently known as Afroman, lives in Palmdale.
See also Aerospace Walk of Honor - downtown Lancaster sidewalk tribute to the U. S. Air Force flight test community.
Valley place names
Cities (denoted with year of incorporation) and communities around the Valley - within its borders and nearby - include the following:
- Agua Dulce
- Antelope Acres
- California City - incorporated in 1965
- Del Sur
- Lancaster - incorporated in 1977
- Lake Elizabeth
- Lake Hughes
- Lake Los Angeles
- Leona Valley
- North Edwards
- Palmdale - incorporated in 1962
- Quartz Hill
- Ridgecrest - incorporated in 1963
- Tehachapi - incorporated in 1909
- Wilsona Gardens
- Willow Springs
Greater Los Angeles area residents, as well as others from out of state have been observed to doubt the existence of people living in places not named Palmdale or Lancaster (the two most populous cities in the Valley). The above listing hopefully will dispel all doubt. Most of the above place names have a separate US postal ZIP Code and most of them are identified US Bureau of the Census tracts. If one would doubt the existence of a certain place, consulting a licensed Realtor and/or attorney would be appropriate. Real estate fraud has happened in the Valley, though usually to a few unsuspecting buyers and has not historically been a widespread occurrence.
- Antelope Valley - Comprehensive site with demographic and economic information on the Antelope Valley.
- Antelope Valley Press
- Photos of Antelope Valley - Terra Galleria
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