Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Murals of Tehachapi, California ~ A Legend, A Flight, And A Blacksmith Shop

In early 2010, my friend Carol and I visited the small town of Exeter, California, famous for its murals. I took lots of pictures and the post that followed became quite popular. Back in 2004, our town decided it needed some murals of its own and now we have plenty. In the coming weeks, I'll post pictures of them together with a little local flavor and history.

The Legend of Avelino Martinez ~ Artist: Patti Doolittle, 2007

It's fitting that there's often a police car parked below this mural as if to keep an eye on Mr. Martinez, a cowboy who once worked for a famous outlaw. Martinez, who was of Mexican, Indian, and Chinese descent, came here from Mexico as a young boy, looking for his father. He worked as a horse groomer for the outlaw Joaquin Murrieta, and after Murrieta and his gang were captured, Martinez worked at Rancho El Tejon for almost 70 years, then finishing up his working days at Cummings Ranch in Tehachapi. Only four feet, four, Martinez was quite a character. After an evening of drinking in town, a friend would fetch, not only his pistols, but a stool, so that Martinez could mount his horse for the ride back home. 

Avelino Martinez died in 1936 at the age of 112 (some accounts state 115). He is buried at the old cemetery, and legend has it that the grave diggers got tipsy and dug his grave facing north-south, instead of east-west. His is the only grave facing in this direction.

Air Mail ~ Artist: Mark Pestana, 2007

This mural commemorates the 1938 inaugural Air Mail flight from Tehachapi to Bakersfield. The flight,in turn, marked the 20th anniversary of the first U.S. Air Mail stamp, as part of a national celebration. 

Built after the 1952 earthquake, this building now houses the Hitching Post Movie Theaters, but it was for a time the local U.S. post office, so the mural commemorates the old post office building as well.

The pilot, a Tehachapi resident, is pictured next to his plane at the Tehachapi airport, with Tehachapi Peak in the background. The airplane was a Porterfield CP-40 Zephyr and the flight went off without a hitch. The airmail envelope is addressed to the pilot, Harry Beauford, Jr., at Kern County Airport #4, which was the name of our airport in 1938

Red Front Blacksmith Shop ~ Artist: Lyn Bennett, assisted by Barbara Anderline, 2007

I grew up in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, on what had once been a large estate. The original manor house sat in its beautiful park, abandoned and boarded up. However, the stables, barns, and outbuildings were intact. Some of the buildings were (and still are, I believe) used for stables and an arena for a large riding school (yes, as a young girl, this was heaven for me) and the building closest to our home housed a blacksmith shop. We knew the blacksmiths and were fascinated by their work when we were children. 

So this mural holds a special meaning for me.

In addition to honoring the blacksmiths, the mural commemorates the era of cattle ranching in our mountain valleys. Many cattle ranches were spread out across the five valleys that comprise this area, and,if you look closely, you can see the cattle brands used by some of the larger ranches at the bottom of the mural. 

The real Red Front blacksmith shop was also located on this street, which is the street that the cattle and sheep would came down on their way to the stockyards,located at the railroad depot a few blocks away. 

Source: Tehachapi Visitor's Guide 2010

Please click on the link below to see my post about the murals of Exeter, California:


  1. really like that last one! really nicely done with lots of detail and history.

    but i got a kick out of the story of the first guy. 4' 4". wow!

  2. We have some murals in Vancouver, and I've taken a few pix of them. I love large art like that. Some do commemorate industry, some music, and some birdwatching.

    These shots of the murals are great photos, Inger. I will check out that older post I might not have seen! You have a good eye for finding the beauty in life.

  3. Your murals are great. The only ones here are done by gangs and I dont have a clue what they are painting or saying....sad...:(

  4. Had to come back and comment, Inger, that old post on murals was really great. I love the perspectives of the artist and the honoring of their local history.

    Glad you included that link!

  5. The history wrapped up in these murals is awesome! Exeter council made some wise choices in these investments. I must go to that site.

  6. Wow -- what talent. Truly amazing artwork Inger.

  7. I love the murals. 4'4"? Wow!


  8. I love the murals and what a wonderful way to walk through the past. Thank you!

  9. I love all of these, the post office is my favorite. i laughed when i saw the police car and thought it would be approriate for the cowboy to have a tin star on his vest, then i read he was the one to be chased not the chaser... these are great. i love murals.

  10. I love stories and all murals tell stories. Loved that story about the 115 year old man.
    If I were an artist, that is what I would paint. Something to be seen by all, not just to hang on some rich man's wall.

  11. Since I am not that far from Exeter I keep thinking about going to see the murals. Oh well... maybe this winter when it cools down would be a good time.

  12. Oh Inger I love the murals they are great the history that goes with them is even better. I cannot believe that guy was shorter than I am at 4'10 wow.
    The brands with the names are very interesting we have never used branding.
    I can see why the Blacksmith shop was a favourite for you there was one where I grew up in the little village too. B

  13. I love murals. I was one of the artists on a mural commemorating Hollywood stars once!! Can you believe now I can't remember where it was?

  14. I remember your post about Exeter and am happy your town's joined in with murals. They add such character that history comes alive. There was a segment on CBS' "Sunday Morning" about how brands are disappearing because of chips being inserted. Even though I've been assured that branding doesn't hurt, I'm not so sure as I once saw cattle being branded and, ouch! But, having said that, brands do bring about a certain nostalgia about a long-gone era. As in, the guy in the first mural. Talk about a character!

    Great post, Inger!

  15. Just love the murals and wish our town would follow suit. I love the history too!

  16. I love murals. You don't see many in Leicester UK, but we do have an Exeter in the UK only I've never visited it. I suspect they don't have murals either.

  17. Inger, nice to meet you. These photos and history are fascinating. What an interesting place to visit.

  18. Hi Inger .. love the murals - I think the artists who create these are just amazing - to think that large ...

    What a great way of commemorating history too .. I'll be back to read properly ..

    Avelino's story is incredible .. what a mix ... then the commemoration of the flight - I'm glad they've used the building as a cinema ... and your stables - I can imagine you having a ball as a youngster riding around the wonderful Swedish countryside and loving those animals - as well as being fascinated by the blacksmith's shop

    Lovely post - cheers Hilary

  19. This is a beautiful celebration of segment of California history I admire and love, but so rarely see! The mural is wonderful, and it's delightful to hear more about your childhood and hearing your memories stirred! I must make a little pilgrimage to Tehachapi soon. I would very much enjoy seeing this in person. Thank you! Debra

  20. Hi Inger! Sweden calling ! Very nice post, really liked the murals and the history which goes with them. Best wishes, and next week we have Midsommar!

  21. Inger I love murals too. It was so fun to read about them and hear the history behind them. Was also fun to hear you loved horseback riding as a girl ... you did insinuate that right?


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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