The Fire

Posted July 8, 2001

The original high school (above) opened in 1930 as a result of funding acquired through a successful ballot measure.

It was the first week of February 1944, the three Tehachapi High School basketball teams (known then as the A's, B's, and C's) and their faithful fans hit the road for some out-of-town games. It was a tough night as all three teams lost ... it was even a tougher night when the teams arrived in Tehachapi to depart home from the school grounds. The school they represented was nearly all gone --- burned to the ground in a horrific fire.

As written in the 1944-45 Tomahawk Yearbook by Phillip Davis, "On the night of Friday, February 4th, a fire of an unknown source destroyed most of Tehachapi High School. The great majority of the townspeople witnessed the futile efforts of the firemen to subdue the flames that relentlessly devoured the gymnasium, stage, classrooms, cafeteria, library, and administrative offices. This appears to be a great loss --- as indeed it was. Yet buildings will be replaced eventually; while the old setting of memories that we and the classes before us have had here at Tehachapi High, the pictures of graduates dating back many years, student records, and the well earned athletic trophies are what we miss. For they are of value that can never be replaced by any sum of money."

The effort to rebuild the old high school was complicated by the pending war. It took several years, and several phases of construction, to restore many of the school facilities lost in the great fire of 1944. The old high school (above) became Jacobsen Junior High School when the new high school opened its doors on Anita Drive in 1965.