The Antelope Valley is located in the western side of the Mojave Desert and is approximately 3,000 square miles. On the northwest, the Valley is separated from the San Joaquin Valley by the Tehachapi Mountains. On the south and southwest, it is separated by the San Gabriel Mountains. The north and east boundaries of the Antelope Valley are distinguished by isolated buttes.
Hundreds of years ago, before any white settlements existed, the Kitanemuk Indians occupied this area. They were hunters and gatherers, depending almost entirely on the natural productivity of the land. They did not farm or practice animal husbandry, but they did trade with the Chumash of Santa Barbara, and ranged the foothills of the Antelope Valley. It is believed that many other tribes probably were in the Antelope Valley at one time or another, including the Yokuts, Chumash and Shoshone.
Today's Palmdale has its roots in two small, early communities: Harold (Alpine Station) and Palmenthal. Harold was a natural location for a community because it was at the crossroads of the two major routes on the Valley floor: the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and Fort Tejon Road (now Barrel Springs Road). As the story goes, Palmenthal came to be in 1886, when between fifty and sixty families of Swiss and German descent, predominantly from Nebraska and Illinois, moved westward to California. They had been told that when they saw palm trees, they would be very close to the Pacific Ocean. As they came to the Antelope Valley and saw the Joshua trees, they mistook them for palm trees. The families settled here and called their new town Palmenthal.
To find out more about the origins of Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, visit the Palmdale City Library.